Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The S.T.O.P. Mindfulness Exercise {Free Printable Cards & Poster Included!}

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Looking for mindfulness exercises for anxiety or for kids? Then you'll want to try this STOP mindfulness technique. Be sure to grab the free printable mindfulness cards and poster too!

When it comes to raising an anxious child, one of my main goals is to make sure he has lots of strategies in his coping skills toolbox that he can pick from, whether that's chewing on a chew necklace, doing some meditation after supper, or practicing some deep breathing.

Lately that includes teaching my kids - and myself - a variety of mindfulness techniques and exercises.

One technique that we have found helpful so far is the STOP mindfulness exercise. It's a simple exercise for anxiety that kids and adults alike can use when things get a bit overwhelming.

STOP mindfulness acronym - what is this mindfulness technique for anxiety about?

STOP Mindfulness Acronym: What does it mean? And How Can You Use this Mindfulness Exercise for Anxiety?

When you or your child are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed and need to calm down (before it turns into a full blown meltdown), you'll want to keep the acronym S.T.O.P. in mind.

It's a quick and easy mindfulness practice that you can do anywhere and at anytime.

This exercise doesn't require anything fancy. Although I have included some printable cue cards to help guide you through the technique and help support visual learners like my son.

In terms of mindfulness, S.T.O.P. stands for:


Stop whatever it is you are doing. This might involve looking away, closing your eyes, and/or putting things down for a minute. It's like hitting the pause button on the TV remote.


Take a few deep breaths to help center yourself. You can use one of these deep breathing techniques to help you focus on the present moment. Be sure to really focus on how your breathing feels and how it comes in and out.


Observe what is going on around you and inside you. Notice what you are experiencing in terms of thoughts, feelings, and emotions at this moment.

  • What emotions are present?
  • How are those emotions presenting themselves in your body?
  • Can you name the emotions?

This step is all about connecting with your body, emotions, and mind to take note of what's going on with each. You could also try one of these grounding techniques to help you observe what's happening.


Proceed or carry on with whatever it was you were doing before you started this mindfulness exercise. Or, maybe after reflecting on what you learned during the observation step, you decide that you might need to change course completely. And that's perfectly okay. You can use this step to proceed with a coping strategy or aim for a little self-care instead. Do whatever you need to do to feel supported in this moment.

Free printable mindfulness cards and poster to teach the S.T.O.P. mindfulness exercise

About the Free Printable S.T.O.P. Mindfulness Technique Cards & Poster

This three page printable includes two sets of cards and one poster that outlines the STOP mindfulness technique. The first set of cards is more detailed than the second set as I wanted to have some cards that were simpler and less busy for smaller kids.

Simply print, cut, and laminate the cards and place it on a small binder ring. Then you can take it on the go, place it in a calm down kit, or have available to your child at school. Or adults might find it helpful to keep at their desk at work.

The poster would be a great addition to a classroom or a calm down corner.

Download the Free Printable

To get a copy of this printable, click the link below:

>> Click here to download the free printable

Gone digital? There's a digital no print Google Slides deck version now available for teletherapy and Zoom meetings. Grab a copy here.

Looking for mindfulness exercises for anxiety or for kids? Try this STOP mindfulness technique and grab the free printable mindfulness cards and poster