Posted on: February 2, 2018 at 11:32 am
Last updated: July 29, 2019 at 4:50 pm

Our busy lives have a tendency to sneak up on us – with work responsibilities, family obligations, taking kids to soccer practice and many other daily tasks,  we often don’t have time to stop and breathe.


At some point, we look at our lives and create an intention to make changes in our lives. It may be physical, i.e. to lose weight, or it may be spiritual or emotional, i.e. to live without unnecessary fear. Whatever it is, it’s an intention to change and this give us an opportunity to create a new habit.


As we go through the craziness of our daily lives, we often come out on the other end a little burnt out, a little tired, and ready for a week-long nap.


For many years this has been my experience, and I can bet you I’m not alone on this one. Often we forget to give ourselves permission to pause, and because of this, we eventually burn out and crash.

Our body forces us to take stock and make intentional changes. The allure of losing 10 pounds, or of sticking to a gym membership/workout routine is appealing. While these can be health-promoting goals, they can also create new stresses. Many of us who have attempted to stick to such goals end up calling it quits or falling off the bandwagon a few days, weeks or a couple of months in. The problem is we’re not giving ourselves permission to pause.

Give Yourself Permission to Pause

What is Permission to Pause?

It’s exactly what it sounds like.


Most of us go through life jumping from one thing into the next. This is just the way life is, and it’s the way society is. We believe it’s acceptable to be busy all the time and spread thin across all of our daily activities. We work hard, and forget to play. We take care of others and forget to take care of ourselves. For some, they experience chronic stress that is dulled by stimulants, like caffeine or pick-me-ups, like sugar and alcohol. For others, they simply burn out and have a hard time getting through the day.

But we all have something in common – something that we’ve forgotten to embrace as a society – and that is giving ourselves permission to pause.

Giving yourself permission to pause is an extremely important self-care activity. We should be giving ourselves permission to pause on a daily basis for at least a few minutes in order to rest and reset our brains. Pausing is a powerful tool to manage stress and gives us the opportunity to practice mindfulness. Instead of rushing through our lives, we should encourage ourselves to take a step back on a daily basis and just be present in our lives. We should clear our minds and let our thoughts and emotions come to us, so we can better understand our emotional and physical state.

8 Warning Signs You’re Mentally and Emotionally Exhausted

  1. You’re easily irritated.
  2. You feel completely unmotivated- even to do things you normally enjoy.
  3. You’re experiencing anxiety or panic attacks.
  4. You’re having trouble sleeping. Either it takes you hours to fall asleep or your sleep is broken all through the night.
  5. You have almost no patience and you find yourself being short with colleagues and family.
  6. You’re experiencing indigestion. You have a low-grade stomach ache all the time or feel like there’s butterflies in your stomach.
  7. You start crying unexpectedly.
  8. You feel detached from reality- you go through your days without really emotionally responding or connecting to anything. You feel empty.

Why We Need to Pause More than Ever

Women are especially bad at giving themselves permission to take a moment of alone time. We are often raised to give to others, without considering our needs. We put ourselves on the backburner and prioritize our loved ones. That’s why it’s important to allow yourself to pause – not to simply do it, but give yourself permission without feeling the guilt.

If we don’t take time for ourselves, we risk burning out. We run on empty and this can affect our energy levels, mood, passion and drive. We become bogged down with details and become less efficient and productive. Emotionally we can feel angry, frustrated, defeated and stuck. Taking a few moments to refuel the gas tank is key to overcoming or avoiding these situations.

Treating Stress and Anxiety: How do I Give Myself “Permission to Pause”?

Treating stress and anxiety is challenging, especially for those of us who aren’t used to pausing. However, setting the intention for more self-care, or the intention to “pause” for at least 10 minutes a day, is a powerful way to begin building the habit.

Everyone’s “pause” may look different. Some might use this time to meditate, do a little yoga flow or write in a journal. Here are five easy ways you can give yourself permission to pause today:


Take ten minutes out of your day, whenever is convenient, and pop a 10-minute guided meditation on. If you’d prefer an unguided meditation, this is a favourite: sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, or lie on your back. Put your hands on your belly and practice deep belly breathing. With every inhale the belly expands, and with every exhale it contracts towards your spine. Simply focus on how your breathing feels with each inhale and exhale. If you’d like, you can add a mantra: each inhale is “I am”, and each exhale is a word that resonates, i.e. “peace” or “love”.


Take ten minutes and go for a walk. Simply moving and getting out of your regular environment can awaken the senses and give your mind some clarity. Take time to appreciate and notice your surroundings and really be present.


Having a journal is so practical, especially when it comes to releasing emotions. I find that writing down my thoughts and feelings releases some of the tension inside of me. However you can use your journal in whichever way you prefer. You can focus on listing what you’re grateful for, or you can use it to brain-dump the thoughts swirling around in your head keeping you distracted. Others use their journal to free-write. Just put your pen to paper and write whatever comes to your mind – no filter. This can be incredibly therapeutic.


Do a quick yoga flow with 20 sun salutations, or throw yourself into child’s pose for 10 minutes. Whatever feels right for you in that moment. Focus on your breath – breathe deeply into your belly and be fully present in the experience.


If you enjoy drawing or painting, take time to do this. If you play an instrument or enjoy singing, make it a priority. Do something that allows you to express yourself and your creativity. So many of us suppress our creativity for practicality or out of fear of judgement. During creative expression we’re able to connect with what makes us truly happy and can learn more about ourselves. Let your artistic side fly – even if you don’t consider yourself an “artist”!

Permission is Essential for Success

Giving yourself permission to embrace pausing and self-care is critical. So many women would look at this list and feel selfish for embracing this alone time. Pausing is not selfish – in fact, it’s the exact opposite. Self-care activities allow us to replenish our energy stores. They improve our mood and make us more peaceful. This has a powerful impact on the way we live our lives, how we treat others and the amount of energy we have to spend time with the ones we love.

Self-care is not selfish; it’s self-respecting and completely necessary to be the best version of ourselves. We must honour our needs, recognizing that we thrive when we give ourselves a little love and allow ourselves to pause.

This time should be non-negotiable, and we should never feel guilty for embracing it. It’s a basic human need that so many of us overlook. Let’s begin to embrace self-care. Let’s give ourselves permission to pause.

This article is shared with permission from our friends at Kelly Maia Nutrition.

Mini-habits to prevent stress and burnout | The Hearty Soul

Kelly Agnew
Holistic Nutritionist
A holistic nutritionist in the making, Kelly is a marketer by day and a wellness blogger + nutrition student by night. She is passionate about inspiring women to take control of their lives by balancing nutrition, exercise and general well-being. She shares her stories in hopes to inspire others to live holistically and fully.

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