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The Power of the Pause

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In today’s super-connected world, we can always feel ‘switched on’. The buzz of our phones from Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, emails, LinkedIn is endless.  In our new hybrid environment, these collide with the challenges of working from home.  Zoom and Teams competing with the doorbell, the washing machine, grabbing lunch, and shutting down at the end of the day.  We go on holiday to switch off, and disconnect, but often check our emails ‘just to see if something needs our attention.

Swiching off is essential to let our brain relax and for stress relief. Unfocusing can allow our brain time for day-dreaming, creative thinking and building the networks that ultimately may help us with complex problem solving.

For me, getting away from technology (apart from taking the odd photo), getting out in nature, hiking and allowing my brain to wander, gives me better sleep and recovery, and enables me to come back refreshed and with renewed energy.

Taking that pause can be a game changer.  Like a marathon runner having rest days, recovery is essential to keep going over the long distance.  But the pause doesn’t always have to be days.  It can literally be a few breaths, or a few seconds. There truly is power in the pause, and here are 10 ways you can find that moment of calm:


Woman graduate

1. Pause to stay motivated

When we are focused on our goals, it’s easy to go all out.  We start out with enthusiasm and energy.  ‘This time I’m going to …….’ (Insert your own goal here) and off we go.  This may continue for a few days, a week, maybe even the first month, but after a while we notice that our motivation is flagging.  Chatting with a friend recently, and they shared that they were incredibly demotivated because they had been working towards their goal for so long that they weren’t sure they’d be able to finish.  A week’s break, and they were back refreshed and with the right mindset to succeed.

2. Pause to make an important decision

So often we may feel under pressure to make a significant decision – Do I buy the house?  Do I take the job?  These are significant and can often have an impact on other people in our lives too.  Taking the time to consider all options and discuss with trusted advisors can make you feel more confident about the decision you’re making.  It can also give you time to uncover information you might have missed.


3. Pause when speaking in public

When speaking in public, we sometimes make what are known as unnecessary sounds or filler words. Those ums and ahhs that we utter when we’re thinking of the next thing to say.  Too many and it can sound as though we are lacking confidence in our convictions or in the message we’re delivering, unprepared, or lacking self-confidence.  While pausing to take a breath might feel like we have left a huge gap between words, in reality, slowing down can give the impression that are words are considered, impactful and that we are certain of what we are sharing.

4. Pause before you reply in an argument

“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.”

This thought-provoking quote has often been attributed to both Steven Covey and Viktor E. Frankl. Taking a pause in the space between action and reaction, we can claim a moment to choose how we respond.  Taking that moment to pause and consider your response, can be the difference between lashing out and saying something you may later regret, and building a bridge by asking a question or offering a verbal olive branch.

5. Pause all tech, and unwind for a while

Digital mindfulness is the new digital detox.  With so much of our lives dependent on technology, having a true digital detox may be hard.  But some time being mindful over how you are using technology can have a similar effect as digitally detoxing. Removing non-essential apps from your home screen for a few days, and only allowing a set time for essential checking can be just as beneficial as switching off completely, but without the anxiety of being totally out of touch.

Woman Breathing

6. Pause when you’re feeling overwhelmed

There’s a real urge when you feel overwhelmed to try and power through, multi-tasking on too many things at once and working later and later to catch up.  The stress builds and before you know it you can’t think straight, and your body feels tense and tight.  Emotions are heightened and your breathing is rapid and shallow. Over time, this can lead to burnout, and serious ill health. Taking a few moments when you feel overwhelmed to stop, breathe and stretch gets that much-needed oxygen to your brain and your muscles.  This slows your heartrate and can lower and stabilise your blood pressure.

7. Pause to recover and reset

As a Dragon boater and Rower, we are often told to add in a pause at the end of our stroke, to allow us to set up correctly for the next effort.  This brief moment can enable us to recover from the exertion  part of the stroke and can give us a moment to prepare for making the next stroke as good as the last.  It’s the same between reps and sets when weight lifting.  We can breathe, reset and prepare all in a second, and  that pause can make all the difference to maintaining good form.


Woman doing yoga

8) Pause when training for a race

Training for a race can be both exciting and gruelling, as we push our bodies further to build strength, speed and fitness to get us across the finish line on race day, and glory in our achievement.  Occasionally, we can become so focused on the goal that we overtrain, leading to potential injury and intense fatigue.

Our bodies can’t maintain intense effort forever, and so rest days are important to allow essential nutrients to replenish in our bodies, and our muscles to repair themselves ready for the next push. 

9) Pause to reflect

We often work towards our goals with a head-down focus on the end point, following a defined process, with clear tasks for us to tick off and ways to measure progress.  However, taking the time to pause and reflect on what is being learnt and how this could be improved, where waste could be eliminated, efficiencies made, and potential blockages to progress removed, we can have a more fulfilling journey towards success.

Test on Blackboard

10) Pause to celebrate

Celebrating the mini wins can be a huge motivator when working towards a much larger goal.  Over the long term, progress can feel like it’s slowing, and at times almost grind to a halt.  Taking a moment to write down what you have achieved since you started can help you to reignite your passion and focus.  Remembering why you started can reconnect you with your purpose, and help you to recommit to something that is important to you.

If you’re struggling to find the space in your life for a pause, or want to learn how to pause better, manage your responses, improve your public speaking by saying less or be more mindful about how you manage your tech, get in touch.  We can perfect your pause together!

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