The 5-Minute Practice That Helps Me Reset Throughout the Day | wit and pleasure

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned the virtues of pausing before reacting, especially when stressed or upset. (Oh, how I wish this was easier to remember in the moment!) I’ve come to realize that the secret behind “the pause,” which is beneficial for both parenting and navigating other relationships, is discovering how to be comfortable with not reacting And that means being comfortable with being still, even if all our instincts say otherwise.

Stillness is not something you do perfectly. It is not necessarily a meditative state. Framing it that way can be another way of judging yourself. Rather, stillness is about pausing and observing. It is a muscle that, when exercised, becomes stronger over time.

There’s a quote from Rachel Cargle that I read recently that really struck me:

Life can simply be lived.

You do not have to:

prove someone wrong…
make anyone proud…
change the world…
leave a lasting legacy…

You can just show up, find joy, be good to yourself and be good to others, learn from the pain, take responsibility, enjoy the wonder, and get through this.

Chances are, we’re always working to find stillness, because so much of what it embodies goes against what we’re taught about what it means to be an “adult,” especially in American culture. We have been taught to keep going, at any cost; that productivity is the most esteemed way in which we can denote our value. It is a mentality that I am continually trying to unravel. I am continually trying to remember what Rachel expressed: that I can simply live a life, without any necessary expectations.

Stillness is about pausing and observing. It is a muscle that, when exercised, becomes stronger over time.

The practice that I am sharing with you today is part of that for me. It’s about allowing myself to pause, even when everything in me tells me to. keep going no breaks required. I hope you find it as useful as I have.

The practice

Taking breaks is something we all need to function. Over time, I realized that I only need a five minute break to walk away, check myself, and reset. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, I take a break, step back from the current project or task, and intentionally take five minutes to myself.

The goal is to do this when you start to feel a little uncomfortable. In my experience, if you let those upset or stressed feelings go too far without addressing them, it can take longer for them to go away.

Why did I start doing it?

Before this practice, I would often feel out of control during the day, get restless or tired, and feel that restless feeling. Previously, what I would do in response to being overwhelmed was bring up a new project or try to bite even more, before I finally hit my breaking point and shut down.

Taking a five-minute break when I need it has helped me learn to notice and respond when I’m entering a state of sensory overwhelm. It is allowing me to gain confidence in myself and in my ability to listen, respond and meet my needs. The more you practice this response cycle, the more opportunities your system has to heal. Things may still skyrocket, but you won’t get caught up in that pattern of overwhelm as often.

For me, this practice began when my therapist introduced me to the polyvagal theory and the effect the vagus nerve has on regulating the parasympathetic nervous system. The feeling of discomfort and overwhelm is called being in a state of mobilization. The goal of a healthy parasympathetic nervous system is to go back and forth from a state of mobilization to a state of relaxation without getting caught up in the exhaustion phase that occurs when it has been mobilized for too long. This practice has helped me regulate my emotions more effectively, so now I rarely get stuck in the mobilizing state.

Why a simple five-minute break makes a big difference in my life

This is how it fits into my daily life

Several times a day, I intentionally pause and check in on myself. I stay still and listen, doing a body scan to notice how I feel. The more I do these logs, the easier it is to do it on autopilot.

I wonder what exactly I need. Would it be nice to sit and just breathe? Would it feel good to put away my clothes? How about hugging the dogs? Would it feel good to get up and walk around for a few minutes? I react and do whatever is necessary in the moment, taking a five-minute break from the current project or task to simply be.

If you are someone who has a hard time figuring out what you need, I have found that sometimes it can be more helpful to respond to the message “I am _____” instead of “I need _____” (eg, I’m hungry, I’m stressed, I’m lonely). Your response will also inform you of your needs, but you’ll be getting that response through a different lens.

I understand that it is a privilege to be able to take this time for myself. Even if you don’t have concrete five-minute breaks in your daily schedule, I hope these check-ins can simply be a time to turn inward for a few seconds and breathe in and out a few times.

The most important thing I learned from this practice is how different it feels compared to other self-help tactics I’ve tried to implement. It feels smooth and light, versus heavy and dependent on willpower. It gets easier over time, rather than harder to stick to. And I think ultimately that’s the secret sauce. It’s about finding ways to take care of yourself that fit perfectly into his life as it is now.

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