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Manage Stress Through Mindfulness

Lesson 8 of 9

Respond vs Reacting to Stress

Rich Fernandez, Ph.D.

Manage Stress Through Mindfulness

Rich Fernandez, Ph.D.

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Lesson Info

8. Respond vs Reacting to Stress

Lesson Info

Respond vs Reacting to Stress

Responding versus reacting to stress, right, all of this in many ways, you know, quieting the mind to directing our focus, opening up our awareness and through mindful awareness and monitoring d centering the things that causes frustration and stress. All of this leads to responding the capacity to respond versus react to stress. What does that mean and there's this wonderful quote that you've heard before? From victor victor frankel, who talks about the fact that that between any stimulus between something that happens in the environment and our response to it there is a space, and within that space, we can make a choice, and in that response lies our growth and our happiness and what's key is that this is a skill that we like to call response flexibility there's a wonderful researcher named linda grahame, who talks about this is the ability to pause, step back, reflect shift perspectives very much like you did hear jennifer on dh, then create an option and choose wisely. Very simply ...

put, I would say it's these three things being able to pause, being able to reflect being able to respond. And I have off a funnel story which have full disclosure from my wife to share because I've shared this probably now with thousands and thousands of people, but I talk about this as how response flexibility saved my sunday so we were having a really nice breakfast one sunday morning and we're looking at the window and she kind of looked up at the molding for the curtains and sort of said oh the curtains and she literally said it exactly that way oh the curtains right three words said pretty much with that same tone ok because what was supposed to happen that week was that I was supposed mr mindfulness here was supposed to go call about this special molding that we needed and have it installed but I forgot to do it I was really busy but everything anything happened when she said these three words eds o the curtains I noticed something very interesting happening in my body which was there was a sensation that was occurring and it was ascending it was rising in my body and by the time it got to about my throat I realized that I could name it and it was heat and the heat. Moreover, if I really paid attention to what that was I realized I was angry and I thought, well, I was completely stunned by that and curious about us getting angry. What did she say? I said hold on, baby, I'm going to go get the o j so I got up out of the table I paused I took a breath and pivoted my attention to my breath through this focused awareness practice literally for probably two or three seconds I paused, I reflected and thought what and my experiencing anger for what did she say? She said, oh the curtains she said it in a fairly neutral tone she didn't say oh the current stupid right? She said, oh the curtains yet I'm feeling kind of this strange anger and grab the o j took another mindful breath thought is this useful? Is this even warranted? And I thought she didn't say anything at all could like caused me to feel this way I just I guess I've just triggered so I sat down took one last breath and said I'm so sorry babe so busy this week I forgot, you know, not totally cool, no problem and I kind of sat there stunned I went and she said what happened? And I said never mind I think responsible ex ability just saved our sunday because if I had gotten into it, if I had allowed myself to be angry for no reason, I will say for no reason there was no reason to be angry that would have been like a three or four maybe a six hour kind of thing right on sunday and so it's this skill of responding versus reacting cause I was about to react in this situation because who knows why? Maybe I thought I was being criticized maybe I thought right, we have again I think it had to do with some narrative I had in my head, but I was able to interrupt that narrative by pausing and reflecting and then responding in this different way so that's exactly what the skill is so when you feel triggered when you feel like you're experiencing a difficult situation pause, breathe right use that focused attention or that breathing exercise drawing the spotlight of your attention in your breath for a moment because it will de center the trigger it will de center the stressor scan your body like what we just did notice what's happening I noticed heat I noticed and I could label it even with neutral observation I was able to go oh I'm experiencing this heat I was able to reflect on it and label it wow what is this emotion? This emotion is anger and the final part is respond problem solve okay is this anger warranted? Because I'm not suggesting that anger isn't ever warranted sometimes there is righteous indignation all right? But in this case it was just some sort of narrative in my head. So I said to myself, you know this is not going to be useful it's not even warranted I don't even know I am angry I'll think about that later but right now she just wants an answer how come how come occurrence than get fixed right. And so, by problem solving and responding versus reacting is able to change the situation. I believe, right?

Class Description

Your job doesn’t have to overwhelm you! Learn how to skillfully navigate daily challenges and invite more peace into your daily life in Manage Stress Through Mindfulness with Wisdom Labs.

In this class, you’ll learn science-based techniques designed to help busy professionals manage stress amidst the chaos of work. 

You’ll learn: 

  • Breathing and relaxation techniques 
  • Mindful communication practices 
  • How to have difficult conversations 
  • Strategies for labeling and reframing stress 
 All professionals face deadlines, competing priorities, and challenging personalities at work. Manage Stress Through Mindfulness will help you develop the skills and resiliency to manage them.



Rich is a fantastic instructor. Organized, realistic, and relatable. I love it that he draws on scientific research, including that done by John Gottman (of the Gottman Institute). I tend to avoid attending lectures on mindfulnes and meditation because often it is presented in such a "new age" type of way - it isn't something I can relate to very well or find truly helpful. But Rich does a great job in this class in keeping it real and giving truly helpful and information and advice. Excellent course!

Swimming Ink

Rich shares powerful tools that I can see myself seamlessly applying to empower me through a variety of stressful situations. Thank you Rich!


I appreciated the way that Rich made Mindfulness approachable. I knew what Mindfulness was, but I needed ways of applying it into my life. Thanks for helping me bridge that gap Rich!