Reduce stress build up by taking moments to POP: Pause On Purpose
Almost all of the people we talk to now respond with a sheepish grin when asked about what stress exists in their lives. A Stress Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Health Resource Network, has been held every year since 1992 in the United States. It is the norm to have continuous activity in our lives, without much attention to recovering from that amount of activity. So we accept that we each function with a unique level of stress. The challenge then is, if we accept that we have stress in our lives, do we accept that we must acknowledge the impact of that stress on the mind and body?
How often do we stop and step back from the continuous planning/assessing/predicting/acting/reacting to pause and become aware of our state of physical, emotional and cognitive being? Stress physiology tells us that our bodies and minds are naturally equipped to react to and to recover from stress. We can simply allow the body and mind to utilize its own innate systems for stress reaction and recovery; however, sometimes in our very busy lifestyles, these natural recovery systems can become overwhelmed, and our physical and psychological health suffers. Mindfulness is a practice that can be used to elicit increased awareness of impacts of stress, and therefore, increased ability to recover from and/or interrupt the stress cycle when it occurs (i.e. reducing impact).
Taking time throughout your day to POP—Pause on Purpose—is one way to interrupt the autopilot path we often find ourselves on. POP-ing brings us back to the present moment with increased awareness. Creating space for the observation of what’s going on for us throughout the day—physically, emotionally, and thought-wise—gives us increased opportunity to tap into our own innate capacity to maintain a sense of internal balance and self-regulation. Here are a few ideas to help you pause throughout your day to be consciously present:
- Identify specific times of the day when you will regularly pause and focus on the present moment.
- Set up some everyday reminders, like objects, sounds, and actions, to pause and check in on your thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
- Choose natural, consistent occurrences in daily routines that will remind you to pause on purpose.
- Experiment with a variety of objects of attention, like the breath, body, or movement, so that you find one or two that are very reliable for you to practice focusing on the present.
- Look for transition times throughout your day that provide increased opportunity to pause for a few moments.
- Invite a friend to practice Pausing on Purpose with you.
For more information on practicing mindfulness, check out Take Time To Pop, or contact our Hanover Office at (717) 632-8400 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register for one of our upcoming Mindfulness Events.