What does it mean to pause?
The country has been asked to ‘pause’ so that the government and the health officials can get the surging COVID-19 situation under control. The ongoing 15-day national pause for some means a lack of income, which has been the reality of thousands of Barbadians since last March. For others, it means work-from-home and continuing to integrate homeschooling into their daily lives. But what exactly does it mean to pause? We spoke with Randi-Mae Stanford-Leibold, author, mindfulness facilitator, and professional speaker on some essential tools that can help get people through this difficult and unprecedented time.
Stanford-Leibold sees taking care of one’s mental well-being as just as important as one’s external hygiene. According to her, taking a pause becomes ‘internal food’ that you can give yourself throughout the day.
“So the question becomes, ‘what does a pause look like?’ Most of the time during this time, we’re sitting in one location if you’re working from home or you’re just home. But your mind is wandering everywhere, wondering how you’re going to manage. Maybe it’s wondering about work, wondering about family . . . and so the pause is how can we get our mind and our body just to have a moment of relief a couple of times throughout the day?”, she explained.
Admitting that telling people to pause and breathe sounds simple, the mindfulness expert stresses that it is really not as simple as it sounds.
“It’s giving yourself permission to say ‘I’m gonna give myself a mental break throughout the day’. In a pause, what we’re exploring is how do we explore relaxation and how do we explore gratitude in this difficult time? People have lost loved ones, we’ve lost jobs . . . but what we do still have is our breath and our heart beating. And that can be something that grounds us every time we feel pulled by the tragedies of our day-to-day,” she emphasised.
As for work-life balance, Stanford-Leibold, who herself has been working from home in Canada due to the pandemic since last March and is a mother to a nine-year-old, advises readers to look at it as more of a work-life integration. Using herself as an example, she told COVID Weekly that she integrates pause into her day from the moment she wakes up.
“When I integrate pauses in my day, I don’t feel like I’m waiting for Friday to come for me to feel like I’m taking care of me,” she said with a smile.
She also encourages everyone to write down five things at the beginning of each week that bring joy and try to incorporate one of those things each day.
There are two schools of thought pertaining to how people should treat the pandemic in terms of taking it slow and relaxing or “coming out” of the pandemic with new skills, making more money, etc. However, Stanford-Leibold believes that they can both co-exist. “I think that we can learn new things and I also think that we should take this as life giving us a moment to not be so rushed and busy and to learn how to center ourselves,” she explained.
And with the pandemic disrupting lives, it is safe to say that there is no “back to normal”. How do people shift their thinking and become more aligned to one in which they have to co-exist with this dreaded virus for some time to come?
“One of the things that people can start to think about is that COVID has given us a restart on how we live our lives. Most of us are now working from home or we’ve lost a job. We’re in these new experiences, and so I think instead of thinking ‘I’m gonna go back to my old life after COVID is done’, we should all take a pause to regroup and think about ‘how do I want my new life to be’?”
In order to do this, Stanford-Leibold cautioned that people have to take the pandemic seriously.
“It’s gonna take some time and it’s gonna take some reflection. It’s gonna take being more intentional about how we engage with people and how we engage with ourselves and how we take care of each other, essentially, is what this pause in COVID is really asking us to do.”
This article appears in the first issue of COVID Weekly. See link here to read the publication.