If you’ve ever thought of pressing the pause button on the demands of living, if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the stresses of daily life, then you’re probably in need of a timeout. In our increasingly over-busy lives, the situation we find ourselves in can get the better of us at times. In this information age, society requires us all to be multi-tasking overachievers. We are more than ever plugged in, constantly “on” and always on the go. The wired generation’s tendency to be connected 24/7 produces a level of stress like never before.

Timeout allows us that much needed personal space to reflect, recharge and relax. Perhaps more sobering is the fact that, “failing to take time to recharge your batteries and relax can contribute to some mental health problems such as anxiety or depression or make existing mental disorders worse”. Relaxation or timeout, “therefore is key to maintaining positive mental wellbeing” (“Take time out,” n.d.).

SO WHAT IS STRESS?

Segal, Smith, Segal & Robinson (n.d.) observed that stress is the human’s biological response to demands or threats – man’s survival instinct. Therefore stress is not always bad. In fact, stress can help us step up to meet challenges. It is only when stress becomes overwhelming that it can become a serious problem. Most noticeably is when it starts to damage health, affect moods, relationships and the quality of life.

Stress is caused by external and internal factors (stressors). The former can be brought on by major life changes, financial difficulties, relationship issues, children and family. While the latter includes chronic worry, pessimism, negative self-talk, unrealistic expectations or perfectionism, rigid thinking etc.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ‘ME’ TIME

So how do we deal with stress? By taking breaks or having timeouts! As obvious as it seems, Miller (2011) noted that more often than not, we see taking time out for oneself to be an indulgence. We may even feel guilty for doing so. In fact, many of us forget to take time out for ourselves as “people have all sorts of expectations for themselves and the drive to meet those can make it hard to take time out”.

Some choose timeout to engage in their favourite hobbies like listening to music, and exercising. While others go for a pampering session of massage. Yet others, take it a step further to strengthen one’s resilience to stress through cultivating stillness and mindfulness.

Babauta (n.d.) recommends a 10-Step Approach to mindfulness and stillness, built right into our daily activities (http://www.rd.com/slideshows/10-steps-to-mindfulness/view-all/). He shares tips on being mindful and being present and “being more conscious of life as it happens… which may seem contradictory to those who are used to sacrificing living for pursuing their goals.” By being present in everything we do, we consciously learn how to manage stress and anxiety, prioritising what’s important, while acknowledging that some things are not within our control. Also, knowing when to let things go is essential, for a more balanced, less stressful and happier existence. And it all starts with the simple act of taking time out to clarify thoughts, to unplug from the noise.

References

Babauta, L. (n.d.). 10 steps to mindfulness. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.rd.com/slideshows/10-steps-to-mindfulness/view-all/

Miller, A. (2011). The importance of ‘me’ time. Alberta Health Services. Retrieved from http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/apple/3427.asp

Segal, J., Smith, M., Segal, R., & Robinson, L. (2015). Stress symptoms, signs, and causes: Understanding stress responses and reducing the harmful effects. Helpguide.org. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-symptoms-causes-and-effects.htm

Take Time Out (n.d.). In Young Minds. Retrieved from http://www.youngminds.org.uk/for_children_young_people/better_mental_health/take_time_out

Time-out. (n.d.). In Oxford Dictionaries online. Retrieved from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/time-out