If we discovered anything during the “Coronavirus Shutdown of 2020”, it was that our society has grown increasingly dependent upon the illusory productivity that being busy can provide.
Between our familial responsibilities, career and social groups, our filled calendars and the accompanying exhaustion have somehow become badges of honor.
If asked last December about the importance of rest and stillness, many would champion the importance of maintaining work/life balance, and of how they would cultivate relationships as soon as “things slowed down.” And then the world slowed down, and the nation seemingly lost its mind.
In April 2020, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that in March 2020, calls to their distress line increased 891% over the previous year.
Across the nation, organizations scrambled to provide services to address increasing levels of anxiety and depression.
Did a shutdown really cause this much dis-ease? Yes.
The inability to determine exactly how the coronavirus was transmitted, coupled with unemployment and the transition to remote schooling and teleworking, abruptly challenged our sense of control. Yet, another challenge emerged, and it was unrelated to health, school or work. People had challenges simply remaining at home. Why?
We quickly realized that stillness was a foreign practice for many people. Beyond kindergarten when nap time was a daily staple, “pause” has since been linked to punishments such as “time out”, “grounded”, “detention” or “probation”. We have become disconnected from the benefit routine pausing can provide.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, in 2018, Americans forfeited 236 million vacation days, equating to $65.5 billion in lost benefits. More than half (55%) of American workers report not using all their allotted time off. Yes, our work culture rewards climbing the corporate ladder by any means necessary; even if it means forsaking physical and mental health.
However, the onus is on us to recognize the power of pause and to make pausing a priority.
What if we used this shutdown to usher in a shift in consciousness where “work/life balance” moves beyond being a corporate buzz phrase to actually being a nonnegotiable lifestyle choice?
What if we allowed the abrupt triage of our priorities (over the past few months) to guide us in determining what/who is essential, and what/who we can quarantine from permanently?
What if we stopped pining for the world that once was, and we leaned into what we could learn about God, ourselves, and others?
What if we paused to “awaken ourselves so we could better awaken the world?”
If you need it, you now have permission to pause.