Isabelle Griffith is a emotional wellbeing and resilience coach, yoga teacher, host of The Mindful Path podcast and regular Thrive Global contributor. View profile
Pressing pause vs. pushing through
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a client about her experience of burnout.
She described the feeling of emptiness, hollowness and the sense of being utterly depleted.
The day after she recognized these feelings, she didn’t get up. Going to work seemed like an insurmountable mountain.
She didn’t go that day, or any day for the following six months.
For months, she had been pushing through, past her exhaustion, stress, and anxiety. She had never taken the time to press pause and simply acknowledge how she felt.
By the time she noticed, it was too late.
When was the last time you pressed pause?
In our fast-paced life, we rarely take the time to pause, take a few breaths and notice how we ACTUALLY feel.
And while ‘pushing through’ might work for a while, eventually, it catches up with us. Our body shuts down, our mental health plummets – stopping is no longer a choice.
After months of living in an undercurrent of uncertainty, many of us are running out of steam, having lived in our stress response for such a long time.
Between the uncertainty of what the future holds, the lines between work and family life blurring, the endless hours of zoom calls and the general busyness of life, it’s easy to see why we may be feeling emotionally and physically drained.
Gradually, we have exhausted every ounce of resilience we had.
More than ever, this is a time to nurture ourselves and our wellbeing.
And I wonder… when was the last time that you pressed pause?
I don’t have time to press pause…
Pressing pause or slowing down often feels like a luxury we just can’t afford. We’re either too busy or we feel that stopping for a moment would be indulgent…
Yet pressing pause for a few breaths is the simplest way to de-activate our stress response and experience a moment of calm.
Not only will it help you to re-gain a sense of peace and clarity, but each pause will also contribute to developing greater resilience over time. Think of it as the deep, nourishing breath you take as you come up for air when you’re swimming.
This pause is your oxygen.
How to press pause?
If you are feeling anxious or a little wobbly at the moment, here are a few simple ways in which you can pause, refill your resilience reservoir, and navigate these times with more ease:
1. Press pause : pause what you are doing and take a few slow and deep breaths. Imagine breathing in the smell of your favorite flowers and blowing softly on a candle as you breathe out. It will help to calm your nervous system down.
2. Ground yourself : notice the soles of your feet resting on the ground and the unconditional support of the floor beneath you. Relax all the touch points between your body and the chair you are sitting on. Remind yourself that you are safe.
3. Ask yourself these 2 simple questions : am I ok right now? What do I need? It will help you to come back to this moment and to give yourself the support you need to feel better resourced to cope.
4. Learn to feel anxiety without drowning in it or resisting it : lean in and allow the feeling to run through you, noticing what it feels like in your body. If you start feeling overwhelmed, pull gently back and practice grounding again (see step 2).
5. Shake it off : use movement to shift the stagnant stress energy out of your body. Run, dance, walk, or simply shake your body. Imagine the stress and anxiety being released as if it was dripping out of your fingertips.
6. Practice investigating your thoughts : what’s on your mind that is keeping you feeling anxious? Is there another way you could be looking at your circumstances?
7. Nurture your wellbeing : nourish your body, prioritize sleep and bring into your life more of what gives you joy and replenishes you physically, mentally and spiritually.
8. Choose to see the glass half full : practice gratitude. When you despair at the state of the world and feel somewhat hopeless, try expanding your perspective and noticing the nuggets of positivity that are also present in your life. What is going well? What gives you joy?
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of these steps. Building resilience is like sowing a parachute – whilst each individual stitch might feel pointless, they each play a role in strengthening the structure.
So today, give yourself permission to press pause and build the resilience you need to cope with life’s ups and downs with more ease.
Short Article Review
Pressing pause is often seen as a luxury, an indulgence that we don’t have time for. Yet it is vital to help us feel more emotionally resilient. In the times we live in, pressing pause is like coming up for air.
If you are feeling anxious or stressed at the moment, here are 8 simple steps you can take to feel calmer and more positive:
- Press pause and take a few deep breaths.
- Ground yourself by tuning in to your body.
- Ask yourself: am I ok right now? What do I need?
- Learn to feel anxiety without drowning in it or resisting it.
- Shake it off: use movement to shift the stagnant stress energy out of your body.
- Practice investigating your thoughts.
- Nurture your wellbeing.
- Choose to see the glass half full by practicing gratitude.
The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about any medical condition.
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