3 Reasons You NEED To Be A 'Stop And Smell The Roses' Kind Of Gal

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Making time for yourself is SUPER important

We’ve all heard the phrase, “take time to stop and smell the roses.”  According to Wiktionary, this means “To take time out of one’s busy schedule to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life.” And yet we lead such stressful, busy lives, don't we? To the point that this sounds paradoxically true — but kind of impractical.  

Perhaps like you, the first thought that used to come to my mind when I started on my inner peace journey and hearing this was, “Yep, that sounds right.” But at the same time, another part of me resisted the idea and laughed it off, thinking “Yeah right. Who has time for that?”

Over the years, as I intensified various practices for deliberately bringing in more and more inner peace into my ordinary everyday life,
I began to realize that — beyond a shadow of a doubt — giving ourselves pause isn’t simply a hippie-dippie luxury. Giving ourselves a break doesn’t just keep us sane, it actually makes us more efficient and productive.  

Happily enough, more and more scientific studies have been supporting this notion (see this article in Scientific American and this one in The Atlantic).

So how does stopping and smelling the roses make us more productive? Let’s pause right here and try this little exercise. We’re going to breathe in to the count of 6, and breathe out to the count of 8.  

Start counting — 1-2-3-4-5-6 — and synchronize it with a FULL inhalation.  

Now, breathe out fully, and as you read the numbers, count mentally 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. That’s it. Try two more cycles of such inhalation and exhalation, making sure to take your time. 

Now, ask yourself, how are you feeling now? Chances are, you’re now feeling a little softer, a little more at ease. Are you reminded — without referring to any scientific evidence — what the benefits of pausing are?  

For me and the people I’ve worked with, here’re the most common benefits we notice right away:

1. A sense of stepping back, taking the time to look at your surroundings.

2. A chance to clear your mind.

3. A way to balance your emotions.

When we come to this state of mind and balanced emotions, we're able to make better decisions more quickly. Meaning what used to take us say half-hour to decide, we can now do in minutes or seconds.

There are many approaches to pausing that takes just a few minutes that can give us back so much more time and energy.
Personally, I find that generally speaking, the approaches that work best generally fall in one of 2 categories:

  • An approach that takes us back to being aware of our feeling or of being present in the body.
  • An approach that positively reminds us of nature, that ultimately connects us back to nature.

We’ve just run through the first approach with the breathing exercise above, and seen the effects for ourselves. Let’s touch on the virtues of second approach briefly.  

Back to the phrase of stopping and smelling the roses — such an approach within everyday activities (like in the office) has been scientifically evaluated and reviewed in notable journals such as in this Oxford Journal article, where original findings cited go as far back as the 1970s. It was also mentioned here that drivers who were more nature-inclined experienced less stress than other drivers.   

Less stress in daily activities means more opportunity to free up our energy, and thus be more productive in things that really matter to us.

Another interesting scientific study was one done for two groups of patients recovering from abdominal surgery in hospital rooms. One group was recovering in hospital rooms with plants, the other group without.  As it turned out, the patients in rooms with plants needed less analgesics and had more positive physiological measurements (read: lower heart rate, less emotional discomfort), compared to those without plants.  

It is one thing to know these as common, sensical facts, and another thing to take these messages home and really apply these consistently in our personal lives. Start small, go in small reachable “doses,” and then it will become a habit over time.  

Start taking time to smell the roses in your life by following these tips:

1. Identify realistic opportunities for downtime or pausing throughout your day (just before waking up or after lunch with colleagues).  

2. Identify things that resonate with you to do or be during your pause periods. Do you breathe in deeply, and exhale deeply?  Do you go outside and look up at the sky?  Do you make your tea, bring it to a place to sit where there’s a view, and just look out the window? 

3. Pen in your downtime in your calendar (like three minutes of P A U S E right after lunch every single work day, five minutes of P A U S E as you lay in bed just after turning off the alarm, etc.)

Dedicate yourself to doing these for 3 weeks and you’ll see the difference in your life.


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