S.T.O.P

3 September 2021 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

S. T. O. P is a mindfulness tool I often use in my daily life and it’s one of the most effective tools I share with my clients. It was created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. (MBSR)

I find this informal mindfulness practice to be very grounding and it can be done in a minute. It’s always available and it’s short and practical. Practiced regularly, it can have a positive impact on your eating and other aspects of your daily life by creating some space to connect. When we are able to pause for a moment using S.T.O.P, we are more able to choose our response wisely instead of behaving reactively.

S. T. O. P has four steps:

S

Stop. Take a moment to pause what you are doing.

T

Take a deep breath (or two)

O

Observe and open up to physical sensations; thoughts and emotions.

Observe any sensations in your body. Scan your body from top to toe and noticing any obvious pain. Are you hungry or hot? Cold? Then shift your attention to observe your mind, noticing thoughts. Are you worried, planning, catastrophising? Are you in the past, present or future? Shift your attention to observe what is arising emotionally. Are you feeling an emotion that is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral? Can you  name the emotion? Once you have observed  can you open to the sensations, thoughts and emotions with curiosity, allowing things to be as they are, with no judgement.

P

Proceed with care. Once you have observed and opened up to bodily sensations, thoughts and emotions, proceed to the next moment with greater awareness, care and attention.

What are the benefits of
S. T. O. P?

…brings us back to the present moment
…reduces stress and anxiety
…slows down the “monkey mind”
…helps us gain perspective and choose the best possible next step
…facilitates connection with ourselves and our needs
…assists with emotional regulation
…interrupts autopilot thoughts and behaviours
…reduces reactivity
…infuses a moment of mindfulness into your day
…re-orientates you to focus on your most important priority

I have included a recording of the practice as a gift for you.

I hope it helps bring moments of mindfulness and calm into your day.

Wishing you well,
Xen

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“From our first meeting - two faces on Zoom across the world from each other, there was a sense of familiarity and comfort that was a healing balm for a lifetime of food struggles and dieting. Without realizing how much damage I had done to myself by adhering, for decades, to restrictive food plans and rigid diet programs, Xen had a way of redirecting the harsh and negative self-talk and sending me forth each week with compassion, mindfulness and a new way of seeing myself in the here and now. Gone are the maybe somedays, and if-only, and when-I’m-smaller thinking. Now I am committed to the imperfect and rocky path to listening to my body, accepting my perfect imperfections, and rejecting diet mentality. Those negative voices will revisit me from time to time, I know, but Xen has offered valuable tools for meeting each day as a fresh start - another choice, another chance. Her devotion to this work and her belief in her clients is a remarkable gift; I am so fortunate to have found her. It is never too late to let go of the drama and embrace joy, ease and self-acceptance.”

Karen L, Denver, USA

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Karen J, Colorado, USA

“I reached out to Xenia because 2021 started on a tumultuous note for me. Between deaths, businesses suffering, hospitalizations, and job losses in our personal circle, I felt depleted and found myself being available for everyone but myself. Then I was hit with an unexpected health diagnosis, which was the last straw as it meant giving up “healthy foods” and workouts that I leaned on for my well-being and stability. Despite working in wellness (Yes, coaches and healers are vulnerable too!), I found myself reaching out to desserts for comfort. I like to live a life of permissions (not labels or deprivation leading to bingeing), so I wanted to work with someone who approached healing from a place of mindful compassion. I didn’t want to be my own client. Xenia was great in reminding me to be kind to myself. Working with her, brought me peace and helped shift my mindset. I love how desserts and I look at each other now.”

Sweta Vikram, New York, USA

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Daniela Velásquez, Ottawa, Canada

“Working with Xen was a game changer for me. After working together for a few months my relationship with food radically changed. I no longer felt like a failure. I now have the tools to nourish my body with foods that feel good in my body. I don’t feel guilty about eating cake or chocolate, I also don’t overeat cake and chocolate. I no longer feel the need to exercise to compensate for my eating. I feel much more free around eating and I am more accepting of my body. Xen has a nonjudgmental and compassionate approach to coaching and really supports you in the process.”

Rachel, Dublin, Ireland

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Heather B, Cork. Ireland

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Michelle, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Diana, Vancouver, Canada

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Certified by The Life Coach School Certified and Trained by The Original Intuitive Eating Pro Professional Member of The Center for Mindful Eating