Everyone has had those moments where anxiety creeps upon them, making it difficult to summon focus and concentration, or worse, move through your day freely and happily. It is okay to have these moments, what matters is how you choose to deal with them.
Mindfulness is a tool to help people bring awareness to their actions, emotions, thoughts and so much more. Think of mindfulness as switching off of autopilot and being intentional with how you live your life, from picking out your thoughts like how you pick out your clothes down to controlling each breath you take.
These tools can help you take control of your body, mind and wellness for living your best life. Mindfulness has become a popular lifestyle trend for living well and intentionally, including many well-known and proven mindfulness techniques.
One of which is called, STOP, it is an acronym for Stop, take a breath, observe and proceed. Use this technique when you feel anxiety coming on and need a way to control your thoughts.
Stop What You Are Doing
One of the biggest points to bring awareness to in mindfulness is your stress. Many people go on autopilot with their emotions, especially throughout the week and when it comes to stress. In modern society, stress is almost the new normal and people burn it like fuel. Especially Millennials and Gen Z, who are reporting higher rates of anxiety and other mental health issues than previous generations.
Take the time to build awareness about your stress levels throughout the day. Make it a habit by checking in with yourself. Don't let the moments escalate to high stress, learn to recognize the early signs of a stress response and maintain your connection with the present moment stay focused on the day.
Although when the moments do arise, remind yourself to stop. That is the first step in the mindfulness process STOP, which is of the same name. When you stop what you are doing, you can take a moment to center yourself and refocus on the present moment to bring down stress levels.
Take A Breath
After having stopped during your moment of stress, move on to the second stop in the acronym technique: take a breath.
When you take a breath it allows your body to reset and refocus on the present moment. Taking a moment to catch your breath amidst a stress response also helps you regain control of your emotions.
This is vital for your health and feeling your best, but also for being able to reach the end goal of the exercise, proceed.
If you don't stop to reset with a breath, it is just more difficult to recenter yourself and feel your best.
When you are stopping to take a breath, observe as your body changes. Ask yourself what brought on the stress trigger? How fast can you control the stress response with breathing?
If it takes longer one day than it does another, don't fret, every day your body is different and therefore has different needs. The most important thing is to show kindness to yourself as you observe what is happening within your mind.
Observe your thoughts, what thoughts were brought up? Are they thoughts you can control? Or thoughts you can reframe if they are negative?
Being able to take control of your thoughts is essential to go on with your day, and decide how you want to live it. You rule your thoughts, your thoughts don't rule you, be intentional with how you decide to come out of the stress response moment and take back your day.
Once you have regained control of the moment and you feel like your mental state is stable it is essential to move on with your day. It should feel empowered to regain control and decide how you want to continue.
If you aren't feeling 100% after the stress response, another avenue to take is to proceed to do something that will support you such as seek emotional support from a friend or do something for yourself such as take a walk or drink some water.
There is no shame in needing more time other than the STOP moment to return to feeling your best, the important thing is to not go on autopilot but to build habits that support your mental health.
STOP is a great technique for building mindfulness around your day-to-day life, even if you aren't having a large stress response. You can use STOP to make mindfulness a habit and learn to go off of autopilot.
Life is for living, not for running through the motions unintentionally. Feel autonomous by doing, thinking and living with mindful intention.
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