Improve This Very Moment by "Pressing Pause"

mindfulness stress Sep 02, 2022

 A simple strategy for leading a more meaning life

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

I still 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. Today I'd like to tell you about those signals and several effective ways to quickly regain your balance.

Be aware of your body's "stress signals"

Here are a few indicators that it may time for a “stress reset”:

  • Your muscles feel tense and heavy. Especially those in the upper back and shoulders, and jaw. (This is from a build-up of stress chemicals like cortisol.)
  • Enjoyable activities feel difficult or more like tasks.
  • Having trouble finding motivation.
  • Feeling chronically irritable and moody.

But improving moments like these can happen more quickly, by doing one simple thing...

Just pause.

That means to stop whatever it is that seems so important and instead, try one of the following ideas:

  • Close your eyes for 30 seconds or more and slow down your breathing. (Here are some of my favorites.)
  • Read something inspirational.
  • Listen to the sounds of nature.
  • Put on your shoes and go outside for a walk. 
  • Turn off the computer or phone and engage in a small breathing exercise for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  • Admire photos of people you love.
  • Play with your pet.
  • Call a friend.

The intention of pausing is to find something to draw you attention away from 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, you're invited to take a few seconds to check in with yourself. Just close you eyes and notice what's true how you’re feeling in your mind and body—without judging it.

Simply observe.

Then, ask yourself: "What's one healthy thing I'm willing to do right now to help myself 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 to improve the moment you're in

To recap, remember to do three things this week:

  1. Familiarize yourself with your stress triggers.
  2. Make a point to “press pause” when they arise.
  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.)

Lastly, 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.

Be Well, 

Jim Donovan, M.Ed.

P.S. – If you’re looking for a few guided exercises to help you “pause” and find your calm, you might be interested in one of my most popular guided audio tool kits—Sound Solution. This 7 part collection can help you clear your mind, and reduce anxiety or depression. Simply click here to learn more or to get started today.

🧐 Ready to feel great? Try This 12 Minute Sound Based Vagus Nerve Stimulation Exercise Right Now For Free!

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Jim Donovan M.Ed. is a multi-platinum musician, educator and TEDx speaker. His mission is to share the restorative power of music through education and performance. He is also an Assistant Professor and Director of Music and Wellness at Saint Francis University.

His viral TEDx Talk "How to Trick Your Brain Into Falling Asleep" has been viewed over 6 million times to date.

Learn more:

The material provided on this site is for educational purposes only and any recommendations are not intended to replace the advice of your physician. You are encouraged to seek advice from a competent medical professional regarding the applicability of any recommendations with regard to your symptoms or condition.

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