One thing that I have learned as a psychology professor and former psychologist is that “simple things on repeat” have the greatest impact on our health and happiness. This is why I want to share a sustainable model of emotional and mental health habits called CPR: Catch Pause Repair.
Catch yourself before a stress response escalates by becoming more aware of what provokes you.
What Triggers You?
Make a List
Make a list of situations that you find yourself overreacting to over the course of the day. It could be that you are always in the same argument with a sibling or a family member. It could be a heightened response to the slightest criticism from your boss. It could be about money.
Pick One Thing
From that list, narrow it down to one item that triggers you the most. Something that you almost have an out-of-body reaction to. For example, you come home after work after a long day of meetings and find your home in complete disarray. You are all set to make dinner and discover that the food you had planned to cook is no longer in the fridge. Nothing is as you had planned it, and you find yourself angry and upset over and above the issue at hand.
This is a sign to catch yourself and move quickly into pause mode. It’s not the situation alone that is distressing you, it’s everything that led up to that moment.
Pause and take a time-out when you feel the physical sensations of stress begin to escalate.
Take a Beat
After catching yourself, you move into a pause mode by removing yourself from the situation. It could be for 60 seconds or 60 minutes. The key is that you become conscious and aware of the physical sensations behind your overreaction to the situation.
The idea is that when you overreact to something, then you are reacting not to what is in front of you, but instead, you are reacting to something that triggers you from the past. Whether it be earlier in the day, being stuck in traffic on the way home, or years ago when your parents argued repeatedly over dinner.
The Power of Now
The pause allows you to tune into your body, take a deep breath, and come back into the present moment.
Repair the root source of the heightened stress response which is often physiological in nature.
The repair portion of the CPR model is an ongoing commitment to your mental and physical health and well-being, including tending to daily unmet needs. This could include better sleep, more time outdoors, increased physical exercise, and less time on technology.
“The greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.”
CATCH PAUSE REPAIR
Dr. Andrea Dinardo is a psychology professor and keynote speaker with expertise in stress, resilience, and mental health. Visit DrAndreaDinardo.com to learn about her speaking, training, and professional development services.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.