Coming out of lockdown: the power of pressing pause

Over the last few months, life across the world has been paused to a great degree. Work furloughs, postponed holidays, rescheduled weddings and suspended surgical clinics have left everyone in a strange sense of limbo and uncertainty.

Now, as restrictions begin to ease all around, many of us are thinking about what things will be like when as a society we press ‘play’ again.

Queues outside Lidl, Connswater Belfast

• Some of us will remember how, pre-pandemic, we lived life in FAST-FORWARD

…I mean that perpetual push on to the ever-elusive something ‘better’ in the future.

🌱 ‘I’ll be content when I get that promotion.’

🌱 ‘I’ll be satisfied when I accomplish that self build in the country.’

🌱 ‘I’ll be happy when I have 2.4 kids and a people carrier.’

🌱 ‘I’ll enjoy life a lot more when I’m retired and travelling the world.’

Planning ahead can be profitable, but living too far in the future can be seriously detrimental. It disconnects you from your present self and stops you processing the here and now. Nobody knows what
things will be like next month, never mind next year. Try to stop your mind from time travelling, open the doors and take in the view in front of you.

An uncharacteristically empty scene in the Cathedral quarter, Belfast

• Pre-COVID-19, some of us lived life on endless REPEAT…

…I mean replaying past events in your head and constantly mulling over the ‘what ifs?’ I mean re-runs of conversations had and opportunities missed.

🌱 ‘If only I hadn’t invested in that company.’

🌱 ‘Things might have worked out better if I had stayed at that church.’

🌱 ‘wish I had trained for a different career.’

🌱 ‘What if I had waited longer to have kids.’

🌱 ‘I should have invested in my marriage sooner.’

Making sense of our past is freeing, but living in it is destructive. You are not defined by your past. It is your story, but there’s always another chapter to pen, and more twists in the plot to discover. Turn to the next page, and start writing your dreams again.

A deserted Victoria Square, Belfast

• Pre-Virus, how many of us were on PLAY 24-7?

… I mean you didn’t stop. You never switched off. You couldn’t unplug. You had a fear of missing out. You had an addiction to social media and answering emails; and a fear of being alone.

Everyone knows that this isn’t good for anyone. But it doesn’t stop us from doing what is bad for us. Constant connectivity might be socially beneficial, but it is emotionally draining.

Over the next few weeks, why not try letting your phone run out of charge once in a while and experience the freedom of disconnecting for a while?

I suppose one important question remains: as the new normal unfolds, will we remember the power of the PAUSE?

The pause is powerful because there comes a point where most, if not all of us, have found ourselves forced to STOP.

The pace of life we lived at before this pandemic was completely unsustainable. Yes, things now may feel completely out of our control. It’s a frightening place to be. But it’s also a place where we can take stock. Reflect. Determine to live a different way.

• It’s in this place that we learn the power of the PAUSE.

What does that look like? I don’t know how it will play out for you, but I can tell you what it looks like for me.

🌱 Pressing pause is when my little girl is laughing so hard she can hardly breathe; I screen-shot that moment in my mind and reflect on it, in all its joy, simplicity and wonder.

🌱 Pressing pause is when my worries threaten to spiral out of control, and I force myself to pause and ask ‘what can I find to be thankful for in this very moment? What blessing am I enjoying right now?’

🌱 Pressing pause is when I’m tempted to fast forward to when my house will be clean again; I make a mental note that right now I have a disorderly house with two loud and mischievous little girls, but in years to come It’ll be a whole lot cleaner and a whole lot quieter. What an important reminder for me to hold them tighter and laugh about the chaos!

🌱 Pressing pause is when I’m about to lose my temper and I count to ten, allow myself to breathe it out, and leave the room. This gives my brain time to recalibrate and choose a calmer way to communicate my frustration.

🌱 Pressing pause is when I’m tempted to buy something I really want, but I don’t, because I really don’t need it. In a week’s time, will I still want it? Probably not. Will my bank balance be better for it? Most definitely.

🌱 Pressing pause allows me to rest, to re-calibrate, to reflect on my priorities and make time and allowances for my special people.

The Bible has a word for this kind of pause. It’s a Hebrew word called ‘selah’- and it means something like ‘pause and calmly think about that.’

The art of Selah is a habit that takes effort to form. It’s still far from habitual for me!

But what if pressing pause allowed us to enjoy this wonderful, beautiful, crazy, painful, bewildering thing called life as we should?

Knowing that greater things are ahead, understanding that significant things are behind. But unwrapping the gift of the present with anticipation and wonder, revelling in what we are about to discover.

What does ‘selah’ look like for you?

H x

Lady Dixon Park, Belfast

Published by Hilary

Mum of two girls 👩‍👧‍👧 positive inspiration 💡 parenting 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 health 🏃‍♀️ life 💓 faith 📖

2 thoughts on “Coming out of lockdown: the power of pressing pause

  1. Such a beautiful, thought-provoking post. It’s so important for our mental health to just press pause sometimes. Thanks for sharing!


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