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  • Ricka Robb Kohnstamm

How might you prioritize breathing room and why should you try?

I'm noticing something curious in myself and in my clients...

Summer is here and instead of being relaxed, people have gotten busier and busier and many push breathing room to the side. Later gator, breathing room.

Is it post-Covid panic? Schedule every second of the warmth with activities we haven't been able to do for the past number of years - travel, bike rides, theatre, dinner in restaurants with friends and family, picnics, parties, building up, gardening, tearing apart... do the things now in case we can't in the fall, next winter, next spring.

Could be. I feel it gnawing at me, for sure.

Or it might be something like "life is going quickly, grab it while you are healthy/young/working/retired/the kids are young/mom is alive/you name it..." do all the things before we lose our health/job/kids to their kids/our favorite restaurant closes, the world blows up" and on and on like that.

Or it can look like "work is expecting all of this of me, I have to do all of this, even though a mortal human is not capable of what is being required... the ER is full, patients just keep coming, we don't have enough staff, I need to keep up..."

When we love life and our expectations are high, we stretch beyond capacity. That takes a toll on our health and our relationships, as well as our ability to enjoy the here and now.

As you think about what you prioritize, consider these three things...

Take a moment to reflect. Really reflect. What is your current capacity? Are you feeling stretchy and your capacity is 85%? Or are you feeling crispy and your capacity is 12% at best? And does this change by time of day? Are you crispy in the morning, but expansive at night, which is when you do the activities? Or expansive in the morning when you agree to do them and crispy and running on empty towards the end of the day, which is when the extra activities happen? Or are you verging on crispy 24/7?

What do you want your capacity to be on average and how can breathing room support that balance?

Take a hard look at your priorities right now... are you focused on work because you are building a purposeful career? Or building financial security for your family? Or supporting a medical practice that is important to you and your colleagues? Is your priority your young, growing children? Or is your priority traveling to the places on your bucket list that are calling to you? Perhaps your priority is your own health and that is where feel a calling to double down. Maybe your priority is to create room to learn different patterns - one that allows more space for choice.

Our priorities aren't always the "fun" thing on the list and sometimes they are very hard work, but they are important for a reason. How can breathing room support your willingness to lean towards what is most important for you, right now?

Use the word "yes" judiciously.

"Yes, I can take that additional patient, once I complete my notes on the prior two... give me 30 minutes."

"Yes, I am able to take the children to the playground so that you can have some breathing room - I will plan to take my breathing room this evening."

"Yes to theatre! I will cancel less important things I have this week so that I can make this a priority."

"Yes to that long trip back home... I will create room to rest and get stronger before we take that on."

How can breathing room increase your ability to use "yes" judiciously, rather than automatically or from a place of obligation?

As always, behaviors aligned with values support optimal health.


Hello, I'm Ricka.

Ricka Kohnstamm Executive & Physician Coach Profile Photo

I'm a Nationally Board Certified (NBC-HWC) Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coach. I specialize in working with physician leaders, corporate leaders, non-profit executives and their families to navigate complex work and personal issues so they can strengthen their relationships, heal, and feel hopeful about the future again. 



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