What often happens is we let our stress or anxiety build and build all day without doing anything about it, trying to ignore it, and just hoping it will go away. Then, when we finally can’t take it anymore and start feeling overwhelmed, we’re desperate to find a way to manage all of this stress and anxiety and get some relief, but at that point, it can be so hard to get any relief.
The more we allow stress and anxiety to accumulate, the more difficult they become to address. That’s why one of the keys to managing stress and anxiety is to find ways to not let them build up so much in the first place.
One effective way to accomplish this is with an exercise called STOPP. STOPP is designed to help you stop stress and anxiety in their tracks, as soon as you begin to notice them, rather than waiting until they become overwhelming.
STOPP stands for:
- Stop what you’re doing
- Take a few deep breaths to calm and gather yourself
- What physical/physiological symptoms am I experiencing? Where in my body am I experiencing them?
- What thoughts am I having? What is going through my mind? What am I saying to myself?
- What feelings or emotions am I experiencing?
- Perspective—get some
- What can I say to myself to help calm myself?
- Is there another way of looking at it?
- What advice would I give to someone else in this situation?
- What can I do to help relax and calm myself?
- What is an appropriate and effective way for me to deal with this?
In the video below, you’ll find a similar mindfulness-based exercise that you can also use to help manage stress and anxiety.
Everyone has trouble dealing with high levels of stress and anxiety at times. Rather than resorting to damage control when your stress or anxiety gets to be too much, the key is to find ways to not let things to become so extreme in the first place.
Doing one of these exercises whenever you become aware that you’re starting to feel stressed or anxious can help ease your stress and anxiety before they start to build. This is a great way to prevent stress and anxiety from becoming unmanageable and save yourself from becoming overwhelmed. In the next couple of posts, we’ll look at some more tools you can use: the Breathing Time Out and the Three-Minute Breathing Space and Mindful Check-In