Dr. Rollo May, American existential psychologist taught, “Human freedom comes from the ability to pause so that you can breathe before you react and think before you respond.”

Why is pausing important?

Pausing is the key to learning how to control or modulate our emotions.

When stressed it is normal to have some sort of initial stress reaction. But, how long should the anger last and how angry should you get?

It turns out that our stress reactions are rooted in patterns of behavior that neuroscientists call neural pathways. These can get developed somewhere along the way in childhood from parents, teachers or peers. The problem comes when our parents or teachers were not equipped to teach or did not role model healthy behavior.

When we first react to a stressor and experience any emotion, we sometimes overreact. When that happens our brain is being controlled by the Amygdala, the fear center, the fight-flight-or-freeze area. When we pause before we react, we are allowing the Pre-frontal cortex, the executive functioning part of the brain to take control. This is where we can choose how to best react.

For example, you are in line for your favorite coffee drink and it seems like it’s taking forever to process each customer. You begin to feel anxious because you are busy or have to get to an appointment.

Your brain begins to generate all kinds of negative thoughts, such as:

            Why don’t they have more people serving?

            The service at this café is always so slow?

            This endless waiting is stressing me out.


If you were to S-T-O-P, meaning


Take a Breath



you would find that you could turn those negative thoughts into more positive ones. For example:

The service is really slow today. Someone must have called in sick. I know they’re doing the best they can.

The deep cleansing breath has a calming physiological reaction. Then the reality spinning of your rational thoughts helps to keep you in a positive state of mind. Sometimes I actually have to say to myself,

This is annoying, but I cannot control the baristas. All I can do is control my reactions. I can choose to be happy and put a smile on my face and ask the barista, ‘how’s your day going?’

Learning to catch yourself in the act of over-reacting or over-generalizing is the first key to the path of banishing burnout.

The next time you feel yourself getting angry in a stressful situation, try pausing by stopping, taking a breath, observing and then proceeding. You will be on your way to banishing your burnout.

To learn more about this or the other tools in the Banish Burnout Toolkit, visit https://www.JaniceLitvin.com/book.