STOP Technique Can Lead You To A Better Work Performance!

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Part of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and other mainstream Mindfulness-Based programs, is a simple practice called STOP, for ‘Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, Proceed‘. It can be a stand alone practice, or a complement to more formal sitting meditation. Here, in lay language, are the four steps of STOP, easy for you to pick up, even if you have never practiced mindfulness before.

‘Stop’ means intending to do the STOP practice, and taking a split second from your current thoughts or activities.

Creating space in the day to stop, come down from the worried mind, and get back into the present moment has been shown to be enormously helpful in mitigating the negative effects of our stress response.

When we drop into the present, we’re more likely to gain perspective and see that we have the power to regulate our response to pressure.

The whole idea behind it is that by taking a very brief break—even less than one minute—you can determine the very best action to take in the moment.

Let’s walk through it together:

S - Stop 

T - Think 

O - Observe 

P - Plan / Proceed

S – Stop what you are doing, put things down for a minute.

You received an email from your manager, saying that you have a new task among your crazy schedule; or a phone call from your spouse and s/he is talking about something going wrong at home. Or, you came home and found a complaint letter from the school about your child.

"STOP" technique says; As a first step, just stop; And accept that it is a problem.

T: “Think” or "Take a Breath"

‘Take a Breath’ means turning your attention to the breath, and finding it wherever it is most noticeable in your body. It could be in the belly, or the chest, or the nose... Become aware of the breath as it comes in, and as it leaves the body. You are not trying to change the breath, you are just following it. One or two breaths usually suffice to make that essential connection back to yourself.

O for “Observe”

‘Observe’ means paying attention to your present moment experience. What is happening in your heart? In your body? In your mind? In your environment? You get a chance to check in with yourself in a very immediate, and simple fashion, and to find out which stimulus is most predominant and grasping your attention. It may be pleasant, or unpleasant, or neutral. No need to judge, only notice what’s going on right now.

And the last step: P for Plan / Proceed

‘Proceed’ means resuming your normal activity with the newly acquired knowledge from your moment of mindfulness. Maybe you found irritation you did not know was there, and you can decide to not let it spill over into your work interactions. Or you are a caregiver, and you finally noticed the background noise from the TV and its potentially stressful effect on the person in your care. You turn off the TV. Or you came across tension in your shoulders, and you get a chance to soften the tightness. ‘Proceed’ allows you to re-adjust what might have gotten out of balance, both internally and externally.

Stress inoculation training (SIT), along with cognitive behavior therapy, is particularly successful at preventing the development of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This technique also speeds up the recovery for female victims of sexual violence with PTSD, according to information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Stop! Technique is one of a variety coping skills taught during SIT. Other coping skills include:

  • deep muscle relaxation training

  • breath control

  • role playing

  • positive thinking

Go ahead and try! 

Sources: 1, 2, 3

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