How to S.T.O.P. When You Can’t Stop


March 16, 2021

How to STOP with mindfulness

Growing up in classrooms with fire safety lessons, I learned how to “stop, drop, and roll” from an early age. I also grew up in the 90s, so I was very familiar with rapper Vanilla Ice telling me to “stop, collaborate, and listen.” But even though the word “stop” was a huge part of my formative years, I’m still really bad at it as an adult, and I don’t think I’m alone.

Our productivity-based work culture not only makes it hard to stop when we need to for our mental health, but it also makes it hard to stop without feeling guilty. And as we reflect on the one-year anniversary of the Coronavirus pandemic, let’s explore how “stop” may have multiple meanings in our lives.

How We’ve Experienced “Stop” As a Verb During the Pandemic

A year ago this month we collectively, as a country, experienced a full stop to the way we lived our daily lives. Wearing masks, social distancing, quarantining, school and work shutdowns, and frequent hand hygiene are just a few of the examples of how we’ve had to stop the way we used to live and adapt to new habits for our health and safety.

It was Pi Day – March 14th – that everything changed for me. Stores began to shut down, mask mandates were enforced, and I experienced a sudden blur between work and home. Even though I already worked remotely before the pandemic, the increased amount of time at home made it hard to stop sitting at my desk and also hard to stop putting off my own self-care.

It’s still hard, even a full 365 days later, to navigate the physical and emotional stops of this pandemic. Luckily, “stop” isn’t just a word – it’s also an acronym for a useful mindfulness practice.

S.T.O.P As a Daily Mindfulness Practice

There are going to be days when it’s hard to move past the anxiety, frustration, anger, and other emotions that surface as we all continue to ride this wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. When it’s all feeling like too much, S.T.O.P. is a strategy that you can easily use to check in with yourself.

  • Stop. Whatever you’re doing – take a pause, even momentarily.
  • Take a breath. Your breath is your anchor to the present moment.
  • Observe. Notice what’s happening around you and bring your attention inward to also notice that’s happening inside you – where is your mind going and what feelings or physical sensations are surfacing?
  • Proceed. You can choose to either continue what you’re doing or change course depending on what came up for you during the check-in.

The Benefits to STOP When You Can’t Stop

Even with a regular mindfulness practice, it’s still easy to get caught up in the work day and in all of the responsibilities of home and family. S.T.O.P. is a practice that you can apply anytime throughout your day regardless of how much time you have to dedicate to yourself. 

Whether you set an alarm to stop and S.T.O.P. once a day or if you have to sing or play “Stop in the Name of Love” periodically throughout the day to help you remember, every minute of mindfulness makes a difference to your focus and overall well-being.

Written by Becky Greiner