This article was originally published on Thrive Global on April30, 2021 after taking a short pause from writing.
“A pause is an opening, it acts as a portal to other options and choices.”- Robert Poyton
Before the Pandemic of 2020, many of us were conditioned to always “do”, but what if you permitted yourself to pause? What if we could become more productive by taking time to pause and recharge ourselves? Hitting the pause button can be a powerful step to turn inward, and reflect on all that you’ve already accomplished. Permission to have smaller goals, maybe some that nobody else will see. Creating space for yourself to appreciate all the abundance you already have, instead of constantly striving to do more.
The Harvard Business Review states, “resilience requires working hard, but it also requires one to stop, recover, and then begin the hard work again.” The harder you work, the longer the recovery period you need. Athletes can attest to this. If we think about our pre-pandemic lifestyles, we were going at life pretty hard. It seems natural that pressing pause on that way of life during the pandemic would help us recover. Or at least make us re-evaluate our work and non-work activities and how we’re using our human energy.
In April, I experimented with hitting the pause button. With spring’s arrival, I wanted to slowly emerge from the hibernation of winter. I love spring because of its warmer days and cooler evenings. The sunlight glows longer while flowers burst with color after the darkness of winter. What a perfect time to pause, take in the beauty of the new season with gratitude and hope. There’s something about spring that highlights possibilities ahead.
Here’s what happened when I permitted myself to pause. After mostly staying home for a year through the pandemic we decided it was time to safely get a change of scenery, and go out of town for Spring Break. I was ready for a break from teaching virtual school, and the monotony of the same walls. My daughter was ready to see her grandmother and the beach again. My husband and I both were ready to hit the pause button on our daily parenting responsibilities and Grandma was eager to spoil our girl a bit. A road trip to visit my mother-in-law was a win-win for everyone. I packed books and committed to using my phone solely for listening to music and calling to check in on my dad. I committed to setting the out-of-office reply the entire week to stay out of my Inbox. I also chose to take a break from creating content and writing. Normally we find ourselves snapping lots of pictures, but this time, I even paused that! It was a blissful and intentional time that I permitted myself to pause, and be FULLY present.
As an educator, I have breaks naturally built into my calendar every year, but even if you don’t have those attached to a kid’s school schedule, it’s just as important to schedule and take time off. Pressing pause gives you time to reflect and recharge. When our energy is low, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and simple pleasures of a new season might be what we need instead of adding to our calendar or to-do list. This is a gift we can give ourselves more often. In our hyper-connected world, it seems impossible sometimes, but we must do it.
Now that April and my experiment with the pause button are coming to an official end, I don’t intend to go back to constantly being on the go. My head is more clear, my “to do” list is shorter and more intentional. The white space on my calendar doesn’t make me want to plan something else to do. This is a new normal I’m happily embracing. It’s empowering and refreshing. The pause is a gift you can give yourself.
I hope that as you begin to safely return to some of your “normal” lifestyles, you’re inspired to find ways to hit the pause button more often than you did pre-pandemic. We have this option. We get to make this choice. We are worth it.