Mindfulness has many benefits – from grounding you in the present moment to calming your inner turmoil. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable emotions such as distress, anxiety, and anger, and it’s easier to ignore these emotions and move on. Mindfulness techniques can help us acknowledge these emotions without judgment and bring us to our present state.
Denying or ignoring your uncomfortable feelings and emotions can only make them worse and can manage to negatively affect your mental and emotional health. Mindfulness, or the state of being self-aware in the present, can be a great way to alleviate these feelings and emotions.
But, with so many mindfulness practices, which ones are the most effective, and which are the ones you can practice without spending more than a handful of minutes?
Among so many mindfulness techniques, there’s one that I’ve used in the past and continue to do even now when I feel stressed, anxious, troubled, or even angry.
The STOP mindfulness technique. Let’s take a look at what is the STOP mindfulness technique, its benefits, and how you can practice it!
What Is STOP Mindfulness?
The STOP mindfulness technique is a four-step process that can help you stop, pause, observe, and ground yourself to your present. The STOP acronym stands for Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, and Proceed.
With this mindfulness technique, you can replenish your energy, get creative, or add insight to whatever you’re currently experiencing or thinking. The four-step process is a quick mindfulness technique where you take a break that’s less than a minute and where you can quickly work on the best course of action to take.
This technique of mindfulness is more often than not taught in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs. You can learn more about how MBSR works in this blog. The best part is that you can use the STOP mindfulness anytime you feel stressed, agitated, or unsettled.
Here are some of the benefits of the STOP mindfulness technique;
Benefits Of STOP Mindfulness
Mindfulness techniques help you become self-aware of your present while being accepting of your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. This practice can help you control your emotions, and impulses, and soothe any negative thoughts running through your mind.
In a recent study, it was found that mindfulness techniques can help teenagers and adults with calming ADHD symptoms, anxiety, chronic pain, depression, eating disorders, sleep troubles, day-to-day stress, and other issues.
Here are other benefits of practicing mindfulness:
Helps reduce loneliness
Helps improve attention span
Helps improve mood
Helps manage post-traumatic stress disorder
Helps reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety
While meditation or mindfulness techniques aren’t substitutes for therapy or medication, they can be used as a supportive practice to cope with your symptoms. If your symptoms are severe and need professional intervention, then it’s recommended that you reach out to a professional counselor.
Now, let’s take a look at how you can practice the STOP mindfulness technique!
Practicing The STOP Mindfulness Technique S = Stop What You’re Doing
The first step of STOP mindfulness is to pause your thoughts and actions. Whatever you’re doing, stop. For example, you’re sitting in the middle of an exam and you’re experiencing racing thoughts. Just stop what you’re writing for a second and pause your whole being.
The aim isn’t to fight your thoughts, but it’s about mentally redirecting your attention to something else. So, STOP what you’re doing and take a breath.
T = Take A Breath
Now that you’ve pulled a stop at your thoughts, bring your attention to your breathing. Pay attention to what you feel when you inhale and what you feel as you exhale. Mindful breathing is a good way to bring your thoughts to a standstill and redirect your attention.
The idea of this step is to bring your attention to something as simple as your breathing, so stop whatever you are doing and TAKE A BREATH.
O = Observe
The third step of STOP mindfulness is observing. Now that your attention is on your breathing, observe your surroundings – internal and external. You can choose to observe the sensations you’re experiencing such as the five senses (what can you hear, see, touch, taste, or smell). You can also choose to observe your emotions (what you’re feeling), your mental health (what you’re thinking about), or anything around you that you can focus on.
This step allows you to pause and check in with yourself and OBSERVE what’s affecting you so badly or how it is impacting your thoughts.
P = Proceed
The last step of the STOP mindfulness technique is proceeding. Once you’re ready to go, you can continue with whatever you stopped doing. In our case, you can now proceed with writing your exam. You can use the knowledge you gained by observing your surroundings to your actions now.
This last step aims to see how stressed you have become and how you can PROCEED while taking one step at a time.
Here’s an example where the STOP Mindfulness technique has been employed;
You’re talking to your spouse/partner about something important, but you feel agitated about the points they are making. Using the STOP technique here can help you realize that you’re too worked up to make rational decisions, so you put a hold on the conversation and decide to come back to the argument when you are calm and your mind is clear.
Meanwhile, you can try to engage in other calming activities that can make you feel better such as repeating a positive affirmation, going for a walk, meditating on the topic, or doing some gentle exercise to calm yourself down.
Amazing technique, isn’t it?
The STOP Mindfulness technique is a very simple yet effective way to bring yourself back to your present moment and calm your racing thoughts. You can also use this technique to reduce stress and anxiety when you feel highly distressed. You can also use this STOP technique to relax and clear your mind in everyday situations.
Mindfulness benefits are many so use mindfulness techniques to their fullest and enjoy living in the present moment without judgment and worries clouding your thoughts and mind.
I hope that learning about the STOP mindfulness technique will help you enjoy its benefits. For more, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media. You can also share your experiences and thoughts with us in the comments below.
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