Stop Breathe Reflect and Choose

The first step to change is awareness so learning to identify the types of thoughts you are having is an important step in managing your stress.

One of the suggestions I have is to write down your thoughts. Sometimes our thoughts spiral out of control because we are not really examining them, but moreso reacting to them. Write down each of the fears you have, and then ask yourself, what is the real possibility of something like that happening? See if there are other issues going on within you that are causing you to worry so much. This could be a real opportunity for you to examine your thoughts and understand them. The simple act of writing about them can help abate some of the emotions.

You may notice that certain image keeps popping into your mind. Think about the image and write about it, write about the emotions that come up for you around the image. See if those emotions are familiar to you. Ask yourself if the emotions you are feeling are similar to other emotions you’ve had. Is this part of a larger pattern? In some cases, speaking to a trained professional or clinical hypnotherapist can be helpful.

A behavioral approach that may be helpful to you is called “stop, breathe, reflect, choose.” In this case, the moment you find yourself getting very upset thinking about your son, tell yourself “Stop”, then take a deep breath in. The deep breath in triggers the body’s relaxation response. Then Reflect, bring in your mind, and ask yourself what is the positive thought you can have out of all the possibilities, and finally Choose the thought that creates the least amount of stress.

Remember, you are creating your own stress through the thoughts and imagery you are projecting. The latest brain research shows that the same brain centers light up whether you are imagining something or if it is really happening. When you visualize your son in a negative situation, it is as if it is really happening and your body will get stressed in that moment, thinking it is happening right now.

With that in mind, it is important to train your mind to focus on positive images so that you can help your body stay calm, centered and relaxed.

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