Putting Your Mind on Pause Reduces Stress

If you want to put your mind on pause, you don't have to go to India or China or lock yourself away in a silent retreat. You just need to carry out some really basic activities which will calm and balance you. Find out more here.
Putting Your Mind on Pause Reduces Stress
Sergio De Dios González

Written and verified by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 21 July, 2023

Putting your mind on pause means taking a break from those moments when you feel confused or anxious. It’s a simple and practical resource that can help you if you feel that you’re not thinking clearly. It’s also useful when a concern or an obsession takes over your mind.

You could also say that putting your mind on pause is a way of protecting your brain. That’s because, when you’re stressed, your entire body, including your brain, reacts in a similar way to when you’re ill. Its resources are focused on defense which involves significant wear and tear on your body.

If this type of situation occurs frequently, the wear and tear becomes even greater and ends up generating negative consequences on your physical health and the functioning of your brain. Putting your mind on pause is a simple and effective antidote to escape those states of stress and return to a place of balance.

The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength .”

-Marcus Aurelius-

stressed woman
Putting your mind on pause frees it from stress.

Stress damage to your brain

Stress is your body’s response to a threat, or to something that you perceive as a threat, whether or not it’s really the case. This perception unleashes a physiological state of alert that produces changes in your organs and systems of the body. In effect, your body prepares for fight or flight.

Under these conditions, the cognitive functions of your brain are focused on coping with the threat. The rest remains in the background. You can’t really think about looking after yourself. Your senses don’t work as sharply, to the point where it’s possible that you might stop seeing or hearing some of the stimuli in your environment.

If the state of stress persists, even if it’s not so intense, you develop a reduced ability to concentrate. You also become irritable and nervous, with reduced memory and poor performance for activities that require intellectual complexity.

Consequently, stress can be the precursor to many mistakes, inefficiencies, and bad decisions. However, putting your mind on pause is one of the means of counteracting these effects.

Putting your mind on pause

Putting your mind on pause means you must actively intervene in the flow of your thoughts. In metaphorical terms, it’s exactly like pressing the pause button on the remote control while you’re watching a video. It’s an emergency technique to regain your balance and self-control. So how do you do it?

It’s actually pretty simple. It involves performing a routine or mechanical activity in a really elementary way. This could be anything, from washing the dishes to sorting your paperwork. It might be taking a walk, sweeping an area of your house or office, or carrying out any activity that involves some expenditure of physical energy, but without any major mental or emotional involvement.

The key is to really focus on the activity, however basic it may be. If you’re sorting your paperwork, pay attention to the way you’re doing it. If you take a walk, take note of the sensations in your body and look at the view. Or, if you’re washing the dishes, do it meticulously. It’s that simple. That’s all you need to do to put your mind on pause.

walking person
Walking promotes the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel better.

The benefits of putting your mind on pause

If you practice the technique of putting your mind on pause you’ll notice the benefits immediately. You just have to strictly adhere to the two basic principles: perform a mechanical activity and focus on it. You don’t have to do anything else. The thinking behind it is that, when you’re stressed, you usually resist carrying out activities in this way.

In fact, stress causes your mind to initiate a defense dynamic, as we mentioned earlier, and it’s not easy to say to your brain: “Stop. Leave that for a moment”. Indeed, when you’re in a state of stress, you tend to feel that directing your thoughts elsewhere or carrying out a simple activity is too risky. Therefore, the main barrier you need to overcome is to break that way of thinking. 

As with so many other situations in life, it’s often just about making a decision and giving yourself the opportunity to experience something new. The same thing happens with putting your mind on pause. The next time you feel stressed, give yourself permission to do it. We’re sure you’ll find it to be helpful.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bird, W., & Reynolds, V. (2006). Caminar para la salud: La guía completa paso a paso para ponerse en forma y sentirse bien. INDE.
  • Duval, F., González, F., & Rabia, H. (2010). Neurobiología del estrés. Revista chilena de neuro-psiquiatría48(4), 307-318.
  • Liñán, É. E. No-cosas. La sociedad sin pausa. Revista Académica “Voces y Saberes”, 4(4), 32-37.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.