How To Halt Stress In Its Tracks With The S.T.O.P Technique

In an increasingly chaotic world, it can be challenging to manage unexpected stress. Stressors can be everywhere, from worrying television news to encountering traffic on the way to work. In such situations, the instinctive human response is either to push against the stress (fight) or to run from it (flight). But the fight or flight response isn’t always the healthiest way to deal with minor inconveniences or even considerable stresses — it can be draining and highly impractical. Instead, you might want to “STOP” stress in its tracks altogether. Here’s everything you need to know to take the control back and say no stress.

The STOP Technique Explained

The STOP technique is a four-step process that allows people to reject the sentiment of stress either permanently (for minor problems, such as breaking a cup) or temporarily (for potentially devastating news, which may require later consideration). This process enables those who practice it to give themselves the time to internalize news in a healthy, serene, and accepting manner. With this added time, they can think of rational and empathetic ways of responding, which allows them to dispel the sentiment of stress they are encountering effectively.

Practically, the STOP technique can help you express more patience, tolerance, and positivity at work, in school, at home, or while attending social events. It will help you survive the stressful situation and walk away from it, confident in your ability to deal with whatever may occur next. For instance, when encountering conflict with a colleague at work, the STOP technique may allow you to pause for long enough to reconsider what was said or done to cause you offense. It will enable you to create space for empathy, which you will use to try and understand why a person may have acted as they did. This can make you have easier, more comfortable conflict resolution and can help you avoid butting heads with colleagues, family, partners, or other social relations altogether.

How The STOP Technique Is Practiced

S-T-O-P is an acronym for Stop, Take deep breaths, Observe and Proceed with the appropriate action.

  • Stop:

Pause for a few moments. Let your mind be still and present as you practice mindfulness. 

  • Take a Few Breaths:

Breathing is integral to stress responses. Take deeper, slower breaths and exhale for twice as long as you inhale. This stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is accountable for your ability to relax and digest information. Take as many breaths as you need until your mind starts to feel clearer and the information you have received more manageable. 

  • Observe What Emerges:

The emotions you feel bubbling within when confronted with stressful information are highly informative. Observe your own mental and physical reactions. Take notice of how fast your heart is beating, how steady your breathing is. Consider your sentiments, and the underlying emotions or history they may be caused by.

  • Proceed Appropriately:

Once you have observed the premise of the stressful situation, you may begin to hear things clearer as they really are, objectively. Sometimes this means realizing that a situation does not actually require a reaction on your part. Other times it entails walking away or calmly expressing a disagreement. Either way, you will need to reach into the underlying awareness of what the “right” course of action is, and proceed confidently.

If someone you know could benefit from stopping their stressors from taking over, share this resource by clicking below. They could be one short read from a life of serenity, away from the stresses they once knew. 

Written by Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at MyDailyBrain is a team of enthusiastic experts who have a passion for human cognitive and brain sciences. View all authors »

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