Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Just breathe…easier said than done

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 7:40 pm on Friday, September 10, 2010

Relax. Just breathe.

Just breathe? Do you know how comforting those words are not? With my cerebral palsy, when my body hears those words,the opposite happens: the act of putting focus and effort into breathing causes muscles to tighten – the result least desired in that moment.

And yet, do you know how many times I’ve been told to “just breathe”? I might as well be told to “just walk it off”. Both are as equally likely.

Reading September’s issue of O Magazine the other night, I finally found an alternative that might actually work:

“If you are too upset to focus on your breath [it’s not that I’m too upset, but anyway…], try describing your surroundings in detail: Notice the shades, lines, colours and shadows in a painting, or the view out of the window — anything to pull your attention to external things.”

Yes! Shifting my focus from internally to externally might be enough to trick this body into doing what I need it to do in that moment.

Now…to remember, for me, “just breathe” means “stare out the window”…

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by Deb

September 11, 2010 @ 3:58 am

Glenda –
I keep forgetting that you have cerebral palsy. I think I’m not alone. Your message is so powerful every day, sometimes we don’t see “you”. But I am listening.

So what if you thought about barefooting or ziplining or shooting a gun? Concentrate on how hard you would be laughing – probably at all of us trying it too!

Comment by John Haydon

September 11, 2010 @ 4:15 am


This is really enlightening! When I want to relax, I focus inwardly, but you do the opposite. Is that a common approach or experience for people who have CP?


Comment by Glenda

September 11, 2010 @ 5:52 pm


Most days I forget I have cp too! I’m all for trying many things once…rifle shooting might be pushing it…but, with friends, anything is possible.

Thanks for listening!

Comment by Glenda

September 11, 2010 @ 5:55 pm


I don’t know if it’s a common approach. When you meet one person with cp, you’ve met ONE person with cp. What works for one might not work for another. Does that make sense?

Comment by Irma Goode

October 2, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

Thank you so much! I live in my own apartment and have a staff of 7 ladies. I also have dystonia, soooo involuntary muscle contractions are a daily occurence. If I had a dime for every time some well meaning person said “RELAX” I’d be rich! While I often feel like I have no control…actually I do have a little. I close my eyes and visualize a sandy beach. Closing my eyes removes me from the immediate need (like getting dressed)and helps with my breathing. Teaching staff to control their frustration is not easy. It appears to others that I am simply “tense” – but as you know, this is reflexive.
I just found you on the internet! What a wonderful surprize.

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