If you are replying to hundreds of messages a day, especially as part of a work requirement, it may not be possible to pause and breathe for several minutes before each one. But it might be possible to take two slow deep breaths and repeat this prayer to yourself:

Breathe in: "May my words"
Breathe out: "be kind and true,"
Breathe in: "connecting"
Breathe out: "and encouraging."

Kindness is a very underrated quality in this world. Yet I can think of many moments in my own life when I was deeply touched and uplifted in a difficult time simply because of the kindness of another. It might be a kind message that arrives to my inbox, letting me know how much my work means to them. Or it might be the cashier in the grocery store who smiles at me, doesn’t seem rushed at all, and asks how my day is going in a sincere way.

I can pause and, in this breath prayer, ask myself if my message is kind, true, connecting, and encouraging. Does my message dismiss the other person’s concern in any way? Is it passive-aggressive? Is it curt and cold in tone?

Loving communication helps to make the world a gentler place. Pausing during our emails helps them to become less of a task and a chore and more of a way to be present to others.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the more we pause and breathe when feeling overburdened, the more inner space we create and the more centered we become. Rather than rushing through our tasks, presence helps us to feel more expansive in our days and brings gentleness to our connections with others.

Christine Valters Paintner in Breath Prayer: An Ancient Practice for the Everyday Sacred