Taking a mental timeout
"Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective."
- Zoe Zantamata
Timeouts in sports help teams regroup and put together a game plan to execute. Timeouts for toddlers give them an opportunity to hopefully reflect on what they have done. Timeouts, no matter what their purpose, can be helpful to check in with ourselves and briefly check out of whatever it was we were in the middle of doing. We should allow ourselves to take timeouts when we need them, whether we are at work or at home. Personal timeouts can be a great way to address or deescalate a situation where we are feeling overwhelmed or out of sorts.
Our emotions can be powerful and cause us to do some irrational things in the moment that, in hindsight, could have been avoided if we had not allowed our emotions to get the best of us. Sometimes our emotions can suddenly strike us with fear and anxiety when we least expect it. It's in moments like these where we can benefit from mental check-ins with ourselves. It can provide a quick reset, like Ctrl+Alt+Delete, but for our minds. Even if time is at a premium, just a couple minutes can work wonders for our mental health.
It's imperative to have no distractions during the timeout. A few great activities to maximize the timeout include breathing techniques, guided mediations, reciting mantras or affirmations, and going for a walk. Some people find sitting quietly for a few minutes while allowing the mind chatter to dissolve is all they need to get back to their day. It can be helpful to explore the many different options before settling on what works best for each of us. The key is to take timeouts when we start feeling our emotions getting the best of us, or in a situation that seems to be escalating out of our control.
We may not always have the luxury of jut a few minutes. We can still become aware of how our emotions are affecting us and be more careful not to let our emotions get the best of us. When we can spare the time, it can be the difference between a day getting worse or a day getting so much better. Mental timeouts should not be something we plead with ourselves to do. We may think we are being tough or dedicated by not taking a quick break from it all, but it can backfire if we choose to avoid our mental health altogether. Timeouts can prevent burnout, mistakes and regrets. We benefit greatly by taking them as needed. No doctor's prescription required.
Healthy Psych: Psychology Tools: How to Take a “Time Out”
Everyday Health: 5 Ways to Practice Breath-Focused Meditation