Pause. The word implies that you have to slow down. Do you have time to slow down? Do you have time to stop moving? I know it feels like I don’t have that time to spare!
There are some times, some seasons in life where it feels like if you slow down, you will get run over by everything. It’s as if you are running as hard as you can but there is this train barreling down the tracks behind you and if you stop for a moment, you will get run over. Oh, the train isn’t a real, physical train, but it is all the things that you are trying to accomplish in a day. It is that feeling that you have to be Supermom, that you have to be everything to everyone. That you have to keep your home perfectly clean and organized, that you have to cook a made-from-scratch meal every day for dinner, that you have to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, that you have to be there to listen to everyone whenever they need. That you need to do all these things and more.
But where are these expectations coming from? Are they coming from other people? Are they coming from inside yourself? Are you expecting yourself to be and feel more than you should?
There are other times, different seasons where it feels like the train is leaving without you. Do you remember that scene near the end of ‘The Greatest Showman’ where PT Barnum is running to catch the train? He is running as fast as he can, reaching, stretching, and just manages to grab the rail of the platform of the last car and hoist himself on board before it leaves without him. Let’s be honest: sometimes it feels like you catch the train and other times it feels like you miss it entirely!
Events in your life can take off without you: commitments, programs to attend, practices and rehearsals, even just trying to keep up with daily life while scaling and conquering the laundry pile that has turned into a mini Mount Everest and finding the sink that got buried somewhere underneath all those dirty dishes and let’s not even get started on the kids rooms that look like a bomb went off in there!
So what do you do?
What do you do in those moments when you know you need time for you, but you feel like if you slow down for an instant you will either miss the train or get run over by the train?
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
How do you even begin to regain that perspective that seems completely illusive and totally lost?
The Mindset Shift
When you hear the words “Take time for yourself” or “self-care,” do you automatically think of a huge block of time? Do you think “I don’t have time to take time for myself! Are you kidding me? I’m doing good if I can manage to go to the bathroom without someone banging on the door!”
But what if taking time for you didn’t have to come in huge time blocks? Oh, don’t get me wrong: Taking that time to indulge in a bubble bath or sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy your book for an hour or two or sit and watch the movie you’ve been looking forward to seeing is a great thing! Taking time to go for a long walk or sit and watch the sunrise or sunset with no agenda other than to relax and enjoy is incredible.
You need those times! You need those larger blocks of time that you can relax, unwind, and refresh your soul. You need that space to actually begin to decompress from all of the pressures and urgencies of life. But in reality, those big blocks of time are hard to come by, aren’t they? They start to feel like precious treasures that we guard with our lives. Big blocks of time are hard to find and when you do find them, many times they are very spaced out.
So what do you do in those in-between times? In those times where you need to take some time and space to breathe, but you don’t have a huge time block? In those times where you need some “me time” or you feel you might snap but you only have 4 minutes?
What do you do? What do you do in those moments when you need space to breathe amidst the chaos? How do you find that space?
What if instead of trying to find hour-long (or more) pockets in your days, you tried to find 30-90 second spaces to breathe? Sounds easier to find 30 seconds that 30 minutes, right? Sort of takes it from the realm of the impossible to the realm of the attainable…
So, when you find that 30-90 second pocket of time, what do you do with it? It’s so true that sometimes you can find a tiny window of time, then spend the entire amount of time you found wasting it trying to figure out how to use it to pause and unwind!
I’ve got you covered, my Friend! Here are a few of my favorite 30-90 second ‘deep breaths’:
#1 :: Don’t Forget to Breathe
Close your eyes (if you safely can!) and take a really slow, deep breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. Try counting to 10 or 20 as you breathe in, then count to 10 or 20 as you breathe out. There’s nothing magical in the counting. There’s no specific number that you must reach for this to work. The idea behind it is simply that when you count as you breathe, you allow your brain to relax. You stop thinking on so many other things and allow yourself just to focus on your breathing and the counting. It gives you some “white space” in your brain amidst all the noise of the world that you are bombarded with each and every moment of your waking hours – and sometimes even in your sleep!
You know the phrase “don’t forget to breathe”? Well, take this one very literally, my Friend! But take it just a tiny step further: Don’t forget to breathe…slowly and intentionally.
#2 :: Savor Your Sip
Your senses are powerful things. In particular, the sense of smell never seems to get enough credit. Do you ever wonder why you can smell something and instantly be transported in your memories to a time in your childhood? Maybe it’s the smell of a pie baking that reminds you of your grandma’s cooking or maybe it’s a cinnamon smell that transports you back to childhood Christmas memories. But why not use that sense of smell to your advantage?
Pour yourself a cup of coffee (or cocoa or tea). Entwine your fingers around the mug and breathe in the aroma before enjoying that first sip. Allow the steam from the hot liquid to bathe your face. Allow the aroma to wash over you and remind you that you can take time to enjoy the simple things. Oh, and don’t forget to actually enjoy a few sips of your drink before you take off running again!
#3 :: Look for something beautiful outside
Take a moment and look for something beautiful around you – and not just a glance! Take a moment and really look. Look for that flower hidden in the tree. Notice the berries in the bush that you never took the time to notice before. Be delighted by that bird that alights on your fence and sits there in the sunshine just begging to be admired. Observe that butterfly that flits across your path. Watch the way the sunlight dances through the leaves of the trees. Marvel at how your imagination makes shapes out of the clouds.
And don’t forget to look outside! Even if you can’t physically walk outside, peer through the window at the beauties to be found there. Butterflies, birds, clouds, sunshine, even the rain pattering on the trees – anything that makes you pause and smile…
#4 :: Look for something beautiful inside
Beautiful things are not just to be found outside. It’s so easy to get focused on what is “out there” and forget to appreciate the things that are right in front of you. Take some time to look around and find something beautiful inside.
Maybe it’s a photograph on your wall that has been there for so long that you now see it but forget to look at it. Maybe it’s a saying on your wall that you need to pause and read slowly, letting the truth of that saying sink in. Maybe it’s looking at your children or your husband and allowing your self to not see all the faults (because, believe me, we all have them – including you!) but choosing to see the good. Choosing to focus on the positives. Choosing to be thankful for the wonderful people in your life and the things that surround you.
#5 :: Listen to Something that Inspires
It is no secret that music can effect your mood. Whether you need a burst of energy, a reminder to slow down, a soundtrack to dance to, or a string quartet to wash over you, music can inspire and fuel you. It can calm and soothe you. It can excite and invigorate you.
Grab whatever is easiest to play music: your phone, your sound system, your computer, even your CD collection! Pick some music that will inspire you and crank it up! One more thing: Don’t forget to listen to the music. If you’re not careful, music can simply be more background noise. Make the choice to listen to the music you started and allow it to inspire you.
#6 :: Pamper Your Skin
Now, I know this one sounds like it could take a lot of time, but hang with me on this one for a second, okay? Sometimes as a momma, it is easy to get so busy that you completely forget about yourself. Think about it: how many days have you forgotten to wash your face in the morning? How many time do you think: I should really put on lotion or file that rough spot on my nail down before it catches on something and hurts someone or something?
So do it! Take 90 seconds and wash your face. Grab that hand lotion and put some lotion on your hands. Grab that nail file and get rid of that rough patch on your nail! It is absolutely amazing the different perspective that you have on life when you come at it with a freshly washed face!
#7 :: Gratitude can change your Attitude
Grab a pen and paper and make a list of 3 things that you’re grateful for. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day things, the tasks of life that it becomes easy to forget the most important pieces. We forget to be thankful. We forget to notice the small things. Those small things can make a huge different and have a huge impact! So, start to notice them! Look around you and make a list of 3 things that you are grateful for. If you have time and you want to keep going, go for it! But start with 3. Start small.
You can do this even if you’re not at a place where you can write things down. Maybe you’re driving around town doing errands or picking kids up from school. Maybe you’re elbow-deep in bathwater giving your little one a bath. Maybe you’re in the middle of making dinner and can’t step away for fear that the food would burn. Even if you can’t write things down, you can make a list – just make the list in your head. If you’re really brave, you can say it out loud!
To Sum It All Up
My dear Friend, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can simply keep going and everything will be alright. You need to pause and gain some space for you amidst the chaos of this world. If you simply keep going, keep pushing, and keep running at some point, your energy reserves, your patience, your resolve will run out. You need to continually be feeding your soul and creating space for you even as you take care of all those around you.
Remember, taking care of you does not need to be complicated or even time consuming! Try incorporating one or two of these methods into your day today. Try to use a couple of them tomorrow. You will be amazed at how much more spacious life will feel when you take a few seconds for you here and there.
And that train that was threatening to run you over or leave without you? Somehow when you take a few moments for you, you’re no longer on the track in front of it or behind it. In fact, it can feel like you are solidly on the train, perhaps even in the driver’s seat once again – no running needed!
- The Powerful Integration of Life and Music
- How to Overcome Perfectionism and Mom Guilt
- What To Do When You Crave Balance As You Homeschool
- Improve Your Focus with Purpose: Lessons from Sunflowers
- Refresh Your Soul by Listening to the Rain
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.