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How to use the S.T.O.P. method for managing stress

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With the pressure of handing in final assignments, revising a semester’s worth of content for exams, and then actually completing those exams, the end of semester can be a stressful time for many students. Implementing the S.T.O.P. method when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed in a situation is a great way to recognise your stress and work to minimise it.

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S = Stop

Stop whatever it is that you are doing that is causing you stress. Find a space that you feel comfortable to sit down or stand.

T = Take

Now that you’re in a comfortable position, take deep breaths. You may not have noticed your breath getting more rapid due to stress. Breathing deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth allows your body to find its natural pattern. It also helps you to be aware of the moment you are in.

O = Observe

Take the time to observe your body, emotions and mind. When observing your body take notice of any physical sensations you are experiencing (what can you smell, what can you hear, what can you see around you). Observe your emotions by figuring out how you feel at the time: has the situation made you sad, restless, frustrated or confused? Observe your mind by acknowledging what you are thinking about. Are you thinking about a million things at once, are you distracted in any way? Observing yourself allows you to be fully aware of your physical, mental and emotional state.

P = Proceed

After taking your calming breaths and observing your body, take note of what you need to do or recognise the activity or action that was making you stressed. Acknowledge your ability to regroup and ask yourself what you need to do right now. You are now able to proceed with what you were doing with a more rational and less stressful approach.

So next time you feel stressed, remember to S.T.O.P. and apply the technique as a way to relax before completing a difficult or possibly stressful task or entering a stressful situation.

Written by public relations student Taysha Sullivan