Hanni Berger CEO JOYVIAL
The Power of “The Pause”
Do you ever snap at your children or husband then regret it right after? Has your unintentional harsh tone of voice ever made one of your team members retreat? Or, did you feel bad about honking on a Sunday morning at the car in front of you because someone was driving ‘too slowly’?
How often do you wish you paused? Just briefly, right before things went wrong. A pause to recollect yourself, to second guess what you are about to do, and to potentially make a better choice to remain calm. You know that it will most definitely lead to a more productive outcome.
But there are a number of other reasons to pause. For example, taking a break from monotonous work can make you more creative. A moment of intentional silence before walking in the house after work can allow you to show up as the loving parent you want to be.
Pauses most often help us be a better person on the other side. We are more patient, more caring, we take time to listen more, and we regain our own energy to continuously tackle life.
No matter if it’s a short pause, like breathing in silence intentionally calming down your mind and body, or a longer pause, like a long weekend getaway, these pauses help us return to who we truly are when balanced and at peace. Also, let’s not forget that calming down our mind with intentional pauses reduces cortisol in your body and therefore reduces disease inducing inflammation.
3 Steps to Incorporate Pauses in Your Life:
It may seem that incorporating pauses in your life is impossible, but all it takes are these 3 things. A little can go a long way. Keep at it and you’ll start seeing the world around you calm down too.
“I used to stress a lot but today I feel more settled and less worried. My calm has even spilled over to my family so the entire household benefited from my time with my health coach."
~ Saida Sharapova, MD MPH
1. Become Conscious: Take time to become aware of how your pauses make you feel. Feeling the benefits will give you the motivation to do it again and again. Know that you are doing something really healing for your mind and body.
How: check in with your body before and after taking your first few pauses. You’ll likely find that you feel anxious or have shallow breathing before taking a short break and will very likely feel more at peace, calm and relaxed after. Remember that good feeling and make it your motivation to take pauses regularly.
2. Fitting it in: Take time to think where in your life you can take breaks. It’s all about being intentional so look at all hours of your day, from the moment you wake up to when you are going to bed, and see where you need breaks. If you know you are going into a difficult meeting, please don’t wait until you sit in the meeting and get agitated but rather give yourself a moment before. Here are a few other ideas:
Get up 10 minutes earlier than the rest of the family in the morning, grab a cup of tea and sit in the dark before the house wakes up. Consciously feel the warmth of your tea move through your body. Breathe.
Take a minute between work and getting home. If you are working from home, find space before engaging with your family. Park your car a block away from home, or sit in the garage for a few minutes before walking in, or hide in a quiet room in your house. Just sit in silence and breathe.
When you feel calmed down, think about your intentions of when you are with your family. Ask yourself a these questions:
- “How do I want to show up for my family right now?
- Do I want to offload my work stress on them or find a more productive way to love on my family and myself? If so, what does that look like?
- Who in my family needs me most and how can I best be there for him or her?
When waiting for your kids in the car in the school pick up line, sit in silence, breathe. After a few minutes, think about your intentions when the kids jump in the car (see above).
Block a 10-minute buffer between meetings. This is not email time, but rather intended for you to get out of your chair, look out a window to allow your eyes to adjust to long-distances and breathe as you observe every detail in Mother Nature. Focusing on what you see calms the mind.
Go for a walk in nature. Maybe take your kids with you. But whatever you do, leave your phone tucked away. This is your ‘me-time’. Watch the clouds, listen to the birds and feel the breeze on your skin. Nature is one of the best ways to reduce stress hormones in your body so, well worth the time.
If you work from home, make sure you have a designated time to ‘close your office’. When you were still working at the office you shut down at a certain time to get on the road in time for dinner, didn’t you? Why not shut down at that exact same time now and walk away from your desk? Somehow the work still got done in the past, so why wouldn’t it today?
In short, wherever you find the space and time to take a pause, sitting in silence and intentionally breathing is your priority.
Whenever you are ready to head back to your busy life, make sure to first set your intentions about how you want to handle the next block of time before taking another pause a few hours later.
3. Schedule it: It’s nice to feel inspired to make the desired changes in your life, but nothing happens until you actually do it. The moment you shut down, ten new things will crowd your mind and you’ll forget. The only way for you to make it happen is if you schedule it or set yourself recurring reminders…right now.
Use the tools that are most productive in reminding you about all your other priorities in life. For some it’s their calendar, for others it’s a daily alarm on their mobile phone. I also like using sticky notes in my house or other stickers that remind me of my ultimate purpose for doing it all. These stickers on my bedside alarm clock and my bathroom mirror remind me that my goal is to be happy. It’s a reminder to be grateful and to simply smile.
Another good way to remind yourself is to do it every day at the same time when nothing else would have the potential to come in between. This could be intentional breathing the moment you wake up in bed (before even getting up) or reflecting on all the good in your day when turning off the lights at night. But again, even this set up initially still needs a reminder (like a sticky note on your nightstand).
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