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The Pause Button

Creating a simple pause in a busy day

One of my top wellbeing tips is what I call the pause button. Since I started talking about the pause button I’ve had lots of questions about it. So here’s everything you ever wanted to know about the pause button.

What is the pause button?
The pause button is a simple technique which helps to create space in your busy day and gives your mind a well-needed break from the constant inner chatter that can often lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.

How do I use the pause button?
Find a spare button (not from your best shirt!) and then leave it where you will see or feel it regularly. For example, you could put it next to the television or fridge, on a bathroom shelf, taped to a cupboard, or in a pocket (if you put your hands in your pocket regularly). Then, whenever you see or feel the button, take a pause. Notice your feet on the ground (put them there if they’re not already!) and get a sense of your body and the space surrounding your body. Then follow your breath as it moves in and out of your body.

If you don’t have much time, practising this for just half a dozen breaths in and out can be helpful. If you have more time or if you’re feeling particularly stressed, try following for a few more breaths. As far as you can, try to give it your full attention. This is your time for taking care of you. When you’re ready, move at a gentle pace into the rest of your day.

Can I use the pause button at work?
Absolutely! In fact, it’s a great way of reminding you to pause between all the tasks you do during a typical day. You could leave your pause button in your desk drawer, next to your phone or in your locker. And if your work colleagues like the idea of the pause button, you could even leave one for everybody to see, such as on a notice board or next to the coffee machine.

How does it help?
We all spend so much time rushing from one thing to another that we barely have time to take a breath. The pause button enables you to create a little bit of space in the middle of a busy day, just for you. And in turning your attention to the breath for this short period of time, unhelpful negative thoughts can’t get a hold. While you’re focused on the breath, you’re no longer ruminating on the past, worrying about the future or getting caught up in your mind’s negative ‘storytelling’. It’s a very helpful technique to add to your stress management ‘tool kit’.

© Michelle Drapeau, 2020

Photo by Alicja on Pixabay