The events of the past few weeks have made many people re-assess the lives they were leading before the pandemic. How about you? Do you marvel at how you spent your time when there were no restrictions on your movements? Do you see your relationships with others differently now?
If you are not working on the front line and have some distance from your ordinary daily grind, this is a good time to check if your actions are aligned with your beliefs. It’s an an opportunity to pause. So I checked in with Rachael O’Meara, who speaks and writes about the power of taking an intentional pause to redirect our lives.
Rachael is author of Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break. She’s passionate about helping people come through overwhelm and burnout to create a more meaningful life.
Her message is particularly timely right now, as many parts of the world find themselves in a forced, global pause. Businesses are on hold and jobs uncertain. Those lucky enough to be able to work from home are missing their usual support systems and habits (to say nothing of child care.)
Rachael suggests that we approach that disruption with mindfulness and awareness, as a chance to regroup and realign. Here are some highlights from a recent conversation we had. (Find the full interview here.)
Finding intention in the pause
Rachael refers to a pause as any time in which you make an intentional shift in behavior. It’s taking a break and finding a “gateway into being more self-aware.” That’s a lovely idea to bring to our experience of the current moment.
A pause is a “gateway into being more self-aware.”
Even small moments of intention and awareness can help us find meaning in the pause. Rachael suggests, “This is a chance for you to check in with where you’re out of alignment, how you want to live, how you want to be and show up. This is a time to throw the old expectations out the window. This is an unknown paradigm.”
What does this mean for you in the pandemic?
Spend time reflecting if possible. Maybe you can find a few minutes for journaling, or spending moments before bedtime reflecting. Ask yourself how you’re doing, and how you can be more truly with yourself.
You can try something creative as well, whether baking bread, drawing, or writing poetry.
“It’s a great time to be creative, but that doesn’t mean you have to set expectations of churning out a book of poetry.”
What if you want to binge-watch Netflix?
Even streaming Netflix can be a meaningful part of your pause, if you’re doing it with intention, to meet a personal need. What does it mean that you just want to veg out? Do you need to watch something soothing so you can sleep?
Set realistic expectations
What if we have grandiose schemes for this time, and then find that it’s unusually hard to get them done? (Asking for a friend, ahem…)
Rachael’s advice here is to be kind to ourselves and understand our mental load. “Research tells us we typically overestimate what we can do in a year—with or without any Covid-19 virus. Imagine when there’s a stressor like that on board!”
Her advice, then, is to change your perspective and assess. “Allow yourself to take in the reality of the situation. We’re not only home 24/7, but stressors have shifted.”
Be kind to yourself.
Be kind to yourself, be creative, and pay attention to your needs. That’s sound advice for a pandemic and beyond.
More things to check out
Download her free gift for blog readers: Three Keys to Turn Burnout into Thriving
Visit her website: RachaelOMeara.com