Permission to Pause
Theresa Polley
February 27, 2024
March 18, 2024
Self Care

I attended my first retreat (as a guest, not a host) in November of 2023, after almost 20 years of hosting retreats! It took me that long to give myself permission to pause. I enjoyed it so much, I plan to retreat quarterly. I know now that I deserve it, but I didn’t always think that way.

I’m an ardent believer that a pause makes everything better. Whether it’s a few minutes in a busy day or a day/weekend/even longer away from the hustle of daily life. 

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.  ~Guillaume Appollinaire

In order to give myself permission to pause, I had to acknowledge what was realistic. These acknowledgments allow me to honor myself with what I need.

  • I can prioritize what needs to be done.
  • I can set boundaries with the people around me.
  • I can ask for help when I need it.
  • I can leave things undone.

Making peace with the unrealistic expectation that I "need" to get everything done immediately is the hardest step. It is also the most crucial.

Leave Things Undone

Giving yourself permission to leave things undone is powerful.

Leaving things undone can look like:

  • Not returning a call, text or email right away.
  • Leaving the dishes in the sink.
  • Making sandwiches for dinner.
  • Closing your laptop at the end of the day, even when all your work tasks aren’t completed.

As women, we continually take on more and more and that's usually when we start to lose ourselves. I experienced it first hand in my marriage and again when Mason came to live with me – it's been over six years and I'm happy to say I've found myself again.   

Four Ways To Take a Pause

Taking a pause doesn't look the same for everyone, and there's no set time frame. If possible, try to limit your phone usage during your pause.

  • First 15: Start your day with 15 minutes of gratitude journaling, setting an intention, reading something inspirational, meditation, prayer – whatever soothes your soul.
  • Mini breaks: Throughout your day, take 5-10 minutes for reading, taking a walk, sitting outside, gardening, exercising – anything to take your mind off the things that "need" to be done.
  • You Day: Take a day to yourself. Whether it's scheduling a day full of activities you love or simply staying at home and finding stillness – enjoy your own company and tune out the noise.
  • Vacation: Take time away from the stresses of your day-to-day life. No checking work emails or Zoom meetings. No planning a loved one's birthday party. If your family or friends bring you joy, by all means invite them. If not, try to get away by yourself, even for a short weekend retreat.

A pause is NOT: doing laundry, shopping, vacuuming or scrolling endlessly on social media. Brené Brown calls that "stresslaxing" and it most certainly is not relaxing! I know because that used to be how I relaxed!

I'll say it again because it was hard for me: give yourself permission to leave things undone and pause. When you unpause, you will discover everything you need to do is still waiting for you.

This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

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Theresa Polley

Theresa believes ALL women have the right to live life on their own terms. In 2004, she created Retreat in the Pines to give women a safe space to be their authentic selves without apology while finding the healing and renewal they deserve.

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