Like most people, I struggle to put aside time for myself, especially since becoming a parent. Making time for my own self-care sometimes feels like another task on my lengthy to-do list.
I know that finding time to decompress can help with wellbeing, but it's simply impossible for me to do an hour-long meditation every day.
However, research shows that even brief mindful moments can improve mood and attention span. Could a two minute breather really make a meaningful difference to my day? Here’s what I found.
What is a power pause
I decided to tackle this project by doing a two-minute 'power pause' every day, for at least three days. This could be a quick meditation, a body scan or some simple breathwork.
Louise Barton, a health coach and mindfulness teacher, has developed an entire methodology about the Power Pause and refers to it as ‘micro self-care.’
"Sometimes all you need is a minute to yourself to re-centre, re-group and reconnect, then you can feel just a little bit more like you again," Barton says.
According to her, these mini-meditations can help you keep your cool on days when you have a packed schedule and nothing left in the tank. They can also help give your brain a break when it's feeling overwhelmed.
"Scattered throughout the day, these power pause moments will give your mind periodic breathers to take a break from running at 100mph and allow your brain to simply focus on one thing—the present moment—this gives you a sense of calm, peace and ease."
Louise is an integrated nutrition health coach and mindfulness teacher. She’s passionate about helping people, especially mums, nourish themselves on and off the plate. Louise helps her clients understand how small moments and simple habits can make a big difference to your wellbeing.
What I noticed when I gave it a try
I was feeling overwhelmed on a particularly busy morning when I decided to try my first micro moment. I shut my laptop and did a two-minute breathwork exercise. The widely popular 4-7-8 method is quick, easy and effective. Simply inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold for seven, and exhale through your mouth for eight. I did this for four rounds and was surprised at how this little self-care ritual reset my nervous system and brought me back into the present.
On day two, my mind was flitting between work and home. So, before I finished up at the office and darted off on the nursery run, I decided to pause, and check in with a quick body scan. Starting with a few deep breaths—in through the nose and out through the mouth—I began scanning down my body. It didn’t take long to notice that my shoulders were practically up by my ears and I felt a tightness around my ribs. But as I continued to breathe, my shoulders started to drop and the constriction began to ease.
I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal since the start of this year and have been amazed at the instant mind benefits it can provide. Usually, I journal at the end of each day, but I decided to try a quick gratitude check as one of my power pauses. I used my regular prompts: what made you smile today; your highlight of the day; your daily gratitude, and once I’d written them down, I immediately had a more positive outlook on my day. It just goes to show that taking a moment to remember to breathe, notice and acknowledge the good in the present can instantly reframe any negativity or stress impacting your day.
The biggest lesson? It’s easy to say you’re too busy to take a moment for yourself, but in the time it takes to utter that sentence, you could be halfway through one of these exercises. You deserve at least two minutes of self-care, no matter how much you have on your plate.
Try this two minute breathwork exercise
Eve Lewis Prieto, director of teaching, and a meditation and mindfulness teacher at Headspace, shares this easy exercise:
- Either sitting or standing, eyes open or closed, but not looking at any particular thing, start by taking big deep breaths. Breathe in through the nose, focusing on the sensation of the body filling with air; as you breathe out through your mouth, feel your muscles soften and your body relax as it lets go.
- Focus on your points of contact. Notice the distribution of weight in your feet or buttocks, and find your balance. Take in the sounds around you, not blocking them out.
- Bring attention back to the body. Bring your focus to the top of the head and work your way down towards your toes, gently scanning down.
- As you become more aware of the physical sensations, notice how your body is breathing. Are your breaths long, short, deep or shallow?
- Allow your thoughts to come and go, and every time you get distracted come back to your breath as a place of focus.
- Stay right here in this moment, not focusing on the future or the past. Maintain this awareness as you come out of the meditation and begin to feel an increasing sense of readiness in both the body and the mind.
Eve is the director of teaching and a certified meditation teacher at Headspace Health. Eve’s journey into meditation began almost a decade ago and she is passionate about teaching the benefits of mindfulness. Originally from the UK, Eve now lives in LA with her husband and sausage dog, Pedro.
Get the Fit&Well Newsletter
Start your week with achievable workout ideas, health tips and wellbeing advice in your inbox.
Holly Treacy is a freelance editor with more than 15 years experience. Previously editor of Natural Health magazine and Health & Wellbeing magazine, Holly specializes in health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics and has edited and written for titles including Stylist, Psychologies, Top Sante, Women's Fitness and Platinum.
She is passionate about women's health, hormonal wellbeing and mental wellness, as well as creating healthy habits as a busy mum of one.
Holly enjoys investigating the mind-body connection and has a holistic approach to health and nutrition. She loves yoga, swimming and walking, especially in the English countryside and she launched, produced and hosted the Walk To Wellbeing podcast.
Just five moves can help strengthen and stabilize your shoulders. Here's what a personal trainer says you should be doing
Try these five functional movements to keep your shoulders strong and mobile
By Lou Mudge Published
Sculpt and strengthen your upper body in 10 minutes with this super-efficient four-move dumbbell routine
Workout Try out Mr and Mrs Muscle’s upper body dumbbell routine and feel the burn in just ten minutes
By Lou Mudge Published