This is a guest post written by Ceri of Across the Great Planes blog. Ceri is a nineteen year old travel blogger who has been dreaming of escaping and exploring ever since she can remember! She’s based in England and is solo travel’s biggest advocate. On her blog, you can find travel itineraries, tips, personal stories and more, in the hopes of inspiring others to join her in stepping outside their comfort zones.
Did you know that around 374 million people are living with anxiety across the globe?
Think about that for a second. That’s nearly 1 in 20 people in the UK – so most of us will know someone affected by it.
The symptoms can be pretty exhausting – from feelings of dread and panic, difficulty concentrating, irritability and feeling detached from yourself and the world around you. It can be really isolating – and that’s not even mentioning the physical feelings!
Restlessness, light-headedness, wobbly legs, pins and needles, difficulty breathing, extremely fast heartbeat, nausea, a disrupted bathroom schedule, sweating, sleep problems, panic attacks… The list goes on. Most people never realise just how difficult anxiety can be to live with.
I’ve suffered with anxiety for seven years now, and, across that time, I’ve tried a LOT of different methods of managing it. Some of them worked; most of them didn’t. I began to accept the fact that this constant anxiety would never be something I could control – it would always be controlling me.
Until I started therapy, and my therapist introduced me to the STOPP method. And that’s when I turned my life around…
The STOPP Method: Overview
So, what is the STOPP method? The STOPP method is something a lot of therapists recommend for controlling your anxiety. It consists of four simple, manageable steps you can use when you feel anxious. The fifth step centres around regularly practising this technique to help you move forward.
Stop and step back from the situation. This could be physically removing yourself from a situation that is triggering you or simply stepping back from your mind with the command ‘STOP’.
T: Take A Breath
Breathe slowly. In, and out. In, and out. Take a breath, and give yourself a moment or two to observe your breathing.
Observe the situation, focusing on your thoughts, feelings, and any sensations you might be experiencing. Some questions which might help you with this include:
- What’s happening?
- What am I reacting to?
- What am I thinking/feeling?
- What physical sensations are happening to my body?
- Where is my focus of attention?
P: Pull Back
Bring in some perspective. Take a step back from the situation and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this fact or opinion?
- What would an outside observer see? What would they think?
- Is there another way of looking at it?
- What advice would I give to someone else?
- What’s ‘the helicopter view’? What would I see if I looked down on this situation from above?
- What meaning am I giving this event for me to react like this? How important is it right now – and how important will it be in six months?
- Is my reaction in proportion to the actual event?
P: Practise What Works
This is arguably the most important part! Once you’ve been following the STOP steps for a while, you should have a good idea of what works best for you when you’re feeling anxious.
For example, I often have difficulty breathing when I feel anxious, so I find it really helpful to take a breath. Once I’ve grounded myself, I pull back and gain some perspective on the situation. I’m a massive overthinker, so asking myself questions like ‘Will this matter in six months?’ and ‘Is this fact or opinion?’ really helps stop the spiralling before it spins out of control.
If you’re having trouble spotting what would be most beneficial for you, there are a couple of questions you can ask yourself:
- What can I do that will be most helpful?
- Will it be effective?
- Does it align with my values and principles?
- What is the best thing to do for me? What about for others? And for the situation?
So – does the STOPP method work? And the answer is: it can.
It’s worked for me. I went from having multiple panic attacks a day to being confident enough to travel alone – and not being able to recall the last time I had a panic attack. For right now, at least, I feel secure in controlling my anxiety.
And I know that can happen for other people, too. If you regularly implement these, I would be really surprised if you don’t see any results.
Despite that, everyone is different, so obviously what works for me might not work for you – and that’s okay, too! There are so many other methods of managing anxiety out there, and I know you’ll find something that fits you and your needs, too. Don’t give up!
So – there we have it! The truth about the STOPP method. Managing anxiety can be a long and exhausting journey, but I hope this showed you an alternative way of doing so.
Thank you so much to Ceri for this informative guest post. I’ve found it really valuable to learn about the STOPP method and I hope my readers will too!
Readers – make sure to share your thoughts in the comments below and also check out Ceri’s blog Across the Great Planes to read more of her adventures and advice.