“Remember to breathe. It is after all, the secret of life.”
-Gregory Maquire, A Lion Among Men
I’m not saying everyone’s job is as difficult or as easy as mine, however I can say mine can be very stressful and anxious-ridden 90% of the time. Let’s face it, anxiety in the work place sucks. I work in the mortgage/finance business where you can not move at a snail’s pace and you also need to be on top of your game 24/7 when you are at work. And when one of your jobs is to be an assistant to an executive in the company, it can get crazier and more demanding at times, especially if the executive are one of those “brilliant but crazy” type of people. My up-brings and all of the mentors and bosses I’ve had helped me develop a thick skin, but that still don’t stop me from having an anxiety moment or having a moment of depression. Hey, we’re human after all!
At least once a month, my executive would make me drop anything I’m working on (his most famous quote for this is, “This is more important than if the President of the United States ask you to help him avoid World War 3), and work on something on his behalf claiming it’s the most important task. And to tell you the truth, it’s normally not that important. However when he is your boss, sometimes you have to say “okay”. He also gets into his moods where he is angry at the most simplest thing or blows things out of objective. No, he is not abusive verbally and no he doesn’t belittle anyone, but if you work in corporate, you would understand what I’m talking about. Some of the work I would do for him he would send it back and demand edits because “the font is wrong” or “the blue color is more navy than towards the red side of the color spectrum.” Yes, my boss can make me anxious and if I let him win, I could sit in the corner of my desk, curl up into a ball, and cry all day. However, as we know, that will not do anything to help my job that pays my bills or makes me a stronger person. So whenever my boss or anyone in general makes me anxious, I take a look at my computer screen where I have a post it with two simple words “Just Breathe”.
9 out of 10 when I have an anxiety attack, I forget about breathing in general. Your heart beats start racing which will make your brain and thought race at the same time. Inhaling the oxygen around me slowly and releasing the carbon dioxide slowly helps slow down my heart, my racing thoughts, and reminds me to slow down. It may take a couple of tries, but soon enough I’d reach to a point where I can ask myself and think logical thoughts. “Is my boss a bit crazy in OCD?” “Does my boss in general appreciate me?” “Am I really doing a good job?” “Is his criticism attacking me or is he pointing out his perfect job?” Usually the answer are always good like “Yes he appreciates me, I’ve been his longest assistant that the company has known about” “Yes my boss has major OCD but you’ve learned how to deal with those type of people growing up”. After my breathing exercise, normally my head clears up and I’m able to put in my usual attention to the work I present to him and always end up doing well for him.
Now, to be fair, yes, one of my bosses is crazy and he knows it. But we have a great working relationship together. He appreciate all the work I’ve done for him and knows I’m strong enough to let him know when he’s out of line. He has a great heart and cares about people in general, which I find rare for most executives.
However, the reason why I want to bring this up is that anxiety can hit anyone at any moment, and for any reason at all. Let’s face it, anxiety and depression sucks and we all wish there was this one cure that will get rid of it all together. However there isn’t, and 50% of the fight against anxiety and depression is that we need to rely on ourselves to help. And one of the best ways you can help yourself, with no medication and with no help from a doctor, is by breathing. 99% of the time when I feel anxious or get in one of those moods, I will start with my breathing exercise. And that little post it on my computer is just a small, nice, little reminder of how important it is to breathe. Once you’ve learned how to breathe, you can start conquering the world.