Sometimes I notice that I hold my breath when I'm doing something challenging. Pre-stroke I caught myself holding my breath whenever I changed lanes on the freeway. Post-stroke I notice it most often while doing hand exercises.
My occupational therapist used to command me to "BREATHE!"
My retort: "I can pick up this ball or I can breathe, but you can't have both!"
I wasn't the only rehab patient with this problem. I heard other therapists bark the same instruction at other straining patients.
Here's my new tactic: When I become aware that I haven't exhaled, I stop whatever I'm struggling to do and take a few purposeful breaths. Then I make another attempt while focusing on my breathing. Whenever I do this, I notice my coordination and execution improve. I have become convinced that my recovery will coincide with my ability to breathe easily through my motions. Like golf or yoga, the perfect swing or the perfect pose feels effortless.