Being a parent, friend, coworker or relative of someone with substance use issues or mental health challenges means needing sturdy bravery tactics at the ready. You’ll rely on skills you integrate into your daily life to connect to your body, heart, and mind, and this will impact the addictive system you’re a part of. Bring an array of tools into your world and you’ll tap into consistent faith and hope. Conscious breathing and connecting to your essence are two of these reliable pillars for conscious bravery.

Learning to breathe consciously when distressed, then through that stressful situation, is not just life-enhancing, it may save you. You’ll learn the art of self-regulation and know what to do when your sympathetic nervous system is activated during shock or devastation. Cultivating bravery means making friends with your nervous system — increasing resilience — learning how to calm yourself so that your parasympathetic nervous system can lead you into better decision-making from your prefrontal cortex, rather than reacting from the fight, flee, freeze, or fawn prompts in a trauma response.

You have the desire to change, but how do you remember to enact this change in your daily routine?

1) Commit to bring this practice into your life daily, when it’s convenient, and time-limit it in 1–3-minute intervals. Remember how much you’ll benefit and don’t let anything get in the way of doing this. Your life will change. Your commitment increases desire.

2) When you remember to breathe, feel thankful. In the simple act of remembering, you’ll receive a dopamine hit, raising the benefit of the breath and the inward connection. You’ll begin to prompt gratitude which will become a body memory associated with conscious breathing. Fun fact: dopamine spikes most just before we do something we’re either looking forward to or we know will benefit us, even if it’s difficult.

3) Set a reminder on your phone for specific, convenient times, then time your conscious breathing for at least 1 minute. Breathe consciously on the hour every day for 1 minute into your essence.

4) Remind yourself when breathing that this is building your resiliency, your strength, and

even better, walk around as you’re breathing, or move your body in any way, and the reminder becomes a mantra while moving which embeds the reminder and the enhanced motivation into your body memory.

5) Every time you walk through a doorway, breathe consciously, connecting with yourSelf.

6) Whenever you stop at a stop sign or light, take a few conscious breaths, heightening your awareness of yourSelf in your car, spatially aware of the environment and yourself.

7) Breathe with awareness just before any conversation. During conversations, practice really listening from your deepest essence, aware of what the other person is saying in full-on connection with them and you — you’ll feel a sacred exchange happening!

8) Put a sticky note to remind yourself on your fridge, your coffee maker, your bathroom mirror, and your doors.

9) Give yourself intermittent rewards. A cup of tea because you remembered, for example.

10) Do what you know works to uniquely help yourself to remember! Use your inner wisdom.

Smile and reward yourself with an “I did it!” after any of these prompts.

Breathe into your essence in this moment, for 30 seconds of practice.

Now you’re more yourSelf, the authentic you. Do you feel it? You’ve activated your body on your own behalf and connected with the wisest part of you. In DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) it’s called Wise Mind, and you know and experience truth. This moment is a better moment because you’re right here now, braver and less anxious, not falling prey to your sympathetic nervous system by: making someone bad (fighting), avoiding (fleeing), hiding or minimizing (freezing), or walking on eggshells to please another (fawning).

The good news? As you take steps into cultivating your bravery and your ability to become resilient, you’ll know better what to “do” when faced with tough decisions and harrowing circumstances. Imbed conscious breathing and connecting to your essence into your memory, mind, heart, and body so that it becomes instinctive, and you’ll lay the foundation to not only survive, but to bounce back up and eventually thrive with conscious bravery, no matter the circumstances.

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