Mindfulness Exercise For Recovery – SOBER

I first found this exercise through Smartrecovery.org. It is a mindfulness exercise to allow you to come back into the present moment, reflect on what you are aware of and get into a calmer state. I did not create it and I’m not sure where it originated but find that it is a valuable exercise for getting in touch with your emotions in times of stress and overwhelm. I have added a bit of my own spin to it.

When you are feeling a sense of overwhelm or just a negative emotion that doesn’t feel good, try this exercise to become grounded in your body and identify what the best course of action is.

SOBER stands for:

  • S – STOP
  • O – Observe
  • B – Breathe
  • E – Expand
  • R – Respond

S – Stop

Physically stop what you are doing. It will be more effective if you have the time to sit and just get quiet.

O – Observe

Now, check in,

  • What are you noticing?
  • What are you thinking about? What are you saying to yourself?
  • What are you noticing in your body, are you tight and tense?
  • Where are you holding onto your stress?
  • What emotions are you feeling? (Have a list of emotion words handy really get in touch with your emotions)

B – Breathe

Start to do some deep breathing. 5 to 6 deep breaths will help to lower a sense of overwhelm. If you have the time, do a full 2 to 3 minutes of deep breathing as that will induce the relaxation response. When you are feeling calmer and more grounded move onto the next step.

E – Expand

  • What else? What is going on in your environment?
  • What has been happening in the last 24 to 48 hours?
  • Have you eaten?
  • Did you get enough sleep?
  • Are you feeling fatigued?
  • What else are you aware of in your body now?
  • What other emotions or thoughts are coming in?
  • Dig a little deeper, what else does this remind you of?
  • What do you need to do to feel better?
  • Is there a solution, can you let this go?
  • Do you need support?
  • Do you need to nurture or soothe yourself in some way? What does that look like?

Once you feel like you have really flushed it out and know what to do, it’s time to respond.

R – Respond

Take action. This might be take a walk, or let it go and go back to what you were doing, you may want to pull out your journal and write about it. Whether it is nurture and soothe yourself or address the problem head on, you will be more effective from this place of calm than when you were overwhelmed and stressed out.


This might seem like a long process, but it can be done in a few minutes or you can make it a longer 10 to 15 minute process. I encourage you to use it daily for a couple of weeks (even if you aren’t stressed out, to get more in touch with thoughts and feelings), so it becomes something you get skilled at. Then in moments of stress it will be a quick and easy process to feel better.

Spread the love

Leave a Comment