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The value of pause and reflect

Are you finishing your day fatigued and possibly a little stressed?

Is this because you are short on time and long on ‘to do’ lists?

Would you like to adopt a simply strategy that will allow you to calm your mind and re-energise your body?

Would you like time to process and make sense of your day or week?

We are bombarded with messages day in and day out from all forms of communications, telling us if we buy, achieve or realise this goal our lives will be happy.  It is very easy to join the band of consuming and acquiring.  It is easy to start using the word ‘need’ implying these things are a dependency for our happiness.  When in reality they may be something we ‘want’ but we do not ‘need’.

So let’s say you have acquired, achieved or attained.  What happens?  Does the joy of this new thing quickly evaporate leaving you searching for the next ‘thing’ to fill our void. Or are you moving so fast, you don’t have time to stop and acknowledge or enjoy it.

Stress eating does not alleviate real stress

Unfortunately there is no new thing that stops problems, challenges and difficulties landing on our door.  These things do not prevent us from feeling fatigued, stressed and strung out; unfortunately it is our pursuits of these things that are often the cause of us feeling this way!

I read a quote recently…”Today I will live in the moment unless it’s unpleasant, in which case I will eat a cookie”.  Yes, I agree, kind of cute.  But there is a more serious undertone.  It suggests that when we are on the busy train of life and all is well we are okay but when life gets difficult you should seek out an immediate short term fix to redirect your focus away from what you are finding difficult or challenging?

What do you reach for when things are not going to plan, when you are stressed and life has gotten difficult?  Is it a glass of alcohol; food – maybe chocolate or icecream; recreational drugs; cigarettes; do you slump dazed in front of the telly, meet your friends for a big drinking session, or do reach for your credit card and indulge in some retail therapy?

What is your form of escape or unwind?  Can you cope without your fix or release?  Does it make your problems disappear or resolve the cause of your stress?

Chronic stress undermines our health

It is estimated we have anywhere from 70,000 to 90,000 thoughts a day.  Pretty mind blowing stuff (if you pardon the pun).  No wonder we can finish our day or week feeling frazzled and fatigued.  We know thoughts and unending activity have a significant influence on how we feel.  Stress (mental or physical) can undermine our sleep, our digestion, our immunity, our memory and concentration, our sex life, our mood and increase our blood pressure.  Yes, I know it is enough to want to make you crawl under the covers.

So without trying to sound like a broken record, I will sound like a broken record and emphasise how important it is we develop strategies that will enable us remain centred, calm and accountable regardless of what is going on in our life.

Living mindfully to let go of stress and anxiety

I believe you need to find a way of living life with a sense of fulfilment and serenity that affords you the ability to maintain or tap into peace of mind now, tomorrow and in the future, regardless of whether life is feeling wonderful or difficult.

One of the most important strategies to build into your life is ‘pause and reflect’.  Taking time (ideally) daily to:

  1. Pause – become present
  2. Scan – become aware of what you are thinking and feeling
  3. Breathe slowly – to calm your mind and soothe  your body
  4. Reflect – bring clarity of thought and focus into your life

It is clarity of thought and focus you require to ensure you are aware of:

  1. What activities and/or people you are investing your energy in day to day.
  2. Whether these activities and/or people align or are important to your life priorities.
  3. How your choice of life priorities and activities impact on your state of mind and sense of wellbeing.

It is also clarity of thought and focus you need to:

  1. Understand and be accountable for resolving the cause of stress in your life.
  2. Remain calm and accountable in looking objectively at a problem, a challenge or a difficulty.
  3. Find the path and approach for resolving or dealing with problems, difficulties or problems.

And as just as important to all the things above … you need clarity of thought and focus to know when to laugh, to see the funny side of life.  It is so easy to get caught up in the serious side of life!

Cultivate daily quiet time

How do you achieve clarity of thought and focus?  – You create a space for quiet time.  These can be regular activities you build into your week or they can be breaks you create during the day.  The form of quiet times will differ for each of us.  Possible options may include:

  • Simply sitting quietly for 10 minutes
  • Finding a quiet park bench to sit on
  • Taking a quiet meditative 15 minute walk
  • Practising guided meditation
  • Joining a meditation group
  • Exploring meditative Yoga
  • Practising Tai-chi
  • Making time for a spot of fishing
  • Engaging in a ’ quiet’ two way conversation
  • Writing a journal
  • Joining a stretch class
  • Taking a regular long warm bath
  • Lying starfish in the park and gazing at the sky
  • Pressing the snooze button in the morning and lying quietly in bed
  • Planting and tending to a backyard herb garden

I encourage you to create daily quiet time.  A time for you that allows you to slow down, that allows you to sit comfortably and quietly.  It should be a time not focused on achieving or solving something, or which has a specific goal or outcome in mind.  Its initial and primary focus should always be to calm your mind which in turn will also calm your physical state.  It should facilitate you developing clarity of thought and focus.

Choose to pause and reflect daily

It will take time to develop your quiet time practice.  Start with just 10 minutes each day.  Find a quiet and comfortable spot, away from the busyness.  Select a focus, you can focus on your breath, adopt and repeat a calming phrase (it can be as simple as breath in and breath out) or you can sit quietly and simply observe your thoughts without engaging or acting on them for 10 minutes.

Choose to make ‘pause and reflect’ fashionable and essential to your life.  With time and practise it will become an essential part of your day.  I believe you will be amazed at the benefits.

I wish three things for you:

  • A peaceful mind
  • Peaceful speech
  • And a peaceful heart

Stay safe, happy, healthy and free.

ciao Jan