The Power of Pause
This COVID-19 crisis has radically changed our lives. We had no idea our ‘world’ would be confined to our homes! It is also is a powerful reminder of how important freedom is – and how much we need human connection! It is also an opportunity to accept the power of pause; to do some inner research; search for new insights and perspectives and to focus on BEING human and taking time to breathe which is our life.
Remember also, you are never alone. What is DIFFERENT here is that everyone is impacted! Your mum, neighbour, boss and friends as well as your counterparts around the world are all going through something similar. And although it is a common experience, it will also be a very personal experience.
However, I think it is important to remember:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” Viktor E. Frankl
This is the challenge each of us must rise to! Have you found your way to emerge, yes different, but why not better?
Here Are 9 Things You Can Practise to Make Your Life Better NOW and as we re-emerge:
1) Accept what is and Be in the moment:
We often spend too much of our energy wishing things were different or resisting what is. And even though you may not want how life is, it is happening and in acceptance we immediately put ourselves in a position of control. Also, In THIS moment you are OK. You are safe. Take one day at a time. One hour or even one breath at a time if you need to.
This tip is about accepting what is and being super-present, not thinking ahead or remembering the past, but practising BEING. You will gain very little by fast forwarding and worrying about another winter lockdown, except rob yourself of the now!
This is a PRACTICE – meaning you will have to do it over and over again – bringing yourself back to the NOW. Over time it gets easier, and it’s a great skill to have, anytime in life.
So, when you notice you’re worrying, feeling twitchy and want to pick up your device and find out what the “latest” thing to be worried and concerned about, say to yourself, “It’s OK. In this moment, I am safe. In this moment I am OK.” You can also add or say, “In this moment, my partner/children/husband/family/friends are safe.”
2) Create Healthy, Supportive Routines
When we feel powerless or helpless (as so many of us do these days), one EXTREMELY easy thing to do is to create a routine or schedule.
While we’re all at home working, it’s easy to lose our sense of time. Days are blending into each other. A routine gives us an anchor and greater sense of control over our lives and a sense of normality. The best advice is to have a morning and bedtime routine and make sure there is time for rest and recovery in whatever you do
Your morning routine sets you up for success:
• the pomodoro technique as a way to achieve your objective and take care of your wellbeing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique
Be sure to include food preparation, social time, exercise and outdoor time and some learning or creativity so you get some benefit from this challenging time.
It’s also important to recognise weekends because it’s too easy for weeks to blur together. So, make a looser schedule for your weekends. For example, you could include:
• Sleeping in/later bedtime
• Movie night with popcorn
• A virtual happy hour with friends or colleagues
• A larger project, perhaps some art, craft, gardening or home redecoration.
So, create a routine for a sense of control and mastery over your environment and life circumstances. Reclaim what power you can over your own life, because with all this uncertainty it’s important for you, for us all to have predictability.
3) Build Your Physical Strength, Fitness Levels or Flexibility!
Building your physical strength is powerful and health-boosting! Not only is physical strength and flexibility life-affirming and good for our health but feeling more physically powerful actually helps us feel more empowered and less helpless in life too!
So, add some physical activity into your schedule – as little as 15 minutes daily. Soon you’ll be fitter or even be able to do 10 (or 100!) press-ups!
There are many options to boost your physical strength and health.
• Take up a yoga practice – excellent for strength-building, flexibility – and calm! There are lots of online options. Here is one with everything from 10 minutes for beginners to an advanced practice. Sarah Beth Yoga on YouTube has more (free) yoga videos than I can count.
• Learn do a press-up or push-up. Then see if you can get to 10 (or more – depending on where you start)!
• There are so many online fitness classes on YouTube – for beginners, experts – with equipment and also with no equipment whatsoever. REMEMBER: BEing stronger = FEELING stronger and more in control! And building your PHYSICAL strength or fitness = REDUCED feelings of helplessness!
4) Learn with Non-Fiction Books:
Educate yourself with non-fiction books. There is so much to be gained – like self-confidence, negotiation skills, health (sleep, nutrition), how to have difficult conversations and much more.
What keeps you up at night? There’s probably a book about that! What do you wish you were better at? There’s probably a book about that too!
Here are some book ideas to get you thinking:
• Be more productive or creative with “The Now Habit” by Neil Fiore or “A Whack on the Side of the Head (How You Can Be More Creative)” by Roger Von Oech and “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink.
• Think (or rethink?) how you live with books like “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan (also available in a young reader’s version), “Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures” by Carlo Petrini,
• Get personally inspired with “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts” and “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, or “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl.
• Up-skill yourself with “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen.
• Learn about the human mind with “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell or “The Whole Brain Child” by Daniel J. Siegel MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD.
• Get healthier with “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker PhD.
• Be more confident and discover your strengths with “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman” or “Now, Discover Your Strengths (How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage)” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.
• Finally, read a memoir! Choose someone you admire, get inspired and learn how other people think – and live their lives.
Reading one book will expand your mind, reading several of these books is going to make you more interesting, help you learn new skills – and maybe even open up paths you hadn’t even dreamt of!
5) Explore your Life Vision:
Rather than watching endless news streams and mindless TV, you can choose to focus on a bigger picture – your future. What do you want from the rest of your life? What would you be disappointed you did NOT do? Where do you envision yourself in 10 years?
Having a clear vision of how you want your life to be is a powerful motivator. A vision helps us work towards our goals, take action and make change. Soon, we’ll all be super-busy again – and a vision might be just what you need stay focused!
Here are 5 questions to ponder or journal around to go deeper:
• What do you desire or yearn for in your life?
• How do you want to feel?
• What do you really, really want to be different in your life?
• What would have happened in 3 years time such that your life is spectacular, and you feel magnificent about yourself?
• What’s your dream for this lifetime? Imagine you’re 90 years old and looking back over your life; what did you do that made you proud and happy?
TIP: Remember to think possibility not probability! Don’t limit yourself and your ideas because you don’t believe something is likely. Instead believe it’s possible – and even if you don’t get all the way there, you may get close – or even find something better along the way!
And if you’d like some help with creating a vision for your life, I offer Life Visioning Sessions. Just email me [email protected] me here to set this up.
6) Start a Journal!
If you’ve always wanted to journal, now is a good time to start. More than just keeping a record of your day, a journal can help you explore and sift through your feelings and experiences and learn from them. It’s a great way to get to know you.
It’s great to choose a beautiful notebook, but the most important thing is to just get started. Here are some prompts to get started with:
• Today I am feeling _________. I think this is because __________.
• One big thing I have learned about myself during this is _________.
• I remember the last time I was stuck in the house _________.
• One thing that’s surprised me recently is _________.
• What matters most to me in life is _________.
• Describe your ideal day _________.
“A journal is expressive by nature and it contains feelings, emotions, problems, ponderings and it is more reflective on the meaning of life being lived.” Lynda Monk
7) Be Kind! To yourself and others
Kindness and compassion are one of the most powerful tools any of us have in our toolbox right now. Many of us fear that you or a loved one might actually catch the COVID virus! So, of course we’re going to feel unpleasant and weird.
• Use kindness to comfort yourself when afraid or feeling anxious or fidgety. Be gentle. Imagine you’re soothing a friend, small child or animal who is afraid – what would you say to them? Then say that to yourself!
• Use kindness to give yourself – and others – the benefit or the doubt. Instead of getting upset when you see other people behaving badly, remember that we all do silly things when we’re scared.
• Imagine you have a kind, wise self. A part of you that is unflappable, intelligent and unconditionally loves ALL of you. Now, when you need it, imagine that kind, wise self is with you, supporting you, maybe giving you a hug – and saying exactly what you need to hear (not just the sugary stuff, but also the tough love and common sense).
8) Live Your Values
When we know your values, we understand what motivates and drives us. When we build our lives around our values, we create a life that is meaningful. Finally, when we align our actions with our values – we’re being truly authentic. It’s a very satisfying and fulfilling way to live.
And living your values could be the single most important thing any of us can do right now.
Here’s an exercise you can do:
• List your values on a piece of paper or in your journal.
• Give each value a score ___ / 10 as to how well you are living that value in your life now (where 0 is not at all and 10 is full-out).
• For the scores that are 8 or more – great!
• For the scores that are 7 or less out of 10, ask yourself, “How could I express this value more in my life right now?” “What could I do differently or approach differently, so that I feel good about how I live this value in my life?”
For example: You have a value of creativity, but you’re only managing to ‘go through the motions’ right now and your score is 4/10. Ask yourself how you could be more creative during this time – whether it’s cooking, gardening, sewing, art or writing or even watching a documentary about someone creative you admire…
If you don’t know your values, now is a great time to learn. I offer a Values Kickstart Session or Values Review Session here. Just get in touch [email protected] to set this up.”
9) Begin a Meditation Practice
Meditation is a practice that has been proven scientifically to calm us, help us be more creative and be happier (for starters). It’s extremely beneficial.
There is a lot to learn about meditation – and it’s called a Meditation Practice for a reason. But it’s also not as hard as it sounds. You can start with as little as 5 minutes a day – and it’s good to build a routine, so you meditate at the same time every day. Get a book on “Meditation for Beginners” or go to Youtube or Google and search for “How to Meditate”. Another good place to start is “Metta” or “Loving Kindness” meditation. Again, search online and you’ll have lots of options to choose from.
It helps to have a quiet space without interruptions – which many of us don’t have at the moment. And for some people, trying to meditate when anxious can be stressful. If this is the case, listen to a relaxing guided meditation instead.
Another idea is to listen to a sleep meditation or “Body Scan Meditation” before going to sleep.
I personally love the Calm app for all of the above
By practising these rituals now it means going forward you can re-emerge feeling better and more connected to who you really want to be and living your life the way you wish to live it.
So, which of the above ideas resonated with you? The areas I am focusing on are journaling.I am finding it a great way to connect more deeply with myself, a way to get in touch what I really want without thinking how/who I SHOULD be. I am also truly benefitting from having a meditation practice which is very basic and a work in progress but it really does bring a sense of control and grounds me in the moment.
Believe you have the skills and power to tackle this situation and you will! Choose to make the best of a difficult situation and no matter what – you’ll find a way.
This current and strange situation is ending and will end. And when it does, you’ll be glad you made the effort!
I’m an inner beauty coach. I work with women who are feeling disconnected, stuck or have lost their sparkle to fall back in love with themselves and life to become a happier, healthier more empowered version of themselves, inside and out. I help you connect and build your inner confidence, courage, strength and compassion to live life your way, create a new path forward and let the real you shine through. If you’d like to learn more about how I might be able to support you, pop over to my website, https://www.inshineout.com and book in for a complimentary consult.