The “STOP” acronym stands for stop, take a breath, observe and proceed. This four-step technique can take a minute or less. If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious, the STOP mindfulness technique might help you calm down quickly. You can use it to ground yourself in times of stress and overwhelm. This simple method is ideal for anyone who wants to practice mindfulness, whether you’re new to mindfulness or a seasoned meditator. How to use the STOP mindfulness technique:

Stop what you are doing
The first step is to press pause on your thoughts and actions. Whether you’re in the middle of a confusing workplace issue or experiencing racing, upsetting thoughts, try to stop for just a second. This isn’t about fighting your thoughts or trying to “clear your mind,” but about mentally telling yourself that you’re about to shift your attention elsewhere.

Take a breath
This step is about paying attention to your breath. Breathing mindfully is a good way to centre yourself in the present moment. You can inhale and exhale mindfully, paying attention to the sensation of breathing.

Observation is a key component of mindfulness: it’s about being aware of your internal and external world. You can observe your:

Bodily sensations: What physical sensations are you feeling? Is any part of your body sore or tense? What can you see, hear, taste, smell and physically feel?
Emotional state: What emotions are you feeling?
Mental state: What are you thinking? What assumptions or judgments are you making about yourself?

Once you’re ready, you can continue with whatever it is that you’re doing, whether you were in the middle of a difficult conversation or trying to focus on work. Try to incorporate what you’ve learned — for example, if you noticed that you’re feeling stressed out about a workplace issue, perhaps you can skip that for now and go to the next task and return to it when you feel rested and calm.

The STOP mindfulness technique is a relatively simple way to ground and calm yourself in times of stress. You can also use it to deepen relaxation and practice mindfulness in everyday situations.