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Make Refreshing Pauses

By Ellen Moore

Sometimes it's not possible to take as many vacations or breaks as you'd like. You know it helps to "get away" and incorporate some peace and quiet into your life, but it's often difficult to take as much time as you need. One way to work and live with less stress is to make deliberate use of small periods of time to create your own little "decompression chamber."

Set Aside Time to be Yourself
See where you can find numerous opportunities for small "hidden" breaks. Even at work or while accomplishing a specific task, you can often slow yourself down, look up, take a deep breath, enjoy your sip of coffee or tea, drink a glass of water, or even just refocus your eyes on something else in your environment. Allow yourself to think of something pleasant: a happy memory, an imagined scene, a tiny daydream, an amusing thought.

Arrive Early
You know what it feels like to arrive at an appointment rushed and out of breath and not quite ready to deal with your intended purpose. Unpack your schedule just a little in order to allow extra time for unexpected obstacles. A few silent moments to yourself can give you a lift and help you remember your intention before you begin your mission. You may spend those minutes on a bench, in your car, in a public rest room, or at the doorway of your destination. Arriving early allows you to be your most calm and focused self.

Take Time to be Grateful
During these small pauses, try making a habit of remembering the people and large and small things in your life that deserve your appreciation and gratitude. Think of what others have done for you, and the blessings in your life. If you have clean air to breathe, the ability to slow yourself down for a moment, clean water to drink, and an occasional view of the sky, you have more than much of the world's population. Let your heart be filled with thankfulness, even for the workers who make your clothing, for the farmers who produce the food you eat, for the far-away dock workers who unload your tea and coffee from the ship. All this is for you.

Use Cues to Remind Yourself
Think of actions you take every day: Eating a meal, putting a key in a lock, walking through a doorway, looking at a watch or a clock, taking a shower. All these can become automatic reminders to help you to remember to take a moment to center yourself, see a "larger picture," and be calm and grateful for the small, unseen, every-day miracles that surround you.

Such pauses can make your day brighter, more meaningful, and less stressful. Use the time for the renewal of your inner self, and you may find yourself less pressured and more refreshed than ever before.

Juicy Questions:
How do you feel when you rush through a day without pauses?
What pressures encourage you to work "harder, harder" and "faster, faster?"
What would your gratitude list include?
What gives your life meaning?
Who are the people for whom you are the most grateful?
What beautiful things do you surround yourself with?
How do you feel when you pause before a meeting or task?

Copyright © 2006 Ellen Moore. All rights reserved.
Ellen Moore, Ph.D., specializes in the art and science of happiness. Many tools are available for changing your life "for good." Some of the most accessible are Writing, Reading, Retreats, Group Support, and Mentoring/Coaching. Feel free to contact Ellen for further information and register for her free newsletter, "New Life Story Seeds" at New Life Stories.
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