Stop, Drop, and Breathe

June 11, 2016


When firefighters visit classrooms to teach kids about fire safety, they almost certainly introduce the emergency procedure known as Stop, Drop, and Roll. Children are taught that while they should always avoid fires, if their clothes do catch fire, they need to act immediately. Three steps are to be taken:

Stop. Stop immediately. No running and no flailing about, which only oxygenates the fire and makes it grow.

Drop. Drop to the ground. Don’t move to a different location or postpone action. Drop right now.

Roll. Roll around to extinguish the flames. Once the flames are out, the situation can be assessed.

In today’s fast-paced and always-connected world, most of us are at times overwhelmed. We’re tethered, albeit with our own permission, to our devices and are rarely, if ever, completely out of reach. We have a to-do list for work and another for after work. True down time barely exists for many of us and when we do get a little piece of free time, we’re as likely to spend it staring at a screen as we are using it to foster the most important relationships in our lives. It’s no wonder we’re frequently frazzled.

When over-stimulation becomes the norm, there’s a price to pay. We open the door to physical ailments. We sacrifice true connectedness in the name of busy-ness. And left unchecked, we unravel.

The lesson our kids get from visiting firefighters is one we can apply to the fires that sizzle and singe in our daily lives. When we’re out of sorts and overwhelmed, we can benefit from the following three steps:

Stop. Whatever we’re doing can wait for a moment. No running or flailing, as the frenzy of constant busy-ness feeds the flames.

Drop. Let go of everything except what’s right at hand. We’re rarely overwhelmed when we are actually in the moment, focused on one task or activity. It’s when we scatter ourselves and attempt to live both now and in the past and/or the future that it becomes too much. So focus on this very moment and drop the rest.

Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Once the flames are out, the situation can be assessed.

When we listen to and honor our inner wisdom, we instinctively know what changes need to be made. Many of the entries on those to-do lists could be deleted with little to no consequence. Much of what we allow to occupy our thoughts doesn’t serve us. When we whittle away all that doesn’t enrich our lives, we find that in simplicity lies happiness. And happiness is, after all, the goal.


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  1. Reply


    Good advice, and reminder. I like to be in the Now yet often find myself way over multi-tasking.

    1. Reply


      It’s so good to see you!

      It seems to me that starting sometime in the 80’s, doing less than three things at once was considered slacking. It seems to have gone full circle though, and more of us are (finally!) realizing that there really is such a thing as too much.

  2. Reply


    Awesome write, but I would expect nothing but. Thank you for this. Yes…STOP, DROP AND BREATHE. We all should. ❤

    1. Reply


      *waving* Hi, Tai! Thanks so much for popping in!

      I’ll have to come back to remind myself do take those three steps. I’m working on it. 😉

  3. Reply


    You sound calm and at peace, Beth, your personal stop, drop and breathe seems to have been effective. Good for you, good for your friends/readers

    1. Reply


      Life is good, Ralph! I tend to go too easily into hyper-overdrive, but I’m working on it.

      Thanks for visiting!

  4. Reply


    Spending this past 6 months working with my precious 3-5yr olds did indeed remind me to view the world with awe and wonder. Little things that would normally go unnoticed because of the everyday hustle and bustle of life. Stepping back to breathe and watch life sparkle is so important. And beautiful if we allow it to be.
    Thank you for writing and spilling out the contents of your heart and wisdom of life’s lessons.

    1. Reply


      Kids do know. They automatically stay with whatever they’re doing, giving it all their attention. If they’re upset, they express it and then move on. They don’t let yesterday (or two minutes ago) impact right now. Wise little people!

      Thanks so much for visiting and leaving your words and wisdom, Deb!

  5. Reply

    Amy McMunn

    I need to learn to do this! Will hold your words for future use.

    Love and miss you, Bethy!

    1. Reply


      Amy!!! I’ve missed you, too! I’ll be by to visit you at your new digs–can’t wait to read. When it comes to living from a place of inner wisdom, you rock it. Love you loads!

      And yeah, I’m in need of a reminder to stop, drop, and breathe, too. I’ve definitely trimmed my ‘should’ list but I can still go from zero to sixty pretty quickly. Working on it…

  6. Reply

    Michelle Devin

    Looking forward to a blog from you! This is the perfect start!

    Love & stuff,

    1. Reply


      Howdy, Michy! Thanks for coming by! I’m excited to be starting anew. It’s time.

      Love & stuff right back to you. 🙂

  7. Reply


    Excellent points, thank you!

    1. Reply


      Hey, Margi! So glad to see you. And thanks again for offering your wisdom and advice every time I bugged you for it. Every. Single. Time. 😀

      1. Reply


        Pff … you’re welcome. Every. Single. Time. 🙂

  8. Reply

    Malcolm Campbell

    I need to remember this because I tend to have a damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead attitude when I’m trying to get certain things done.

    Nice to see your words again.


    1. Reply

      Malcolm Campbell

      It’s never good to let a typo go by when it’s in one’s name.

      1. Reply


        Oh, and double l thing reminds me of Ogden Nash’s The Lama:

        The one-l lama,
        He’s a priest.
        The two-l llama,
        He’s a beast.
        And I will bet
        A silk pajama
        There isn’t any
        Three-l lllama.

    2. Reply


      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Malcolm!

      I do, too, and it’s never really served me. I’m working on becoming the world’s greatest slacker. (Damn! Working on becoming the world’s greatest at it sort of defeats it, doesn’t it?)

  9. Reply


    Health issues caused me to assess how I was focusing my energy and time. If I know I only have so many productive, feel-good hours in the day, I want to use them in a way that enriches my life and best cares for those I love (which is the most important thing for me). Great advice, Beth!

    1. Reply


      You’ve always been wise, Kim, but even for the wisest among us, life’s challenges tend to help us put things quickly in the right order.

      I’m so glad you stopped by!

  10. Reply


    3 very wise things to learn. I’ll have to remember these points & follow them in life.

    It’s so good to see your writing again Beth!

    1. Reply


      Donna, one of my favorite people! You’ve always been an on-track person with your priorities in line. Pass that along to Little Man and he’ll grow up knowing how to stay present in his life and enjoy every delicious bit of it.

  11. Reply


    So good to see you! Beautiful website and post! I’ve subscribed.

    1. Reply


      Yay! Thank you, Jean! This is feeling like a homecoming party. 🙂

  12. Reply

    Julie Baird

    I have missed your sweet spirit on Facebook these days. I love this blog and the presence of your gentle soul. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Reply


      Jul, I’m always touched by your kindness. Thank you so much for visiting today and for always being a source of light.

  13. Reply


    Hello dearest Beth,

    I am so happy to read your wise words again. Thank you for share them with us. This is very refreshing to start my Monday that is full of this busy-ness you talk about here… already… I am trying to disconnect more of this over stimulated environment that yes had been affecting my health. Thank you for the guidance and reminders of living in the present.

    Namaste, my dear Beth…


    1. Reply


      Hey Vane! Are you still drawing? I sure hope so. Your art provides a glimpse of how wonderful you are. Plus, it’s one of those activities that keeps us happily in the moment.

      Thank you so much for coming by. I hope to see you often!

  14. Reply


    You have stiff competition to be the world’s best slacker! While uncomfortable, I’ve held the title for far too long. Your analogy is perfect for what to do – the alternative being the nervous system rebelling until you’re really in trouble.

    I look forward to reading your posts regularly, even though commenting from a phone isn’t always ideal.

    1. Reply


      Barb, I know it’s a pain to comment by phone, but I’m so grateful you did!

      Oh, and bring it! I can out-slack you any day! 😀

  15. Reply

    Tammy Minnis

    “When over-stimulation becomes the norm, there’s a price to pay. We open the door to physical ailments. We sacrifice true connectedness in the name of busy-ness. And left unchecked, we unravel.”

    Man can I ever relate to that! I thrive in a hectic environment but I know when I’m about to “burn out”.

    Stop, drop and drink a margarita baby!!

    1. Reply


      LOL! You rock!

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