The 3B Method For Lowering Your Stress Response

Self-ImprovementStress Management

  • Author Carmen Gilfillan
  • Published May 4, 2024
  • Word count 985

As we go through our lives, there may be times when we’re challenged, and that challenge can result in us feeling under stress. We may, automatically, assume that the stress we’re experiencing is bad. The reality is, however, that there are two types of stress. There’s the kind that galvanises and motivates us into action (Eustress) and the sort that ensures our survival (Distress)…and we need both in order to survive and thrive.

There are three ways we can manage stress so that we benefit from the galvanising type in order to progress in our lives, but also depend on the survival type to stay alive and well. The three ways are: Breathing, Breaks and Balance: the 3B method.

  1. Change your Breathing

Breath acts as a kind of bridge between stress and relaxation. When we’re in a state of distress, we’re in what’s known as fight flight. This is our survival mode, which, if it continues for too long, can have a detrimental effect on the body. When we’re in a state of calm we’re in what’s called our rest and digest state, where we can, among other aspects, access our creativity in order to resolve our issues. You can change from one state to the other just by changing how you breathe. There are many different types of breathing, one of which is the simple Letting Go Breathing Method. This is a great tool that prevents the potentially destructive type of stress from spiralling out of control.

As an activity, try the letting go breathing method now. It involves getting yourself comfortable, with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Take a breath in, and breathe out. Now take a deep breath in, and on the out breath consciously and completely let go of any mental, emotional and physical tension you’re holding in your body. Breathe in again, and on the out breath let go of even more of the tension you’re holding.

Repeat this simple cycle three to five times. At the end of all three to five cycles, you may find you feel calmer, more relaxed and more energised to take on the challenges of the day. Even just a few minutes of this type of breathing can begin to calm your nervous system, and move you from fight flight to rest and digest.

  1. Take regular Breaks

Especially in these challenging times, it’s easier than ever for us to continue working without taking a break. When we’re absorbed in our work, it can feel counter-intuitive to stop and rest or do something different. However, taking regular breaks allows you to rebalance, revitalise and refocus. When you return to your work, your energy is fresher and you're better able to concentrate and produce. Breaks also increase productivity, as you don't waste time and valuable energy on distractions to mitigate boredom. Finally, breaks allow you to move your body. If you're sitting at a desk, and find yourself in one position for an extended period of time, take a break and move your body. Go for a walk, do some stretching or go for a run.

As an activity, take a short 5-15 minute break every 30, 60 or 90 minutes. Choose what you do in that time. You may wish to just change activities. If you've been sitting, you may decide to stand to make your next phone call, you may want to exercise as suggested above, or you may decide to do something physical like cleaning, sorting or tidying. Find creative ways to work these breaks into your day and see what effect this has on your energy, focus and productivity.

  1. Learn how to Balance your life

Balancing your life will help you reduce the stress that can arise from you feeling you're neglecting certain key areas of your life, for example your relationships, finances or social life. One way of avoiding this is to take regular snapshots of your life. This involves reviewing all the key areas of your life, scoring them and working out a plan to improve, or progress them.

As an activity try the following life balancing technique. Take a sheet of A4 paper. Draw a large circle in the middle of the page. Draw a horizontal line across the middle of the circle and a vertical line down the centre of the circle. Intersect both lines with two diagonal lines to produce eight evenly spaced sections. Label each section with what you consider your eight key life areas: eg health, relationship, social, finances, career, spirituality, personal development, and family. About half way along each section spoke write the number ‘5’. At the end of each spoke write the number ‘10’.

Consider each area in turn. How well are you doing in terms of your health for example? If your health is good you may give that area of your life an 8 out of 10. If so, put an ‘x’ on the spoke that represents the position ‘8’. If, for example, you’re not happy with your family life, you might score that a ‘4’. In this case put an ‘x’ on the spoke that represents ‘4’. Continue in this way until you have scores for each area. Then join each score to the next with a straight line.

This will create a shape on the wheel that indicates how balanced your life is. Look at the shape. What does it tell you? What steps can you take to bring your life into balance? Once you’ve completed this activity, you can then put together your own plan to redress the balance in your life.

The above 3B method, carried out regularly, constitutes just three simple, but powerful ways in which you can begin to take control over the stress in your life, successfully lower your stress response, and move from being dominated by distress to being motivated by eustress.

Carmen is an author, speaker, healer, achievement coach, and wellness specialist. She runs a wellness and self-development practice, Stimulus, which is based in the UK. Carmen has written the 7-step self-care and success book, The Inner Rising, to help readers do the inner work to rise to the next level and design their ideal life. You can order the book at: Contact Carmen at:

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