What is a Brain-Break?

Learning to extend our level of patience takes practice. Anxiety, mood disorders and depression can make this seem like an impossible task. No worries, depression can lie to us a lot. Part of my journey to healing from depression has been learning how to tell myself which things are true and which things are lies. Patience is something that is possible to gain. We can put in effort and lots of trying to achieve this. And no, this doesn’t mean we have to endure things that cause stress, annoyance or even trama. It’s actually the opposite.

First, I find my triggers, the things that irritate me or make me lose it. Sometimes these are extremely obvious. Other times it may take some tracking of what makes me upset and when I get upset. There are times these outbursts aren’t related, and because of this I have had to do some real thinking. Asking myself why somethings bother me more than others gives me a chance to self evaluate what causes me to want to yell, feel overwhelmed, hopeless, or out of control. When that why is answered, I can usually start working on pinpointing the triggers. For example, I have a very difficult time with my messy house. I like it to look perfect. I can’t always make it that way because of four specific reasons (children). But it’s not just huge messes, or when the house is in need of a deep cleaning. All of which is understandable. But I get high anxiety when there are small messes. Or when anyone comes over. These have been a source of extreme panic attacks. Asking myself why has helped me really understand that I have post trauma from growing up in a hording household. Figuring out the triggers are the first step in knowing how to handle the affects.

Once I have figured out a trigger or two. (I have more than that, but starting small is good.) I can then know when I need to take brain-breaks. A brain-break is an easy trick word to help my family and myself know when mom’s having a hard time copying. The thing with depression is that one trigger can cause a chain reaction. Learning to catch yourself before the fuse is lit helps that chain reaction to dissipate or not even start in the first place. Our brains need healing, they need rest, and a time-out. A brain-break gives me time to step back before things get too hard. Or even if I have started the chain reaction, it gives me time to back off, say I’m sorry I need to take a brain-break, and then come back calmer and able to communicate in a positive, healthy way.

Brain-Breaks can consist of anything that helps you to recuperate, to lessen stress levels, or gives you alone time. Here are a few examples I use regularly:

  • Step Away–leaving the room or situation until everyone has cooled down or until you feel calm. This can be your room, bathroom, or even a quick drive in the car.
  • Deep Breathing–this is not just a few breaths in and out. This requires time to focus and fill your stomach and whole body with air, as deep as you can. Then slowly releasing. Look into Erica Ziel at https://www.ericaziel.com. She has some amazing podcasts with deep breathing exercises.
  • Positive Affirmations–have your list of positive saying. If you haven’t created one, this is a good reminder to set some time aside to write a few up. These are good to read when you need to center yourself. Adding positive words and thoughts into our self-talk can be a huge help.
  • Asking Reflective Questions–Asking ourselves why helps us stop battling that subconcious brain of ours. Reasoning and reflection can help us see where we can improve.
  • Grounding–plant feet solid on the ground. Then identify one thing you can smell and hear.
  • Gratitude–name five things you’re grateful for.
  • Naps/Relax–sometimes some sleep or rest is what needs to happen for us to feel refreshed and renewed.

Brain-breaks may need to be discussed with your family so a plan of action can take place. If there is a partner who can help facilitate time for you, this can make things a lot easier. If you are solo, some of these brain-breaks can be done with your kids. All of you do it together, or decide you all need to stop whatever is causing extreme stress and take that brain-break. Defining ahead of time what your goal is, why it is important to have time to calm down, and knowing when it is most effective to use, can really help minimize the toxic aftermath of falling apart.

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