How Learning to "Press Pause" Changed My Life

happiness stress Oct 25, 2021

Even after years of teaching people how to manage stress, I’m not immune to feeling its effects from time to time.

I encounter times where I neglect to rest and recharge my internal battery, or take care of myself in the ways that I should. And over the years, I’ve learned to give myself a little grace... I’m not perfect.

But more importantly, I’ve also learned to recognize the signs of when I’m overly stressed. This way, I’m able to take the proper steps to realign myself, before more serious problems ensue.

Think about your “stress reset”

Here are a few of my personal indicators that it’s time for a “stress reset”:

  • When my muscles feel tense and heavy. Especially those in my upper back and shoulders, and sometimes my jaw. (This is from a build-up of stress chemicals like cortisol.)
  • When creative work feels difficult or like a task.
  • When I have trouble finding motivation.
  • When I feel constantly irritable and moody.

These are a few of my “red flags” that I’ve taken note of over the past few years. And when I start to feel them, I do one simple thing that’s helped me time and time again…

I pause.

I pause whatever it is I think is so important at the time.

And then, I do one of the following:

  • Put on my sneakers and go outside for a walk.
  • Turn off my computer or phone and engage in a small breathing exercise for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Admire the photos of my kids on my desk.
  • Play with Merf, my sweet dog.

(How can I resist playing with this little guy?!)

  • Strum a few chords on my guitar.

The trick is to find something to help you get out of your stressful state and instead, focus on something meaningful, something that you love, or something that helps you find your center.

Take a quick self-inventory

Right now, I invite you to check in with yourself. Ask yourself how you’re feeling.

Is there something you can do right now to help yourself feel better?

Maybe it’s enjoying a walk, bird watching, doing a crossword puzzle, or listening to a favorite album…

The point is, whatever else is going on in your life at the moment can wait while you take a few moments to do something for yourself.

Pausing gives you an opportunity to find clarity, and it makes the moments that follow all the more enjoyable and meaningful.

It’s never too late for healthy change

And last but not least today, I want to encourage you that no matter what happens or how many times you forget…

You can always pick back up and recommit to taking impeccable care of yourself.

(I sometimes need a reminder of this myself!)

So just as a recap, I want you to remember to do three things over the coming months:

  1. Familiarize yourself with your stress triggers.
  2. Make a point to “press pause” when they make themselves apparent.
  3. Remember what’s really important in your life. (It’s my hope that your health and your happiness are right at the top of that list.)

The bottom line is, you truly can achieve anything you set your mind to if—and only if—you stop to take care of yourself along the way.


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