Pause and Be Days

Thriving Through 'Pause and Be Days'

For people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD), the unending quest for self-improvement, the relentless pursuit of healing, and the expectation to maintain unwavering ‘strength’ can become an overwhelming burden. The pressure to grow, heal, and conquer inner demons can weigh heavily on our shoulders. However, envision a scenario where, by simply doing the bare minimum, you could exceed your own expectations. Welcome to the world of ‘Pause and Be Days.’

Understanding the Essence of ‘Pause and Be Days’

A ‘Pause and Be Day’ signifies a conscious choice to grant yourself permission to do nothing beyond the absolute minimum – to simply just ‘be’ and exist. It’s about carving out a tranquil space for yourself, with no pressure to have a ‘self-care’ day, or achieve anything. On this day, there’s no expectation to strive for progress or conquer emotional mountains. It’s a day dedicated solely to finding solace in life’s simplicity – doing just enough to get by.

On this day, there’s no need to impose strict limits like saying, “I’ll cut down on screen time for my well-being” or “I’ll eat only nutritious food to fuel my body.” If you feel like scrolling through TikTok for hours, go right ahead! If your heart desires a day of indulging in junk food, that’s entirely up to you! It’s a day dedicated to comfort and self-compassion, so feel free to be a bit more flexible with your usual routines. However, do keep in mind that it’s essential to avoid any activities that might harm your health (in other words, we don’t recommend excessive alcohol consumption or things that will hinder your overall journey forwards). This day is all about pausing, not taking steps backward, so it’s a tool to use in moderation too.

This is not an excuse to stop. This is not a reason to ‘give up trying’. This is an opportunity to pause, momentarily, to regain your balance and get ready for the next steps forward. Use ‘Pause and Be Days’ sparingly. Reserve your ‘Pause and Be Days’ for those moments when you truly need them.

The Pivotal Role of the Nervous System in Our Well-Being

In our modern world, we are persistently inundated with messages that celebrate pushing our limits and commend ceaseless busyness. Nevertheless, our nervous system operates on a different wavelength – one that priorities balance and well-being.

Our nervous system plays a pivotal role in how we respond to life’s demands, consisting of two primary branches: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.

  • The Sympathetic Nervous System: This branch is responsible for our fight-or-flight responses. When activated, it readies our bodies to confront or escape perceived threats. It triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol, elevates heart rate, and tenses muscles. While this response is crucial in genuine emergency situations, it becomes detrimental when continuously triggered.
  • The Parasympathetic Nervous System: In contrast, the parasympathetic nervous system oversees the rest-and-digest functions of our body. It fosters relaxation, recovery, and rejuvenation. When engaged, it reduces stress hormone levels, slows the heart rate, and relaxes muscle tension. It is during these moments of rest and relaxation that our bodies heal and regenerate.

Balancing Act

These two branches of our nervous system work in unison to maintain balance and safeguard our overall well-being. They continuously scan our environment for signals of safety and danger, orchestrating our responses accordingly. For people with PTSD or C-PTSD, they are trapped in trauma responses – fight, flight, freeze, fawn, or flop. Persisting to ‘push through’ ultimately leads to a point where there’s no more ‘push’ to give. This isn’t due to a lack of desire to heal but is rather a result of exhaustion. The outcome is an overloaded nervous system, resulting in elevated stress hormone levels, increased heart rate, muscle tension, impaired cognitive function, weakened immune function, and various other health issues.

Understanding the Significance of ‘Pause and Be Days’

Research consistently demonstrates that relentless pursuit, especially in the context of self-improvement, can lead to emotional exhaustion, heightened stress levels, and a reduced sense of well-being. It’s akin to driving a car without ever stopping for fuel – inevitably, you will run out of petrol.

Embracing a ‘Pause and Be Day’ isn’t a mere indulgence; it’s a vital necessity. It involves a conscious choice to heed our nervous system’s call for respite and to allow the parasympathetic nervous system to take the reins. On this day, we grant ourselves the liberty to step away from the relentless pursuit of progress and instead offer ourselves the gift of rest and reflection, and create space for our bodies and minds to rejuvenate and regain balance.

It is a deliberate act of self-care grounded in the understanding that genuine growth often arises from moments of stillness and self-compassion.

The Science Supporting It

Several studies underscore the importance of taking breaks and the value of letting your mind wander. Even what may appear as ‘doing nothing’ can be incredibly productive. It fosters creativity, enhances problem-solving abilities, and bolsters overall cognitive function. Moreover, downtime and relaxation decrease the production of stress hormones like cortisol, resulting in reduced anxiety levels and an improved mood.

Incorporating ‘Pause and Be Days’ into your routine is not synonymous with stagnation; rather, it is nurturing your growth. These days offer the mental clarity and emotional equilibrium essential for sustaining long-term healing. They serve as a safeguard against burnout and a wellspring of resilience in the face of life’s trials.

Designing Your ‘Pause and Be Day’

Crafting your ‘Pause and Be Day’ experience is both simple and profound. Here is how you can embark on your journey:

  • Choose Your Day: It’s beneficial to pre-select your day in advance. This reduces the chances of mistakenly turning a day when you’re simply low on energy into a ‘Pause and Be Day,’ which might leave you feeling guilty for not using it ‘correctly.’ By planning ahead, you provide yourself with clear guidance, and you can also inform those around you not to expect much (if anything!) from you on that particular day.

  • Set Clear Boundaries: Determine what the ‘bare minimum’ means to you – it could be as basic as brushing your teeth and having a meal. Keep in mind that this will vary from person to person, and individual circumstances differ, so tailor it to your needs. If you have children or others who depend on you, your bare minimum will naturally include taking care of them, and that’s perfectly fine – it’s not that you’ll get less out of the day than others; it’s about taking a break from your ‘usual’ daily routine, which can be a positive change.

  • Trust Your Instincts: Pay attention to your intuition on this day – you’ll sense whether something feels right or wrong. If you initially decided that the bare minimum for the day was lounging on your sofa and watching TV but then find yourself inclined to take a walk, follow your heart to discern whether it’s your usual tendencies pushing you to do something ‘productive’ or if, in reality, your heart desires that walk. This approach also helps you become more attuned to your body and mind.

Just remember, a ‘Pause and Be Day’ isn’t synonymous with doing nothing; rather, it can actually be a huge step forward. It’s a day dedicated to recharging. Embrace the potential of a ‘Pause and Be Day’ – it may very well unlock remarkable growth and resilience.

Sources

“The Importance of Taking Breaks”

Source: Harvard Business Review

Link: Read Here

“Why Doing Nothing Can Be the Key to Happiness”

Source: BBC

Link: Read Here

“The Science of Taking Breaks at Work”

Source: American Psychological Association

Link: Read Here

“The Power of Mindful Reflection”

Source: Psychology Today

Link: Read Here

“The Benefits of a Mindful Pause”

Source: Greater Good Magazine (UC Berkeley)

Link: Read Here

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