“Do more!”  “Be More!” “Get more!”  “Never Give Up!”  “Push to Reach Your Goals!” “Stop Slacking Off!”  Our devotion to perpetual busyness is not healthy, and if we’re not careful can lead to burnout. The pressure we face from work commitments and family responsibilities seems relentless. Our brains are being bombarded with information all day (and night) from news stories, texts, emails, and social media to name a few. Sometimes, it feels like we’re operating at 110% for weeks on end. We seem reluctant to take time out from it all. Are we afraid to stop? Are we afraid to even pause for a little while?

I read recently that a life without pauses is like a paragraph without punctuation – it runs on and on and leaves us feeling breathless and overwhelmed. Our brains need downtime for a number of reasons. It’s needed to make and solidify memories. It enables our brains to make sense of what we’ve learnt and may bring unresolved tension to the surface.   When we stop, we notice things about ourselves, those around us and about the world in which we live. As we notice these things, we are able to respond more thoughtfully and sensitively to people and situations. We need to pause at times to bring order and balance into our lives.  Pressing pause encourages creativity. 

I’m constantly amazed how psychological studies are now confirming our need of some of the practices talked about in the Bible. One of earliest commands is to have a day off each week. How many of us actually take a full day off when we stop working, stop achieving, stop producing, stop acquiring and stop running to-and-fro to meet the demands and expectations of those around us?  Psychologists urge us now to consider having a full day away from technology every week. Are we afraid too?  If that’s too challenging, what about taking some deliberate mental health breaks during the day?

 How many of us claim time to enjoy solitude and silence away from the constant barrage of advertisements and news updates?  Are we afraid of idleness? We shouldn’t be, because idleness is necessary for standing back from life, seeing it whole, making unexpected connections as well as waiting for inspiration. Are you willing to press pause?

Jenny Billingham

(If you have a topic that you’d like more information about and think might interest other parents, please don’t hesitate to email me with suggestions at j.billingham@mueller.qld.edu.au  Thanks.)