Red Zone - I feel angry, agitated, anxious, excluded, restless, scared, shocked, uneasy

I may…

Go into attack mode like a hungry shark; Whizz around like a dart; Snap like an elastic band; Be on guard and hypervigilent, Black and white thinking (them vs us); Tornado of thoughts; Point the finger (shame and blame); Go into quick fix mode or fast reactive mode without thinking clearly; Crushed empathy- unable to help others; Use alcohol, medication/drugs, self harm, caffeine, food, sleep to try and calm my system and get out of red zone

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 exercises below, 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

Click to watch the Mindful Breathing exercise video

Basic needs check

Have you got your basic needs met? Food, water, toilet break, rest area, enough equipment, enough staff?

Get grounding

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

Click to watch the 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 hugs.

Click to watch the Butterfly hug video

Create calm

Reduce stimulation, your mind cannot take in any new information in red. Can you calm where you are or go to a calm place? Ideally physically take yourself away or can you go there in your imagination?

Click to watch the Safe place video

Add air

Open a window, go outside and consciously breathe, notice the air enter your body.

Muscle relaxation

Click to watch the Safe place video



Helping hand

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.

Soothing sounds

  • Change your tone of voice – can you talk to yourself in a kind, soothing voice?
  • Put on calming music

Nature’s soothers

look at nature – see exercise in green zone to build a bank of these to use when in red

Fractal finding

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…

Ask yourself:

  • Why did my mind and body go to red?
    • Is there an injustice that is needing talked about?
    • Is there action that needs 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:

  • Cluster of connections
  • Compassionate connections to self
  • Sleep satisfaction