The premise behind the STEP skill is to take frequent small breaks to check in - with yourself, how you're feeling and the situation around you, before moving forward.
Whether you are looking to practice this skill for yourself, or to teach someone else, we encourage you to try it yourself first! Always helps to have first hand experience with the skill before teaching it to someone else.
This skill involves four steps:
So step #1 - stop 🛑. Take a moment to pause.
This leads directly into into step #2 - breathe. Take a couple deep breaths. If you'd like, try breathing in for a count of 4, holding this breath for a count of 7, and then exhaling for a count of 8. Repeat again if desired.
Once you have taken a couple deep breaths, it's time to move on to step #3 - observe. Observe what’s going on around you. What's going on internally (ie. what's going on in your mind? What emotions are you experiencing?)
Now that you have taken time to consider the situation around you and how you're feeling, what would be the best way to move forward? Step #4 - proceed mindfully.
In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (a popular form of psychotherapy -DBT for short), they teach you about the different "states of mind", including the:
Too often when someone is feeling stressed or anxious, their emotional mind wants to take control. Where their thoughts and actions are being driven by their emotions. This may not lead to the outcome they intended or desired - often acting impulsively or without much thought (if any). Instead, we want to try and encourgae them to engage a different state of mind, such as the wise mind, where they act mindfully instead of impulsively. Where they take time to stop, breathe deeply, be present and calm down so they can think more clearly. Only then do they act accordingly.
This skill is particularly helpful when experiencing a heightened state of stress, or when emotions are running high. So the next time you notice emotions are about to take control, remind them to STOP!