I know it's only July, but this year has been flying and it seems to be consistent across the board that people are tired. Between drinking water and minding our business, dealing with injustices and COVID, working on mental and emotional healing, being back outside, and navigating relationships we are EXHAUSTED. The challenge with this is that life is still life-ing (yes, I know it's not a real word); bills still have to be paid, work obligations still have to be met and we still need to show up for the people in our lives. The pressures of getting it all done can oftentimes lead us to experiencing feelings of guilt, regret, and unhappiness. As an elementary school counselor by day and therapist by night I am gearing up for the return of school buses, crying children, no lunch breaks, while still seeing clients after school and trying to balance my work and personal life. Just the thought of that is overwhelming, but I know that I will be able to make it happen and so can you by taking a moment to PAUSE or an interlude. According to dictionary.com, an interlude is defined as an intervening period of time and pausing with intention can help us all to create space for clear thinking and refuel ourselves in order to have the energy and ability to continue dealing with all of life's highs and lows.
Yes I know taking a moment to pause can feel like the opposite of what we should be doing, but I want to encourage you to let go of that pressure to always have to be on and give yourself permission to take a necessary moment. From countless conversations with clients, friends, and myself it is apparent that when we take down time we tend to experience guilt and thoughts like "I should be more productive" or "I could be doing _______ instead of watching TV or taking a nap". Even society pushes us to always be on by promoting quotes like "lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days" or "we all have 24 hours in a day. Your success depends on what you do with those 24 hours". Who wouldn't feel pressured to work harder, even if that requires sacrificing sleep, eating, or relationships? The problem with that way of thinking is that it's not realistic. We are human, not the energizer bunny and our minds and bodies require rest in order to continue functioning properly.
In order to ensure that we are able to continue doing all of the things that need to be done I want to share with you how to take your own interlude and pause with intention so that this journey of life doesn't feel like a constant struggle, but that you can take it in stride. Pausing with intention requires you to focus on the three P's: (release) pressure, plan, and practice.
(release) Pressure: in this step it is important for you to identify your pressure points. Consider asking yourself these questions: What pressures am I placing on myself? What pressures am I allowing to impact me from other people? What am I willing to let the air out of (for now) in order to decompress? It is at this step that we must be transparent with ourselves and shift our perspective from viewing it as giving up or moving backwards, but simply as a pause. When we're playing music and we pause a song once we press play we pick up right where we left off.
Plan: in this step it is important for you to identify high value activities or alternatives that you can engage in to help pour back into yourself. For example, binge watching TV shows for days and days will inevitably leave you feeling depleted even if you were able to catch up on your favorite show. When we are pausing with intention we need to be intentional. That means choosing healthy activities that make us happy and we can feel good about. For example, cooking a meal, going for a walk, reading a book, or even taking a nap. Let's be real naps ARE high value. I know there are a ton of people that look down on naps, but giving your body rest is necessary. When determining high value activities think about things YOU would enjoy.
Practice: here is where it can get challenging. It's easy to say what we want to do and even come up with a plan, but carrying it out is another story. This is where our thoughts come out to play and they can either be a hindrance or a helper. When you experience those defeating or questioning thoughts I want to encourage you to give yourself permission to stop. Those thoughts don't have to exist, yes thoughts are automatic, but it's up to us to decide how long they are allowed to exist. In this step you may want to identify some affirmations or words of encouragement for yourself in order to maintain your motivation to carry out this pause. Anytime those negative thoughts come up repeat your affirmations to remind yourself that you work hard, you've been through a lot and you are deserving of a moment to decompress and refocus.
In music, an interlude serves as a break between two songs and can be used as a meditative moment to give listeners a point of rest. When it comes to your life it is important to take breaks or meditative moments in order to give yourself a point of rest so that you can continue to carry out all of the things that your life requires, so remember to break with INTENTION.