Living Hand to Mouth
5 Step Reset
Skillset: Hand to Mouth
I developed this quick 5 Step Reset by combining simple actions you can remember when under pressure that may elicit the desired physiological responses to help calm the nervous system. This way you can change yourself by down regulating the sympathetic nervous system & up regulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Take as little or much time as needed to…
Step 1. Touch your lip lightly with your index finger.
Step 2. Exhale. Consider a light Shhh sound.
Step 3. Keep lips slightly separated.
Step 4. Let the tip of the tongue rest gently between the front of your teeth; between the top & bottom teeth.
Step 5. Release fingers & hand back down to your side & lengthen your fingers.
Mindset: Joint Position May Reflect Stress Level & Can be Noticed & Changed.
Work or life stressors may be related to decreased parasympathetic activity (Clays, et al.). Explore following the 5 Step Reset developed by Atlas Posture® & notice how your use affects your stress level & quality of life.
This skillset focuses on the hand and mouth since such a large area of the brain is devoted to your hands & mouth, especially the lips, fingers, & the thumb.
When stress triggers tense joint positions in your jaw or hands it gears your body up to fight, flight or freeze mode. Using an informed mindset to perform a skillset that promotes a more open joint position can send a message of ease to yourself.
Perform the steps as you are comfortably able & abandon the steps if any discomfort occurs. This information is not intended as medical advice but for your own sense of wellbeing.
If you would like to know more about the thinking behind the steps, read on.
Step 1. Parasympathetic fibers on the lips are stimulated by touch & may up regulate the parasympathetic system or calming part of the nervous system.
Step 2. Consider an exhalation in response to stress if you notice yourself holding your breath. Or try a soft Shhh sound as you exhale because your finger is already on your lip.
Imagine you are working in the operating room and have to Shoosh the surgeon who is taking a cell phone call (Avidan, et al. FYI — Research conclusion recommended operating surgeons turn off their cell phones before surgery).
Holding your breath may lead to excess CO2 which can agitate the nervous system. Your incoming breath will occur naturally after exhalation. Typically, the less you artificially interfere with your breathing the better.
Step 3 & 4. It’s common during stress for the joint position of the jaw to keep the lips pressed together tightly with the tongue stuck to the roof of the mouth. Leaving a bit of space between the lips helps your system reset away from excess tension.
Step 5. It’s common during stress for the hand to keep the fingers curled or pulled into a tight grip. Allowing the fingers and thumb to reach their full resting length helps reset system away from unwanted & unnecessary tension. You cannot sense what your muscles do, but you can notice and change your joint position because of signals sent to your conscious brain by the joint proprioceptive receptors.
Julie A. Pauls 4 ATLAS Posture®
Avidan, A., Yacobi G., Weissman C., et al. Cell phone calls in the operating theater and staff distractions: an observational study. J Patient Saf. (2017) Jan 9.
Clays, E., DeBacquer, D., Crasset, V., et al. The perception of work stressors is related to reduced parasympathetic activity. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (2011) 84:185.
Mitchell, Laura. Simple Relaxation. The Mitchell Method for Easing Tension. London: John Murry Ltd, 1987.
Wolf, Jessica. Art of Breathing. 2013.