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  • Writer's pictureSusan & Renée

Appreciating the Pause

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

We are truly the luckiest business consultants ever! We plan customized retreats that let leadership teams take deep dives into their organizations. We are always amazed at how the people we work with take our content to the next level and we all leave with wonderful insights.

We just finished a retreat with the passionate, creative Administrative Team at Griffin School in Austin, Texas.

As we were ending, one of the participants talked about the musical symbol, the fermata.

Fermata means pause.

The participant reminded the group to appreciate the pause. That doing so can help improve the quality of communication because it gives you a chance to emotionally settle, gather your thoughts and think about how your words will impact others. It is an act of caring for yourself and those around you.

We couldn’t agree more.

When things are stressful, we can all get caught up in those escalating feelings. Taking a pause can work wonders.

Check out this Self Compassion Break, adapted from the work of psychologist Kristin Neff.

Why does it work? Self-compassion operates on our physiology. It actually works with the nervous system. When we’re critical of ourselves, our cortisol rates (the stress hormone) rises and this increases inflammation. Compassion practices lower cortisol and increases heart rate variability which calms and centers our bodies.

Try this for just 1 minute.

Step 1: Bring in some mindfulness. Think of something real in your life that’s troubling you. It could be something you’re stressed about at work or at home. Just be mindful of the fact that it is hard. Say something to yourself to acknowledge and validate your experience. For example: There are so many things that I am having to deal with right now. It seems like things will never get done. You’re acknowledging what is going on and allowing your brain to focus on how you are feeling in the here and now.

Step 2: Bring in some kindness. One way to bring yourself kindness is through physical touch and breathing. Breathing and touch also work on our physiology and help calm our bodies down. After taking a deep inhale through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, try putting your hands over your heart, placing your hands in a clasp or any sort of physical gesture that helps you feel supported or soothed.

Step 3: Say some words of kindness and support about the situation you’re dealing with. Sometimes it can feel hard or silly to talk to yourself. To get started, think about:

  • What would I say to a friend if they were going through the same situation?

  • How would I say it to them? What tone of voice would I use?

  • What words of compassion would I say?

This isn’t just saying things are going to be okay. It is saying things that are specific to what you are going through. For example: Wow, that is a lot. I know that I am smart, resourceful and have people around me that can help.

For some people practicing this type of self talk can feel awkward at first. Just know that the benefits of self talk are long established by researchers from all types of disciplines. Give it a try.

These are simple steps that you can do in a momentary pause in your day…Mindfulness, breathing, touch and kindness.

Thank you Griffin School Administration Team for reminding us of the importance of pausing to take care of ourselves.

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