When triggered, take a mindful pause

It is great to take a mindful pause when we feel calm. But it is even more helpful when we don’t, i.e. when we are triggered.

Being triggered means: we perceive that we are in danger. Our nervous system gets in fight-or-flight mode, and this drains blood and oxygen away from our mindful brain.

In other words: At the very moment that we need all our resources to deal with a difficult situation, we actually have reduced resources because fight-or-flight mode drains blood and oxygen away from our mindful brain.

It takes a conscious effort to go against our natural tendency to stay triggered. We need to pause, breathe & feel grounded, in order to get back our capacity to deal with the situation mindfully.

You may find it helpful to carry a reminder of this, to help you make a conscious effort to pause when you’re triggered:

triggered mindful pause

This text fits on a small card (like a credit card or a business card). It can be easily printed and carried with you as a practical reminder about mindfulness in everyday life. Download the printable PDF.

A reader, Fiona M, writes: The ‘Active Pause’ card is an excellent and immediate way to bring someone who is suffering an anxiety attack or is just generally anxious, back to normal relatively quickly. It allows them to observe their symptoms but realize that they are still centered and still standing. I have printed off two and have laminated both and made two cards for a wallet/purse (one for myself, one for my niece in College).

Here’s a simple way to get a (mindful) grip.