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Practice the Pause to Manage Daily Stress 

Feeling a little stressed out lately?  Feel like too often you are at the end of your energy and proverbial rope?  Life has a lot of demands for many people, especially when we are juggling multiple things; work, family, maintaining a home or apartment, and for some caring for young children or aging parents.


Add in financial stressors, demanding bosses or customers, difficult family members, and all the chaos going on in the world, and it can add up to a lot of stress.


While there are so many things we can do to manage our stress levels more effectively, often we don’t because we tell ourselves that “we don’t have time to do any stress relieving techniques!”


What if there was a way to reduce some stress that only took 2 or 3 minutes at a time or even just 60 seconds?  Would that feel more doable?


In 1 -3 minutes you can help yourself feel more calm, in control, and able to manage your stress so much more effectively.


It’s really  about awareness and breath.   The pause is about changing your environment both internally and externally so that you get a welcomed break from the roles and responsibilities throughout your day.  Just by practicing the pause.  Here’s how it works.


Set the alarm on your phone every 60 to 90 minutes.  When the alarm goes off, consider where you can go to get a one to three minute break. Once you are up and away from your desk, or your child is safely doing an activity, use that time to begin to breathe deeply in through your nose, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.  The inhale is always through your nose, and the ideal is to exhale longer than your inhale, slow and steady.


You can use your entire pause time to just deep breathe.  Another idea if you will take, say a 3 minute pause, is to do an internal body scan- body part by body part to notice areas of tension.  As you breathe in, think of that area, and as you breathe out, imagine all the tension leaving that area of your body.


You can do this organically, each time, or you can make this practice more structured if you like.

To make it more structured, use the following as a guideline.


At your first pause in addition to deep breathing, do this.


1.     Set an intention.  How do you want your day to go?  What do you hope for? What one word comes to mind how you want to feel today? Perhaps you focus on the word “Calm” or “Peaceful” as you use your 1-3 minutes to deep breathe.


Subsequent pauses might look like this:


2.     Ask a Gratitude Question – We know an attitude of gratitude goes a long way to helping our mental and emotional ( and therefore our physical) wellbeing.

3.     Awareness – Use your pause to engage with yourself to notice any sensations in your body.  Without judgement just notice any areas that seem stressed or just off. If you take at least a 2 minute pause, do a body scan.

4.     Add a grounding technique - You might try EFT tapping or bilateral tapping in addition to your deep breathing time.  These are ways of helping you calm your brain in the moment.

5.     Celebration - Pause to notice what you have done well today, whether that was keeping your cool with your boss, or setting good boundaries with a demanding person in your life.  Notice the things that you are proud of and have a little mini celebration, if only in your own head.

6.     Catch Your Self Talk - What are the thoughts or stories you have been telling yourself ? What does your inner voice sound like? More critic or more cheerleader?  Pausing to breathe and check in with that so you can hear the inner critic if she has been active, so  you can remind yourself that voice is not helpful or beneficial.



As you pause throughout the day, you can rotate through these to bring more awareness into your inner life, as well as add more calm to your day both internally and externally. 


If you can step away into a quiet safe environment even for one to three minutes many times in a day you will likely reap the benefits of feeling more calm, at ease, and you may find you feel more present with all the people you encounter in your busy stress filled day!


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