Have you ever felt swept up in a mental loop and unable to stop your mind from snowballing? I know I have! Over the winter season, I have been doing a training with Alex Howard (a therapeutic coach I discovered through the Trauma Super Conference) in a program called RESET. It focuses on teaching body-based techniques to move into a secure and stable nervous system state (think a pile of puppies), instead of having a nervous system in fight, flight or freeze. I’m halfway through and loving it!
The STOP technique is a means of redirecting your attention when you begin to follow a train of thought that is activating your nervous system into fight/flight/freeze. As I tend to find the word ”stop” a bit alarming, I decided to use the word ”pause” instead. You can use any word that works for you. The goal is to break up the habitual pattern to go into overwhelm and restore a feeling of grounding and safety. Since we really can’t effectively problem solve when we are in fight or flight, prioritizing being centered means we will be much more able to navigate whatever challenge is coming up in our lives.
- Say your target word (stop, pause, breathe) and use a hand gesture to indicate this. You can use any hand motion that feels good for you.
- Ask yourself if you would like to choose a different response to whatever is worrying you and commit to taking a different path.
- Breathe: You can use whatever technique works for you. I like to breathe in on the count of one, breathe out on the count of two, breathe in on the count of three, out on the count of four, etc up to ten and then start again.
- While you are breathing, turn your attention to the present moment and your physical self. You can focus on your feet and do a slow scan up the body, or just notice any part of your physical system that would like your attention. This isn’t about fixing anything, it is about being there with yourself, keeping your energy and attention on yourself and not on what is worrying you.
- Continue the breathing until you feel less triggered and back to your center.
A few additional tips based on my experience…
EFT/Tapping while you are breathing can be really helpful to stay focused. There are many wonderful videos on You Tube for free that teach the tapping technique. I love Brad Yates, Nick Ortner, or Jessica Ortner.
Energy Medicine techniques are also a great way to keep present with your body and it also helps to balance your system. I love Prune Harris and Donna Eden! They both have tons of free videos sharing different techniques on You Tube. If you want a personalized suggestion, you can set up a coaching session with me and I can teach you some techniques based on your needs.
Don’t go immediately back to the problem after you finish the Stop process. Wait until you are able to approach the challenge from a place of secure and stable. If you don’t feel able to do that, then get some support.
Ask yourself if the challenge is real. Often after I am out of overwhelm, I realize that what I am worrying about doesn’t even exist! For instance, maybe I am worrying about what might happen in the future or something that happened a long time ago. When I pause, breathe slowly, and come back to the moment, I know that everything is really okay. I can let go and enjoy what is happening right here, right now.
I hope this technique helps you the next time you are feeling triggered!
Love to all!