Do you sometimes feel like life gets busier and busier, particularly in the lead up to Christmas? Or feel like it is very difficult to find some time for yourself? In this month’s article, we find some time to pause, with our five favourite five-minute pause-button activities.
What is a pause?
A pause is a short period in which something, such as a sound or an activity, is stopped before starting again. If you think about a pause-button on a music system or Youtube video, it gives you the option to stop. We like thinking about ways for you to push this pause-button in your own life.
Why not take a pause now? Simply stop reading this article for a moment and connect to the environment around you. Notice the sounds, sights, smells and sensations. Really focus on what is around you right now…
Welcome back. How do you feel? Everyday pauses provide valuable opportunities to notice how we feel, take stock, breathe, be more mindful, and change our perspective, rest our eyes and so much more.
Benefits of pausing
There are many benefits to taking time to pause throughout the day. If you work at a desk, or make repetitive movements such as typing, taking micro-pauses helps to reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury and relax the hands and shoulders. It is also beneficial for the eyes to regularly rest and look around. Often taking a short pause from working on a problem can help us come back with different solutions or outcomes.
There is a well-known quote attributed to Viktor E. Frankl (author and holocaust survivor) that says “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”. In some situations in life, we might feel our response is reactionary, and we end up having the same arguments or getting angry at the same things. However, taking a pause can help us to notice when we are getting annoyed at something, and then we can choose to respond differently.
We have chosen to share these five-minute pause-button activities now, as they are great ways of having a little “me time” in the lead up to Christmas. So next time you are getting annoyed about the kids arguing about what to watch on TV, or feeling stressed about deciding what to do for Christmas, try one of these simple five-minute pauses:
Five pauses to do at home
1. Dance along to your favourite song
Most pop songs are around three minutes long, so this exercise takes less than five minutes. Stop what you are doing. Choose a favourite upbeat song, put it on and dance and sing like nobody is watching. You can use any object as a microphone as you sing along!
Benefits: Dancing has a myriad of benefits, for example improving flexibility, strength, coordination. Even just dancing for a few minutes will help get your body moving and may help your emotional wellbeing. Why not give it a try now and pop a comment in the box below! I’d love to hear what songs you have been dancing too.
2. Five-minute breath focus
Next time you feel yourself getting annoyed or stressed about something, like trying to find the ‘perfect’ present, take five minutes to connect to your breath. You can do this sitting or lying down. Maybe take your hands to your belly, close your eyes and begin to notice your breath. Do this without changing your breath. You can notice when you can feel the breath, the sound of the breath, the different sensations between the inhale and the exhale. If you can notice the breath more in one nostril or the other.
Once you have watched the breath for about four minutes, open your eyes and then spend a minute just noticing if you feel any different after this little pause.
Benefits: There are numerous benefits of deep breathing including lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system and helping to alleviate depression. You can read more about how breath can help alleviate depression in our earlier article.
3. Drink a herbal tea mindfully
Another great way to take some time to pause is by drinking a cup of herbal tea mindfully. Select your favourite herbal tea, choose a lovely mug to serve it in. Then take a comfy seat and just focus on drinking your tea. For ideas on ways to practice mindful eating check out our article on the effects of stress on your digestive system and how to relax it
The run-up to Christmas can lead to overconsumption and potentially dehydration, and we might rely on caffeine to keep our energy up. Herbal teas are mostly caffeine-free, which has numerous benefits. You can read more about the benefits of reducing or giving up caffeine in our article on saying no to caffeine.
4. Practice Loving-kindness
Another wonderful practice you can do too, especially if you are feeling a bit low, is to practice loving-kindness (or Metta) to yourself. This is a very simple way to take time to pause, which can be done in just a few minutes.
Start by sitting down in a comfy position. You can choose some words like ‘May I be free of stress, content and peaceful’, ‘May I be kind and relaxed this Christmas’ or other words that suit you. You can also change the words as you go. For more information on how to practice loving-kindness and the meditation practice of Metta see here.
5. Do five-minute neck and jaw exercises
If you find yourself busy rushing around trying to organise presents or getting the house ready for Christmas, you might find that tension builds in your neck or jaw area. A great way to relieve this is to spend a few minutes doing some neck and jaw exercises. For a few simple neck and jaw exercises why not check out our article on how to find and use your voice in yoga. You may also find the sound practice in this article a great way of releasing tension.
Hopefully, the above suggestions have shown that you do not need hours to take time to pause. In busy periods even taking short pauses can be very beneficial for your body, mind and spirit.
Take time to pause on a health and wellbeing retreat
If you would like to take some more time out to pause, consider booking a retreat here at La Crisalida Retreats. This year for the first time we are open over the whole Christmas period. With average high temperatures of 17 degrees during December and six hours of sunshine per day, there are plenty of opportunities to get out into nature and take your five-minute pause outside. We are open all year round so come, relax and rejuvenate.