News Archives

Red Zone, Green Zone, What Colour Is Your Zone?

By Andrea Schmitt
You are furious! Why did your boyfriend not call back? Why did the teacher give you a bad grade? Why can you NOT go home for break? You feel your blood boiling, your feel stressed and are just mad, mad, mad! These are all situations that are out of your control, that happened TO you, but now you are in your personal red zone. Your brain is not working at its best and you literally cannot think clearly now! You want to kick the wall, scream, or hit someone. (Please don’t.)
What to do? Identify, find facts, combat!
Identify: Your friend asks you “Why are you so mad?” and you shout back “I AM NOT MAD!” First, distance yourself a bit. You are not mad, but you are FEELING mad. Mad is a feeling! So, you are feeling mad, and you act like it. Then, ask yourself: Am I feeling mad? If the answer is yes, then it is a yes. If the answer is no, then ask: how am I actually feeling? Am I maybe feeling frustrated, jealous or stressed?
Find facts: Why are you mad/frustrated/jealous/stressed? The first, most probable answer: I don’t know! (You hear these words shouting in your head!) Yes, you DO know! You just need to think back…. It started when you got the report card and the grade was not what you expected. Then your friend showed you her excellent report card and you felt worse. Then at lunch there was nothing to eat that you liked… so now, you are hungry on top of all! And as a cherry on top, in last period your teacher gave you a ton of homework for, you guessed it, tomorrow! So, you find out that you feel stressed out!
Combat: Try to get yourself into your green zone. What is the green zone? It’s the zone in which you are able to think and see things clearly. You can evaluate what to do next, plan your actions and move (the goal would be) forward. How can you do this? By doing something that can relax you, make you feel better and deactivate certain parts in your brain.
After school ideas
  • Take a shower! The feeling of water on your skin, the warmth or cold snaps your mind into other bodily sensations.
  • Call someone you love talking to and maybe say: “I don’t need any advice from you, please just listen!” Get it out!
  • Put your headphones on and listen to music, an audio book or just zone out your noisy roommate who won’t stop talking.
  • Get out of your room (to your friend down the hall, walk outside for a moment), just get out!
  • Do some kind of physical activity (pushups in front of your bed, go for a quick run around Webster, crawl to the gym).
  • Do something with your hands: color mandalas, do needlepoint or squeeze your stress ball.
While in class
Do you still have a few more hours of class and you cannot do any of the above (taking a shower might not be such a good idea…)? Then try any of the following:
  • Practice square breathing, which I'll touch on next time.
  • Try to concentrate on your feet. Really! Wiggle your toes in your shoes for 10 seconds. Then contract some muscles: your butt, your legs, your biceps, your fists and concentrate on these sensations. Then… take a deep breath.
  • Look around the room. Really look at something worth looking at. Maybe look at the hair of the person in front of you, out of the window, at your pen. Then...take a deep breath.
  • Think about something nice like your last vacation, your last shopping trip, your last great rugby practice. Then (yes), take a deep breath.
  • Select other ideas that work for you and only you. My daughter rolls her eyes at me when I tell her to do square breathing, but she likes to take a quick shower (which I hate).
Have a list of these activities ready, either on your phone or in your drawer. The very adventurous ones can put it on their wall. Just have it ready so you do not need to think about what to do when you are stressed/angry/frustrated.
By now, you should be closer to or in your green zone and able to think about what to do next.
Be kind to yourself!

Andrea Schmitt is a life coach specializing in teenage girls and a former Stanstead parent (Jessica Lozano Schmitt 2018). Find out more about her services at or email