BREATHING INTO THE PRESENT MOMENT: The ABC’S of Stress Shifting
By Lindsay Leimbach
When you are aware that you have been triggered by a stressor, take a breath. Breathe in for the count of 3, hold for the count of 3, and then breathe out for the count of 3. Do this 3 times!
Taking a breath to calm down should not be a surprising suggestion.
We instinctively tell others that are stressed or upset, “catch your breath… breathe, breathe, and breathe."
Breathing at a slower rate activates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system calms both the body and brain. The brain can shift out of a fight/flight response which is the sympathetic nervous system response. The controlled slower breathing allows improved impulse control and executive thinking.
Breathing slowly and more deliberately will decrease your blood pressure and clear your tunnel vision. When you are calmer, you can be more aware of what you’re thinking and feeling. You will be less likely to be lost in the worries of yesterday or the anxiety of tomorrow.
With a calmer state of mind, you can see with discernment and mindfulness what is truly happening in the present moment. Only in the present moment can you choose to have a different positive response to a stress trigger.
So remember, be aware you have been triggered, and then take a breath. Breath in for the count of 3, holding for the count of 3, then breathing out for the count of 3, and do this for 3 times. You are choosing to bring yourself into the present moment so you can make positive skillful choice.
The ABC’s of Stress Shifting: A (Awareness) + B (Breathe & focus) = C (Choice to make a skillful action in the Present Moment).