STOP and other acronyms for slowing down
STOP, PLEASE, and HALT are helpful guides for when you need to slow down and take a step back from your hectic everyday life. Apply these skills when you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. These skills help with identifying your basics needs so you can be better equipped to tackle the challenge at hand.
STOP is a good skill for when you start to feel overwhelmed or notice a spiral down into negative thinking. Applying this skill will prevent you from making a stressful situation worse. It’s a quick easy way to ground yourself in the present moment and make an informed decision about what do to next.
S :: Stop
Stop! Freeze! Literally stop moving. When panicked or stressed our instinct is to react. The emotions hijack our brains and may cause us to do something we may later regret. So simply stop and do nothing.
T :: Take a step back
You can do this either literally or figuratively. This is also a good time to implement some deep breathing techniques. If necessary remove yourself from the situation until you are able to approach in a calm manner. Collect yourself by saying a positive phrase, such as “I can handle this,” or “I’m not helpless.”
O :: Observe
Allow yourself a moment to gather information. Identify your emotions and thoughts. If someone else is present, what are they saying or doing? What are the facts? If you are in immediate danger than get yourself to safety as quickly as you can.
P :: Proceed Mindfully
Now that you’ve gathered the information you can make an informed decision. Again, if you are in immediate danger take the steps necessary to get yourself to safety. If you are not in danger, you can take as much time as needed to collect yourself and decide how to proceed. Identify your goals and actions steps you can take to work towards the goal. Remember to take it one step at a time.
This is a helpful acronym for making sure we take care of our bodies. Our thoughts, emotions, and body are not isolated from each other because we were created holistically. This means that sleep habits and food intake can also impact our mind and emotions. So PLEASE remember to take time to care for your body.
P_L :: Physical Illness
Getting work done with a head cold is a challenge for anyone. More often than not we may force ourselves to push through instead of taking the time to rest. STOP. It’s okay to take an extra day off and allow your body to recover. The sooner you get some rest the sooner you’ll be up and ready to conquer the day.
E :: Balanced Eating
What we eat and how much we eat can have an impact on how we feel throughout the day. It’s important to be mindful about what eating habits help us feel energized. If you’re unsure about what eating habits best meet your needs speak to your primary care doctor or consult with a nutritionist.
A :: Avoid mood altering substances
Substances, including alcohol, may improve your mood in the moment, but you may very well regret it in the morning. The decisions for abstinence or moderation is a personal choice, however it’s importance to know your limits and avoid overindulgence.
S :: Balanced Sleep
The recommended amount of sleep for any adult is about 7 to 9 hours. It may be tempting to lose out on an hour or two to try and get some extra work done, but without proper sleep we’re inclined to make more mistakes. Also, it can negatively impact our mood. Feeling well rested can make a big difference.
E :: Get Exercise
20 minutes of mild to moderate exercise a day can have positive impacts for our physical and emotional health. It’ll also help you sleep better at night. It can be as simple as going for a short walk or switching out the elevator for stairs.
Sometimes amidst the craziness we forget to attend to our basic needs and emotions. HALT is a good acronym for doing a quick check-in. By attending to our basic needs it decreases the risk of burnout and keeps us in prime condition for helping others.
H :: Hungry
When was the last time you had a good meal or eat a healthy snack? Our body needs food to produce energy. Even during a hectic work day it only takes a moment to snack on something healthy. Share in the comments below a healthy snack that helps get you through the day.
A :: Anger
Anger is a natural emotion for when a personal boundary has been overstepped. There is nothing wrong with experiencing anger except when we let it dictate our actions. Identify a healthy outlet for expressing the anger, such as journaling, exercising, or punching a pillow.
L :: Lonely
God created us to be relational, which means meaningful connection with others is a basic need. Keep a list of your closest friends and family for when you are feeling lonely and need someone to help you out.
T :: Tired
Sleep is so important. That’s why it shows up in two of these acronyms. It’s okay to take naps during the day. Sometimes a quick nap is all we need to get re-energized and conquer the day.
References and External Resources
Linehan, Marsha L. DBT Skills Training: Handouts and Worksheets (2015) 2nd edition, The Guildford Press, New York, NY.
HALT: The Dangers of Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Tiredness from Bradford Health Services
How are you Feeling? Take a Minute to HALT for Your Health from Good Therapy
Common Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Acronyms from Delray Center for Healing.