Sklover’s Thought for the Work Week

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“We do the Birthday Cake Thing.”

– Young Girl, Perhaps 11 or 12

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I recently watched a television report about children who suffer from anxiety. What kind of anxiety? . . . all kinds, arising from so many different aspects of their young lives. I don’t remember suffering from anxiety as a child but, then again, that was “a lot of years” ago. When an adult asked the children if they ever feel anxious, “You know, very tight, or shaky or uncomfortable inside,” all of the children raised their hands, as if to say, “Yes.” When the adult asked them what they did when they felt that way, one young girl, perhaps 11 or 12, blurted out, “Oh, we do ‘The Birthday Cake Thing.’”

When asked what “The Birthday Cake Thing” was, the young girl responded, “Well, you breathe into your nose for a few seconds to smell the cake, and then you blow the air out of your mouth to blow out the candles. Everybody does that, don’t you?”

It turns out that these children had learned that repeated deep breathing serves to relax the body and mind, reduce anger, upset and inner stress and conflict. It reduces the sometimes-hard-to-contain overflow of emotion that can lead to truly unnecessary arguments, even fights, at home, at school, and – yes – at work, too.

I confess: I do “The Birthday Cake Thing” a lot these days, and I’m glad I do. It’s been so good for reducing my stress level, blood pressure, friendship frictions, and misunderstandings at work. I do it at my desk, sometimes while on the phone, and all too often when I get off the phone. No matter who you are, and what you do all day, I encourage you to practice it, too. They say that, if you do “The Birthday Cake Thing,” you’ll see more birthdays in your lifetime, too. Happy “Birthday Cake Thing” to you!

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