Breathing is so important, but it’s also one of those things that we tend to take for granted. We need it to live, but no one really thinks about how much we actually do it. If you have asthma or some other chronic problem where breathing is difficult for you, like cystic fibrosis, then you are definitely more aware of how precious every breath is than everybody else who doesn’t have to deal with those types of issues. If your body isn’t getting the air that it needs then it becomes hard for you to focus on anything else other than the lack of breath that you’re not getting. In those moments, you realize just how vital your breath is. Just try to think about how you feel when you run more than you’re used to running or when you have to walk up a particularly long flight of stairs. In these instances you are aware of each and every breath that you take. In these snapshots of time, you realize that you are nothing without your breath. Your very essence is tied to this thing. Without it you die. But even though it’s used for the practical purpose of keeping you alive, it can also serve other purposes as well.

I am someone who tends to get worked up pretty easily. Stress is such a constant part of my life that it seems to be just as persistent as breathing is. And that’s definitely something that I need to change. Stress is damaging, but luckily there are some things that you can do to alleviate it, even if it’s only for a moment. One of those things happens to be breathing.

There’s this song that I’ve been listening to fairly often lately, and it’s called “Breathe.” It’s from the musical In The Heights. I tend to go through these phases where I listen to one soundtrack or one set of songs (usually from musicals) for months on end, and right now the score from In The Heights happens to be the what I’ve been focusing on over the past two or three months. I saw a performance of it at college in 2017, and there was a bunch of technical issues during the performance so I didn’t really enjoy it. I forgot about it until one day “Breathe” popped up on my Pandora station. I couldn’t appreciate the song when I watched the play because I could barely hear it, but this time, as I stood at my adjustable desk at my temp job, I listened to the words and I connected with them on a fundamental level. That’s why I made the decision to start listening to the rest of the soundtrack. The music is great and I highly recommend that you listen to it, but if musicals aren’t your thing and you don’t want to go through the whole thing then I recommend that you at least take a listen to “Breathe.” Like I said, I’ve been listening to it for quite some time which is why it’s always in my head, but unlike other songs that get stuck up there, this one is actually beneficial. Yes, it pops into my mind during random moments during my day, but it also comes to mind whenever I’m feelings stressed out. And whenever Mandy Gonzalez’s voice flits across my mind I listen to her advice.

This song takes place in a part of the musical where one of the main characters, Nina, is coming home from her first year in college. She’s stressing out because she doesn’t know how she’s going to tell her parents and everyone in her neighborhood that she has to drop out because of her poor grades. She thinks that they’ll all be disappointed in her. Growing up, she was always the smart one. She worked hard in school and got some scholarships so that she could help pay for her college tuition at Stanford, but after one year there she has to call it quits. Throughout the song, she tells herself to “just breathe.” And even though this seems like such a simple thing to do, it’s really important. Taking a moment to just stop and breathe can help you to re-center and re-focus on what’s important and on what you have to do next positive thinker. Nina realized this, and it’s something that you should do too. The next time you find yourself overwhelmed, just pause for a beat and breathe. It can end up being exactly what you need in that moment to make you feel better about where you’re at.