|“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”. Viktor Frankl. Excessive worrying
|Excessive worrying can literally consume our minds and cause us to go into a vicious cycle of anxiety, which is why it is so important to use this one key skill to help you challenge your thoughts.
HOW TO USE STOPP STOP! Just pause for a moment
TAKE A BREATH Notice your breathing as you breathe in and out.
OBSERVE What thoughts are going through your mind right now? Where is your focus of attention? What are you reacting to? What sensations do you notice in your body?
PULL BACK – PUT IN SOME PERSPECTIVE What’s the bigger picture? Take the helicopter view? What is another way of looking at this situation? What advice would I give a friend? What would a trusted friend say to me right now? Is this thought a fact or an opinion? What is a more reasonable explanation? How important is this? How important will it be in 6 months’ time? It will pass.
Practice WHAT WORKS – PROCEED What is the best thing to do right now? Best for me, for others, for the situation? What can I do that fits with my values? Do what will be effective and appropriate.
|Practice the first two steps often for a few days – many times every day at any time. Read through the steps often. Carry written reminders with you (use the printable resources below). Practice STOPP by running through all the steps several times a day, every day…when you don’t need it. Start to use it for little upsets. Gradually, you will find that you can use it for more distressing situations. Like any new habit or skill, it will become automatic over time and geniually see the change in your thinking and your excessive worrying gradually becoming less and less. Excessive worrying
Stop! Say it to yourself, in your head, as soon as you notice your mind and/or your body is reacting to a trigger. Stop! helps to put in the space between the stimulus (the trigger, whatever we are reacting to) and our response. The earlier you use STOPP, the easier and more effective it will be.
Take a Breath. Breathing a little deeper and slower will calm down and reduce the physical reaction of emotion/adrenaline. Focusing on our breathing means we are not so focused on the thoughts and feelings of distress so that our minds can start to clear and we can think more logically and rationally.
Observe. We can notice the thoughts going through our mind, we can notice what we feel in our body, and we can notice the urge to react in an impulsive way. We can notice the vicious cycle of anxiety, sadness, or anger (etc). Noticing helps us to defuse those thoughts and feelings and therefore reduce their power and control.
Pull back / Put in some Perspective. The thought challenging of CBT. Thinking differently. When we step back emotionally from a situation and start to see the bigger picture, it reduces those distressing beliefs. We can do this by asking ourselves questions.
Practice what works / Proceed. This is the behavioral change of CBT. Doing things differently. Rather than reacting impulsively with unhelpful consequences, we can CHOOSE our more helpful and positive response. You can paste this 8 times on an A4 sheet, print it off, cut it up and keep a small card handy in your wallet, on your desk, handbag or wherever you find it useful.
Try this skill a few times on the smaller things and keep practicing. You might find it a bit challenging at the start, but the more you practice it, the easier it will be to challenge those excessive worrying thoughts.
Source: Fry1989 eh? / Public domain