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How To Manage Stress: “Doing Mode” Versus “Being Mode”

By Rebecca Stambridge

Do you struggle to switch off after a day at work? Or do you regularly find yourself rushing from task to task, putting yourself under pressure, with a mind full of to-dos? If so, it’s likely you are stuck in “Doing Mode”. What is Doing Mode? “Doing Mode” is a term used in mindfulness which describes how we feel and behave when the goal orientated part of our brain is activated. It’s focused on fixing problems, getting stuff done and achieving things. Depending on the situation the primary chemicals driving the behaviour may be dopamine (from the boost you get from rewards) and adrenaline (if we are stressed and in fight and flight mode). We need “Doing Mode” to function as we may not achieve anything in life or resolve issues that need a solution. However, too much time in “Doing Mode” is problematic and linked to stress, anxiety, burnout, insomnia and other mental wellbeing issues. Signs you spend too much time in doing mode include:

  • Doing things too quickly.

  • Pushing yourself to achieve more than is realistic.

  • Critical of self or others if things are achieved.

  • Ruminating on problems that have no solution.

  • Motivated by competitiveness and comparing self to others.

  • Irritable or problems controlling temper if things do not go your way.

  • Overly focussed on the future such as excessive planning

The opposite of “Doing Mode” is “Being Mode” which is characterised by letting go, slowing down, feeling content, cultivating self compassion and being aware of, and meeting, our own needs. We need a healthy balance of the two but “Being Mode” is harder to cultivate if we are used to “Doing Mode”. “Doing Mode” feeds itself so the more we are in it the harder it is to get out of it, particularly in certain types of driven, energetic people. How to develop “Being Mode” We can cultivate “Being Mode” by using mindfulness such as a regular meditation practice. We can also manage doing mode by being more mindful in our daily life. For example:

  • We can regularly take mindful pauses through the day to notice whether we are feeling stressed in the body or having busy “to do” thoughts and ask ourselves whether its necessary to rush around so much.

  • Or we can do a mindful activity at key points of the day to prevent the build up of stress such as a mindful lunchtime walk, cup of tea or a breathing exercise on the way home from work.

  • We can also notice if our feelings are linked to pushing ourselves too hard or being critical and try to be a bit more compassionate to ourselves.

If you would to find out more about my mindfulness services feel free to contact me.


About Rebecca

Rebecca has worked in mental health for over 15 years, empowering others to improve their wellbeing. She is an integrative therapist as well as a mindfulness and compassion teacher. As well as 1-1 and group client work, she loves to write blogs and guides, helping others learn skills to improve their wellbeing.

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1 Comment

Amy Temple
Amy Temple
Nov 21, 2021

Great advice😁👍

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