This week I keep being reminded of the importance of taking breaks to recharge.
I started my week discussing this with a client on Monday who's feeling overstretched, and realised it's also something I've been missing myself lately.
We got a new puppy 3 weeks ago, and whilst I love her to pieces she's very demanding of attention - when she's awake she needs watching constantly, and when she's napping I'm focusing on getting my work done before she wakes up again! This means at the moment there's very little "me time" and I'm someone who needs a lot of "me time", I need time in my day to process and reflect, and I'm really noticing the absence of this in my stress levels and overall mood.
I've also become aware that during these periods of higher stress, I spend a lot more time with my phone in my hand. In those brief moments between activities, when I could be choosing to take a few minutes to myself to just relax and breathe and be present, I'm instead looking for small activities to fill those moments and boost my sense of productivity, I'll check social media or quickly fire off an email. This constant connection to technology and activity-seeking, simply compounds the problem, leading me to feel more stressed.
So, having noticed these habits creeping back in, I've now reminded myself of the importance of taking a couple of brief pauses during each day to help me slow down, stay present and allow me to recharge mentally. For me at the moment tagging these on to existing activities is the easiest way to achieve this, whether it's staying behind after a meeting for an extra 5-10 minutes to just sit quietly in a peaceful location by myself, or pausing on the walk back to the car to sit in the sunshine on a bench and people watch. Or maybe it's taking the first 10 minutes of Reds' (the dog!) nap time, to make a cup of tea and sit in the garden with it quietly, before then heading into the office to start work before she wakes up again! And resisting the urge to distract myself by checking my phone.
When we have an increase in demands on our time, it's natural that our stress levels will rise slightly as we adapt to the new level of activity. Whilst it may feel highly counter-intuitive, it's really important to remind ourselves that we deserve to be kind to ourselves during this adjustment period. It's ok to take 5 minutes to yourself, in fact taking these 5-15 minutes just for you, will help you feel calmer, adjust quicker and perform better throughout the rest of your day. So if you're struggling to commit to it for the personal rewards, try looking at it as an essential business activity that will pay dividends in your productivity over the coming days and weeks.
Happy pausing :)