How I may act…
Go into attack mode like a hungry shark; whizz around like a dart; snap like an elastic band; black and white thinking – them verses us; tornado of thoughts; point the finger (shame and blame); Go into quick fix or fast reactive mode without thinking clearly; crushed empathy – unable to help others; use alcohol, medication or drugs, self harm, caffeine, food, sleep to try and calm my system.
I need… to put the brakes on
Remember your system knows its way back to green and you can give it a helping hand.
Work through the following exercises
There is no particular order you need to do these in. Just dip in and out when you need to give your brain and body a break.
Bring in the breath
Your breathing is most likely to be short, sharp and tight, you need to intentionally slow it down:
Take ten breaths breathing in for a count of four, pause, then breathe out for a count of four.Mindful breathing exercise video
Basic needs check
Have you got your basic needs met? Food, water, toilet break, rest area, enough equipment, enough staff?
Are your thoughts whizzing? Your mind may be bringing up painful past memories or forward thinking to worst case scenarios in the future, wherever you are you can use your five senses to bring yourself back to the present.Grounding exercise video
Move it, move it
Connect with the energy in a safe way – find ways to discharge your energy; can you run, walk, skip, hop, dance, sing, hug? If you can’t do this physically, imagine this movement in your mind or create a rhythmic movement you can do like the butterfly hug.Butterfly hug exercise video
Reduce stimulation, your mind cannot take in any new information in red. Can you be calm where you are or go to a calm place? Ideally physically take yourself away or can you go there in your imagination?My safe place video
Open a window, go outside and consciously breathe, notice the air enter your body.
Muscle relaxationExercises to relax your muscles
Find a connection with someone who will help you feel calmer, when you are in the green zone you may like to try the Cluster of connections activity to help you to do this when you reach red.
- Change your tone of voice – can you talk to yourself in a kind, soothing voice?
- Put on calming music
Look at nature – see exercise in green zone to build a bank of these to use when in red.
A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Ten seconds of looking at complex repeatable patterns can reduce stress. Find a pattern you notice that calms you and display these so they are accessible to you, such as photos on your phone, a fractal plant in the office, a picture on a screensaver.
Bring your attention to the sensation of the drink going down your throat and into your stomach.
Later I can…
Take some time to reflect on the why…
Why did my mind and body go to red?
- Is there an injustice that needs to be talked about?
- Is there an action that needs to be taken?
- Do I need to change my routine to make sure my basic needs are met?
- What can I do to prevent this situation from happening again?
What does my behaviour tend to look like in red?
Fight or flight
In red your body and mind goes to fight or flight mode to survive.
Here are some common themes we see when we are in red:
- Feeling overloaded by information, unable to think clearly
- A want to run away
- Tension in the body
- A narrow focus of attention
- Lashing out, criticising, complaining, blaming and shaming
Do one of these recommended green exercises to build up your options to use when you are in the red zone: