Updated: Oct 30
The modern world tends to be incredibly busy. We often find ourselves rushing from place to place, from activity to activity. From the moment we wake up until the moment we get back in bed at night, we’re often focused on our to-do lists – which just never quite seem to get all the way done.
What gets lost in all of this activity is the power of the pause.
There’s a huge amount of value in taking a short pause from the chaos of daily life. During this time, you don’t try to check things off your to-do list, and you don’t try to get anything done. You give yourself some time and space just to be, and to appreciate and enjoy your life.
If you don’t take pauses regularly, then it’s very likely that your body will force you to take a pause. Chronic stress definitely increases the risk of major health problems, and if you don’t pause and let the stress release, then it’s going to catch up with you at some point. Even if you feel like you don’t have time for a pause, the truth is that you really can’t afford not to take pauses.
Different people may prefer different ways of taking a pause. Here are 5 ways to harness the power of the pause. You can choose one or more of these – whatever feels right to you.
1. Taking a mindful walk
One great way to take a pause is to take a walk. In general, the walk won’t really feel like a pause if you try to walk as fast as you can or time yourself. Instead, just walk at a pace that feels comfortable. Allow yourself to notice whatever is around you – flowers, clouds, how the breeze feels on your skin. Take this time to feel your body, and to appreciate being alive.
During your mindful walk, thoughts will likely arise. You might find yourself thinking about whatever you’re most stressed about. Don’t try to push these thoughts away, because that just makes them even stronger. But don’t get stuck in a loop of thinking about your problems, either – that wouldn’t be much of a pause. Notice the thoughts, then gently try to draw your awareness to the world around you, or to the sensations in your body.
Journaling is one of my favorite practices. I’ve always found it very helpful in processing my thoughts and emotions. In fact, I think journaling is one of the most powerful mental health practices there is. It really helps you to sort through everything that’s in your head and get clarity on what you’re really thinking and feeling. I’ve gotten so many insights through journaling. It’s also a fantastic way to take a pause and simply be with yourself.
It’s very important to remember that whatever you write while you’re journaling is only for you. No one else ever needs to read your journal. Just write whatever comes to you, and let the words flow freely without any editing. The process is intended for you to discover your own thoughts and emotions.
I recommend a practice of daily journaling, for 10 to 15 minutes. You could choose to do this at the end of the day, to process whatever came up that day. You could also start your day with journaling, to get clear on what’s important for you and set your intentions for the day. Whatever works for you is great.
3. Listening to music
If you enjoy music, you can fold that into your pause. You could turn on your favorite song or two (or more!). You might want to just listen to the music, allowing yourself to fully enjoy it, maybe appreciating the nuances that you might not have noticed before. Or you might want to dance, allowing yourself to freely express whatever you feel from the music.
Many people have music on in the background while doing other things, but it’s rare to take the time to just listen to music without doing anything else. This can be a great way to enjoy something that brings you pleasure, while also giving yourself a much-needed break.
4. Taking a mini-nap
When you’re running low on energy, a 10 to 15 minute nap can be surprisingly refreshing. Even if you don’t quite fully fall asleep, just allowing yourself to close your eyes and “turn off” for a few minutes can make a huge difference in how you feel for the rest of the day.
If you’re feeling tired and a nap sounds good, this could be a fantastic way to take a pause. In most cases, a nap of just 10 or 15 minutes will be more refreshing than a 30 minute nap. This is because a 30 minute nap is long enough that you may fall into deep sleep. It’s hard for your body to wake up from deep sleep, and many people feel groggy for a while after being awakened in this stage of sleep. With a shorter nap, you’ll stay in the lighter stages of sleep, and you’ll be refreshed but not groggy afterwards.
There are many different forms of meditation, from breathing exercises to guided meditations to just sitting in silence. If you find a type of meditation that works well for you, this can be a fantastic way to take a pause. There are many different apps available that can teach you various forms of meditation, or you can search for meditation videos on YouTube.
Meditation has become a bit of a buzzword lately, and some people feel pressured to start meditating. Honestly, I only recommend doing this if you find a form of meditation that feels really good to you. You don’t want to create another source of stress, where you’re forcing yourself to do something that really doesn’t feel good and doesn’t truly help you relax. If you find a type of meditation that feels great and that you really look forward to, enjoy it. If you find that it’s just a chore that you dread, skip the meditation and try one of the other ideas on this list. If you force yourself to do something, you won’t really get the benefits of taking a pause.
Take Any Type of Pause You Want!
These 5 ideas are only a starting point. If there’s something else that you’d really like to do during your pause, do that! As long as it’s something that’s relaxing and that doesn’t feel like an obligation, it will be a great way to harness the power of the pause. You could make art, do some yoga, take a bath, look out the window and watch the birds…whatever it is that would feel relaxing and nourishing to you.
However you spend the time, make sure that you’re taking a pause at least once a day, and more is better! The reduced stress will be hugely beneficial for your mental and physical health.
If you’d like some support in reducing stress and making other healthy lifestyle shifts, I invite you to join us inside Mind Gut Skin Academy! I teach many different ways to help support the health of your skin, as well as your overall health. (Because everything in the body is connected, all aspects of health can impact your skin!) You can head here to learn about the brand-new version of the program that’s launching soon, or to get on the waitlist!