SOMETIMES A FEW MOMENTS of regulated breathing are enough to dispel an agitated state. Other times, we need to widen the gap between arousal and response—the emotion is too intense, the impulse to react goes too deep, the situation’s complexities cloud our vision.
At such times, we need more space in order to emerge from the rapids of reactivity and solidify our footing on the banks of grounded perspective. Catching our breath means taking a break. We need a time-out. We need to let settle the turmoil within. We can do this in multiple ways. Change your location. Go for a walk, spend time in nature, find a quiet place to sit, take a drive, or take refuge in a sacred site—a chapel, mosque, temple, or monastery. Engage your body. Do yoga, get a massage, take a bath, go for a run, ride a bike, throw clay, make music, dance, or draw.
Connect with a trusted person. Visit your therapist or spiritual director, talk with a friend, confide in a loved one, consult a mentor or spiritual teacher, seek counsel from a priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam.Perform a spiritual practice. Pray, meditate, journal, repeat a mantra, walk a labyrinth, go on a retreat.