There’s a handy piece of wisdom that says if you don’t make time for your health now, you will need to make time for illness later. That’s because eventually our choices related to health and wellness eventually catch up with us.
When we think about well-being, there are lots of positive habits that come to mind. Here are just a few:
- eating a balanced diet
- getting adequate sleep
- practicing self-care
- being physically active
- regularly meditating
- drinking more water
- building social connections
I say a resounding yes to all of them.
Yes, it’s true that if we were to consistently engage in these habits, we would have a positive impact on our well-being.
That’s a big if.
The best of intentions
Most of the time we are pulled in too many directions to stay focused on anything. We are distracted by the nearest technology and other people’s priorities. Even with the best of intentions, we skip some, or maybe all, of the wellness activities that we know are good for us.
So why does that happen?
It’s likely because the essential habit of well-being is missing. The one habit that supersedes any list of wellness activities.
That’s the habit of creating pauses in your day.The essential habit of well-being is to create pauses in your day. Click To Tweet
Without the key habit of pausing we function on auto-pilot. When we are super busy with loads of commitments and too many things on our to-do lists, auto-pilot becomes a survival strategy. We focus on the next thing that needs to get done rather than paying attention to what is happening in the moment. Our actions become unconscious and reactive.
The habit of pausing allows us to create awareness. We get to check-in with our mind and body to see what’s happening. We tap into our thoughts and feelings.
And when we do that, we are more likely to make conscious and intentional choices.
Choices like sticking with any, or all, of those great habits that support our well-being.
Here’s the thing….
The habit of pausing doesn’t show up on any of those lists of things you should do to be happier and healthier. But I can guarantee, if you don’t build that habit then the chances of being successful with any of the other ones is slim.
That moment of pause allows you to course correct. We get a chance to reset our choices instead of simply merrily going down the auto-pilot path.
The habit of pausing
So, what does the habit of pausing look like?
It works in two ways.
First there are natural pauses that occur in your day – moments when there is a transition between this and that – when you are moving from one activity to another.
These days we skip right over them by rushing to the next task or filling the space with some mindless activity like checking our phones.
Tuning back into the naturally occurring pauses gives us an opportunity to check-in with ourselves and lets us bring our choices into our conscious awareness.
Secondly, we can create intentional pauses by planning when we will take a pause. We can do this by setting a reminder or using a cue such as getting into the car as a signal to stop and focus our attention.
The simple way
While there are many ways to take a pause, the simplest is to simply stop, take 3 conscious breaths, and then ask a powerful question such as:
“Given my priorities and goals, is this the best use of my time and energy?”
“What does my body really need in this moment?”
“What am I aware of right now?”
Now just because you pause and create some present moment awareness does not mean that you automatically make choices that are in alignment with your best interests. But what will happen is that you will make a conscious choice, good or bad, rather than an unconscious one.
While this all might sound rather simple, the truth is to use the power of the pause you need to create a habit of doing it. And like any habit it takes time to establish. And that requires practice.
Start by taking one pause a day.
Do it consistently.
You will be surprised the difference it makes.