Before you spiral into the trap of stress, worry, and anxiety, remember to S.T.O.P. We often meet various kinds of pressure and stress throughout the day, and we all know that if we are not able to control our responses, then it affects our moods, our actions and words, our relationships, and our health. So it is very important that we are armed with tools that enable us to positively deal with such situations.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a prominent researcher in the area of mindfulness, has developed a simple tool that allows us to take a quick mindful break when we need it most. The S.T.O.P. Skill or S.T.O.P. Acronym stands for Stop, Take a breath, Observe, and Proceed. It’s a system that we can use to determine the best action to take at any given moment, particularly the stressful ones.
It helps us to notice, for instance, that we are not being kind to ourselves when we engage in negative self-talk, or that we are so physically tense that we are already harming our bodies. During these times, a short break can do wonders.
How to S.T.O.P.
All you need is a few seconds to about 5 minutes to pause and to introduce the habit of intention and awareness into your daily life. Find a comfortable and quiet place and sit or stand in silence with your eyes closed, if needed.
STOP whatever you are doing and notice how it feels.
TAKE A BREATH and focus on each inhalation and exhalation. Check the rhythm and speed of your breathing.
OBSERVE your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, but don’t judge them, just be aware of them. Acknowledge them and say that it’s okay, if that will help.
PROCEED with greater awareness and mindful intention.
As you try to incorporate the habit into your day, try to find opportunities for your S.T.O.P. practice. For example, when you wake up, while showering, before eating, as you are waiting in line at the supermarket, at the end of your workday, while waiting at a stoplight, and so on. Some people set alarms throughout the day to serve as reminders to take these mindfulness breaks. The more you S.T.O.P., the more you allow your mind to stay calm and clear.