Feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed? Or just need to drop in and slow down? Here are three quick, easy and effective visualizations to have in your took kit - can be pulled out and used whenever you need to build in a pause. By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS (click link to go to article) ~ http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2014/06/3-simple-visualizations-to-help-you-relax/
First, a big thanks to Carol Vivyan at GET.gg for giving me permission to share her STOPP worksheet(s).
We all find ourselves in difficult emotional situations - the kind where we know we need to think before we speak, but we're losing perspective fast, our feelings are getting bigger, we're struggling not to react - you know those situations..... Carol has created a wonderful worksheet called 5 "First Aid" Steps for Self-Help in difficult situations. The acronym is STOPP!
S - stop and step back. Don't act immediately.....Pause
T - take a breath. Notice your breath as you breathe in and breathe
O - observe. What am I thinking? What am I feeling in my body?
What am I focusing on? What am I reacting to? Is this fact or
P - pull back! Put in some perspective. Zoom out...see the bigger
picture. Is there another way to look at the this? What would
someone else say about it? Does it affect others? How important
is this situation right now?
P - practice what works. Consider the consequences. What's the
BEST thing to do? Is this in line with my principles and values?
Do what will help most!
Think about situations where STOPP might be useful to you. And then think about how specifically STOPP could help you in those situations. It's helpful if you can figure out what you'd like to be different in these specific situations so you can have a goal to work towards. Try practicing STOPP on some situations that are less difficult or emotionally charged to get familiar with the 5 STOPP steps. Try picking one situation a day to practice on....it's a lot easier to learn something if you start small, and practice more often! Then when you run into a difficult situation, you'll be familiar with the steps. I't's much harder to learn and put into practice a new skill or technique for the first time during a crisis. It's sort of like learning to sail a boat, or learning to ski (or think of a metaphor that works for you). You start in calm waters or on the bunny slope, and as you get more familiar and comfortable with what you are doing and gain experience, you move on to open, choppy water or steeper ski slopes. The goal is to be successful as you learn, so again, start small! Most people tend to start "big", then think they can't do it, it doesn't work, give up etc. The tendency is to blame oneself rather than realize you may have started with a situation that was very challenging to learn on.
To help you with learning STOPP, I've included links below to STOPP worksheets on Carol's website. (clck on the link to go to workshop pages) And I'm hoping to introduce some of Carol's other worksheets that I think could be useful in later blog posts.
http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/STOPP.pdf (STOPP description worksheet - complete)
http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/STOPP4.pdf (Simple version STOPP description worksheet)
http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/STOPP5.pdf (5 column STOPP thought record worksheet)
http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/STOPPworksheet.pdf (another version STOPP thought record worksheet)
The 3 Minute Breathing Space is an effective tool for building in a momentary "pause" at any time during the day, helping us to re-balance and come out of Automatic Pilot mode. And in coming out of Automatic Pilot mode, we can be more in control of/have choice over our responses, come more into the present moment, interrupt unhelpful patterns of rumination, and reduce feelings of stress and overwhelm. You can take a 3 Minute Breathing Space momentary "pause" whenever you need to throughout your day. Research has shown that deciding when and where you are going to "do something" means you are more likely to follow through on your plan, so think about your "when" and "where" for your 3 Minute Breathing Space momentary "pause". You can even put a reminder alert on your phone or computer to help you remember.
Fun fact: You might notice your breathing naturally and easily slowing down, deepening as you take your 3 Minute Space momentary "pause"....this helps to down-regulate your central nervous system - as your outbreath lengthens and slows, so does your heartbeat.
How to take a 3 Minute Breathing Space (Each step lasts about a minute)
Step 1 - Becoming Aware
Start by finding a an alert, yet comfortable position for your
body and close your eyes. (or if this is the first time you are
doing the exercise, you can read the instructions to yourself and
over time, adapt the excercise as you want to.)
Become aware of your body, notice the sensations of your
feet, your hands, the surface upon which you are sitting
or standing. Gently bring your attention to your inner
experience and acknowledge it, asking yourself "what am I
experiencing right now?" Become a gentle observer, just noticing.