I recently took on a new position here at the Pearl Day Spa, which has me taking on more hours and duties. I love keeping busy and accomplishing projects at the spa, but I feel the increased pace leaking into the rest of my life. More time at work means less time to get stuff done around the house. Less time for that means close to no downtime. Life has a sneaky way of getting hectic. It may not happen intentionally, or even suddenly. Gradually more commitments are added to the calendar, and before you are aware of it, you’ve agreed to 20 events in a weekend. Okay, well maybe not 20; more like 5. But in the midst of all these events, albeit fun, you still have to keep on top of those naggy little tasks of life, like laundry and cleaning and eating and sleeping. In a crazy, hectic, tumultuous life, it can seem impossible to have any downtime. “Downtime? You mean shirking responsibilities? That sounds like a selfish luxury I don’t have time for!”
WRONG. Downtime isn’t a luxury, it’s imperative.
Taking a moment to press the pause button allows you to process. Think of the last book you read, or the last crazy thing you watched on Netflix. You most likely set the book aside at some point, or pressed pause to catch up. In these instances, we allow ourselves the space and time to collect our thoughts, emotions, take a bathroom break, and then continue. So, why then, do we not use this throughout our daily schedules?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 8.5 hours a day. That doesn’t leave much time for family life, errands, or self-care. But when under constant stress, the body has less time to use the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls a slew of bodily functions when at rest: digestion, hormone production, et cetera. The constant stress of a hectic schedule can also lead to an increased likelihood of mental illness, such as PTSD and Anxiety disorders. All of this can be alleviated to some degree if one remembers to pause.
Pausing can mean different things to each of us. For me, it means a massage every two weeks. It means laying in my hammock outside while my dog runs around the yard. It means taking a walk around the block on my lunch break. For you, it could mean making time for a pedicure on the weekend. It could even be as simple as waking up before the kids and drinking your coffee in sweet, sweet silence. I would argue that the simpler the pause, the better. Sitting in silence with your eyes closed (better known as meditation) is one of the most fruitful pauses you can take, and it takes so little effort. I would argue that for a pause to be effective it should:
Not take significant action on your part-- vacations are WORK!
Be something that solely benefits you
Is the only thing you do during that time (no multitasking allowed!)
What might pausing look like in your life? I highly encourage you to look closely at your average day and find times or spaces in which you can make a pause. Schedule it into your calendar if you have to. Allow yourself the time to pause and do something that is relaxing, de-stressing, and most importantly-- not important!