In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, VETgirl’s Chief Happiness Officer, Jeannine Moga, MA, MSW, LCSW, clinical veterinary social worker, tells how to just breathe.

February 2021

Just. Breathe.

I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who was hoping that 2020 was going to be tossed out on its hiney, making space for something better… perhaps an end to this pandemic, some semblance of normalcy, and a little bit of restoration and peace. One week into 2021, though, and it looks like we are heading into another unbelievable year. We are bone-tired and weary. What is there to do?


There are significant delays to the COVID vaccine rollout, and loads of lost doses, to boot.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

A client is demanding paperwork (that *probably* should have been requested last month) with an unrealistic deadline.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

A staff meeting unravels within the first 5 minutes, conflict oozing from every corner of the room.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

The dog vomits bile on the new rug as I’m on my way out the door, already a few minutes late to work.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

I’m in between appointments (and running behind) when the receptionist tells me someone who left a non-urgent message 30 minutes ago is back on the line – and this time, it’s an emergency.

Woman breathing underwater

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

A co-worker has been exposed to the virus and has to quarantine. Now the whole schedule has to be reconfigured, and the practice may have to close for a few days. Here we go again.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

The check engine light flips on as I’m sitting in traffic.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

A staff member quits… the second one this month.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

The local stores are out of toilet paper. AYFKM?

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

Listening to news coverage leaves me feeling overwhelmed and helpless. I swallow my tears and feel the rage building.

Deep breath in, deep breath out. Repeat. Walk. BREATHE.

Meditation image

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

When the body is tired, emotions are big (or numbed), and thoughts are scrambled and unfocused, our best bet is to press the pause button using our breath. Breathing is our best multi-tool because it is portable, versatile, and re-connects our triune brain. Deep breathing sends a grounding signal through the body, enabling us to slow the heart rate and quell the urge to fight, flee, freeze, or fidget. Deep breathing enables us to feel our feelings without being undone by them. Deep breathing helps us to think clearly and strategically while fending off the impulse to catastrophize (especially when catastrophe is everywhere we look). And deep breathing gives us control over the only thing we can ultimately do anything about: ourselves.

So, when it all gets to be too much (and lately, that is true more days than not), breathe deeply, intentionally and often.

  1. I really needed this today! Today was a rough day to say the least. I have been working a lot on my mental and physical health in 2021! This will be in the back of my head starting tomorrow!

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