Rinse. Wash. Repeat: Breaking the Cycle of Stress to “Up-Level” to the New Normal

February 24, 2023 - Dr. Miko Rose

Note: This message refers to sensitive details that may be triggering regarding the violence our community experienced. Resources and assistance can be found here.

Miko Rose, DO, FNAOME, is a psychiatrist with MSU Health Care Psychiatry and an assistant professor in the Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry. She created and is the Program Director of “The Joy Initiative,” a project she started at the College of Human Medicine and College of Osteopathic Medicine at MSU. The program seeks to provide physicians with emotional resilience tools.

Psychiatrist Dr. Miko RoseValentine’s Day came and went. We hardly noticed it. With the incredible tragedy of recent events, it’s hard to imagine a day of celebration.

And yet we did—for some of us quietly, by showing up tirelessly in support of colleagues, students, others who needed us. For others of us, taking the time, to have a few moments to catch our breath.

Nearly three days had gone by for me before I realized I hadn’t been deeply breathing. My jaw was tight, I’d misplaced my phone numerous times in a small space. I noticed faint unrecognizable bruises on my thighs—likely from walking into things with no idea. I hadn’t been breathing deeply through the chaos and continual motion of jumping into service. At one point I had to stop, take a moment, break the stress cycle, hands on belly—and breathe. Deeply. take intentional moments of pause, just to allow





          In between.

Can a space and a pause, be a full sentence, for all of us…just this once?

Rinse. Wash. Repeat. Trauma floods in, we stop, we brace, we have trouble sleeping at night, we become forgetful about simple little things.

Rinse. Wash. Repeat. How could this happen? Was there something I could have done? Why do I feel so vulnerable and guilty?

Wash. Tears keep flowing onto my yoga mat in my one moment of silence.

Sirens blazing down the street—we all jump, young woman at front of the yoga class trembling in the corner.


The five stages of grief, most often starting with numbness—for others, skipping the stage and going straight to anger. We have all cycled through this, the stages of grieving, of being strong through a trauma, feeling anger, denial, bargaining, grief, and letting go into surrender and acceptance.

The only way we are going to stop this cycle is if we take a pause. The wheel needs to stop spinning for the cycle to stop. This is the power and beauty of mindfulness—or taking any kind of pause, is to create a pause that breaks the spinning cycle of stress.

In light of Valentine’s Day, for those of you who missed it—myself included, for these next few days I invite you to take a moment and celebrate something sweet and tender you may have missed. Take the moments to spend time with a loved one, appreciate a friend, go for a walk and connect with nature, watch a funny movie that makes you laugh to the point of tears. Even better, do nothing. In countries across the globe, the practice of doing nothing is itself considered an art.

Create enough “margin” by taking pause now to give from reserves and overflow, rather than from a patten of stress, depletion, and over-fatigue. This can become a personal reset for a new normal. This can also be a new benchmark for our communities and work settings. We have been given an institutional gift of a university pause. Some of us remain quite busy supporting others during this time, and for all of us, I invite taking time to recharge so that we can show up in service and “give” from a place of abundance of energy.

Wishing you all deep peace, compassion—and a really good pause.