Building Emotional Resilience: Using the STOP Skill to Deal with Feelings of Distress

Our Goal with Negative Emotions

It is difficult to feel pain, sorrow, worries, and other powerful and negative emotions. However, our goal is not to suppress those emotions. Instead we need to learn how to handle them in ways that are healthy.

We do not want to be reactive. We want to be mindful and aware so we can make the best decisions possible.

The STOP skill helps us to do just that!

Using the STOP Skill

The purpose of the STOP skill is to help you maintain your control over your emotions, thoughts, words, and actions. This is especially helpful in highly-charged emotional situations.

STOP stands for:

  • Stop! Stay in control and don’t react to your emotions
  • Take a step back from the situation; take a break, let go, take a deep breath
  • Observe – Notice what you are thinking and feeling. What is going on around you? What is the situation? What are others saying?
  • Proceed careful; act with awareness and make the best decisions for your situation.

At first it will be difficult to do all four steps each and every time. However, as you practice the STOP skill, you will find it easier. It will become a habit for you. It will help you take control over your emotions and eventually you may even be a support and source-of-strength to those around you.