The new year always sneaks up on us – with the busyness of the holidays and the preparations throughout December, we often don’t have time to think about the new year until it’s upon is.
Some people like to create new year’s resolutions, others like to set intentions. Regardless of what you want to call it, we often use the new year as a reason to make an intentional change in our lives. It may be physical, i.e. to lose weight, or it may be spiritual or emotional, i.e. to live without unnecessary fear. Whatever it is, it’s an intention to change and the new year gives us an opportunity to create a new habit.
We often forget to give ourselves permission to Pause
As we go through the craziness of the holidays, we often come out on the other end a little burnt out, a little tired, and ready for a week-long nap. How about a holiday from that holiday?
For many years this has been my experience, and I can bet you I’m not alone on this one. Often we forget to give ourselves permission to pause, and because of this, we crash after the festivities are over.
Then we are convinced to create new year’s resolutions. The allure of losing 10 pounds, or of sticking to a gym membership/workout routine is appealing. While these can be health-promoting resolutions, they can also create new stresses. Many of us who have attempted to stick to such resolutions end up calling it quits or falling off the bandwagon a few days, weeks or a couple of months in. The problem is we’re not giving ourselves permission to pause.
This year, give yourself Permission to Pause
What is Permission to Pause?
It’s exactly what it sounds like.
Most of us go through life jumping from one thing into the next. This is just the way life is, and it’s the way society is. We believe it’s acceptable to be busy all the time and spread thin across all of our daily activities. We work hard, and forget to play. We take care of others, and forget to take care of ourselves. For some, they experience chronic stress that is dulled by stimulants, like caffeine or pick-me-ups, like sugar and alcohol. For others, they simply burn out and have a hard time getting through the day.
But we all have something in common – something that we’ve forgotten to embrace as a society – and that is giving ourselves permission to pause.
Giving yourself permission to pause is an extremely important self-care activity. We should be giving ourselves permission to pause on a daily basis for at least a few minutes in order to rest and reset our brains. Pausing is a powerful tool to manage stress and gives us the opportunity to practice mindfulness. Instead of rushing through our lives, we should encourage ourselves to take a step back on a daily basis and just be present in our lives. We should clear our minds and let our thoughts and emotions come to us, so we can better understand our emotional and physical state.
Why we need to pause now more than ever
Women are especially bad at giving themselves permission to take a moment of alone time. We are often raised to give to others, without considering our needs. We put ourselves on the backburner and prioritize our loved ones. That’s why it’s important to allow yourself to pause – not to simply do it, but give yourself permission without feeling the guilt.
If we don’t take time for ourselves, we risk burning out. We run on empty and this can affect our energy levels, mood, passion and drive. We become bogged down with details and become less efficient and productive. Emotionally we can feel angry, frustrated, defeated and stuck. Taking a few moments to refuel the gas tank is key to overcoming or avoiding these situations.
How do I give myself “Permission to Pause”
Giving yourself permission to pause is challenging, especially for those of us who aren’t used to it. However, starting the new year with the intention for more self-care, or the intention to “pause” for at least 10 minutes a day, is a powerful way to begin building the habit.
Everyone’s “pause” may look different. Some might use this time to meditate, do a little yoga flow or write in a journal. Here are five easy ways you can give yourself permission to pause today:
Take ten minutes out of your day, whenever is convenient, and pop a 10-minute guided meditation on. If you’d prefer an unguided meditation, this is a favourite: sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, or lie on your back. Put your hands on your belly and practice deep belly breathing. With every inhale the belly expands, and with every exhale it contracts towards your spine. Simply focus on how your breathing feels with each inhale and exhale. If you’d like, you can add a mantra: each inhale is “I am”, and each exhale is a word that resonates, i.e. “peace” or “love”.
Walk in nature or around the block
Take ten minutes and go for a walk. Simply moving and getting out of your regular environment can awaken the senses and give your mind some clarity. Take time to appreciate and notice your surroundings and really be present.
Take time to journal
Having a journal is so practical, especially when it comes to releasing emotions. I find that writing down my thoughts and feelings releases some of the tension inside of me. However you can use your journal in whichever way you prefer. You can focus on listing what you’re grateful for, or you can use it to brain-dump the thoughts swirling around in your head keeping you distracted. Others use their journal to free-write. Just put your pen to paper and write whatever comes to your mind – no filter. This can be incredibly therapeutic.
Quick yoga flow
Do a quick yoga flow with 20 sun salutations, or throw yourself into child’s pose for 10 minutes. Whatever feels right for you in that moment. Focus on your breath – breathe deeply into your belly and be fully present in the experience.
If you enjoy drawing or painting, take time to do this. If you play an instrument or enjoy singing, make it a priority. Do something that allows you to express yourself and your creativity. So many of us suppress our creativity for practicality or out of fear of judgement. During creative expression we’re able to connect with what makes us truly happy and can learn more about ourselves. Let your artistic side fly – even if you don’t consider yourself an “artist”!
Permission is essential for success
Giving yourself permission to embrace pausing and self-care is critical. So many women would look at this list and feel selfish for embracing this alone time. Pausing is not selfish – in fact, it’s the exact opposite. Self-care activities allow us to replenish our energy stores. They improve our mood and make us more peaceful. This has a powerful impact on the way we live our lives, how we treat others and the amount of energy we have to spend time with the ones we love.
Self-care is not selfish; it’s self-respecting and completely necessary to be the best version of ourselves. We must honour our needs, recognizing that we thrive when we give ourselves a little love and allow ourselves to pause.
This time should be non-negotiable, and we should never feel guilty for embracing it. It’s a basic human need that so many of us overlook, but I say let’s make this new year one to remember. Let’s begin to embrace self-care. Let’s give ourselves permission to pause.