How to Take a Break and Find Your Way Back
Recently I took a trip in a taxi while I was traveling. The cab drive found our tourist destination easily, but my traveling companions and I had a hard time describing to the cab driver how to get back to where we were staying. We got a bit lost because we had forgotten to get that address, we forgot to plan the return part of the trip.
When we get overwhelmed by difficult emotions, its easy for us to dissociate to take a break from the difficult stuff. Dissociation is feeling disconnected from your body or what’s going on around you. It’s easy to do by accident, and then it can be hard to find your way back to feeling focused and present. Here’s how to plan your journey so that if you need a break you can be in charge, do what you need to do and then get back to where you want to be.
At the beginning of a time when you’ll be facing something difficult, like talking about a traumatic experience, hearing about someone else’s or watching, reading, or listening to something triggering, choose something to tune into if it gets too much.
It’s normal to need a break. Different kinds of breaks are appropriate for different settings, so it’s good to have a set of options to choose from.
Practice ahead gives you confidence and flexibility.
When emotions and memories feel like too much we need a break.
An unplanned break can look like
– Spacing out
– Wandering off
– Losing track of time
– Getting distracted / Trouble concentrating
– Checking your phone
A planned break could look like
– Tuning into your senses (taste, temperature, clothes), put on lotion or chap stick
– Dive into your breath, focusing on only that
– Leaving the room and cycling back in a couple of minutes (ex: bathroom break)
– Imagine being somewhere else, relaxing and safe
– Do a chosen time-limited distraction (maybe use a timer)
How to Return
– Tune into sense of the room
– Tune into voice of speaker
– Notice where you are right now – globe, local map, room, seat
– Notice yourself among us all – we are with you.
Practice Activity: Take time to plan your break
– Practice your break – gather fidgets, walk out of the room, draw, breathe, imagine? Do it or imagine yourself doing it.
– Practice Returning – tune into your body, notice the room, describe to yourself where you are in space and time. Notice who/Who you are with.