It’s when we pause that we heal.

Research conducted in 2019 showed that Americans check their phones an average of 96 times a day, or once every 10 minutes. In addition, it takes people almost 25 minutes to fully focus on a task an interruption. Put these findings together and it’s clear that many of us are in a constant state of distraction and struggle to attend to the world around us.

What this also means is we’re always “on.” We juggle our work or chores, text messages and notifications from our phones. We also juggle thoughts about what happened yesterday or what’s going to happen tomorrow. The problem with always being “on” in this manner is that we heal when we’re “off.”

The truth that we heal while resting is all around us. Bodybuilders know that lifting weights tears muscle fibers while a recovery period allows them to build back even stronger. A car that never has maintenance eventually dies. And while we pay attention to our heart pumping blood to our organs (systolic phase), it’s during relaxation (diastolic phase) that coronary blood vessels fill and provide oxygen to the heart, which allows it to continue its work. In short, when we don’t take time to rest and recover, we break down.

This 5-minute exercise walks you through a brief moment of pause, which is where healing—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually—begins. You may experience greater calm and peace than you expect, so allow yourself to be surprised.

Ways to practice hope and optimism

Just like taking time to rest, there is healing power in hope and optimism. Some ways to practice hope and optimism include:

  • Focus on what is good in your life.
  • Avoid complaining.
  • Practice mindful awareness on a regular basis.
  • Do things that make you feel positive.
  • Be part of a positive group.
  • Create a mission statement on what gives you meaning and hope in your life

To learn more check out this handout on “The Healing Power of Hope and Optimism” https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/veteran-handouts/docs/HealingPowerHopeOptimism_Final508_07-25-2019.pdf

Each of us has the power to impact our well-being. Whole Health offers the skills and support you need to make the changes you want. The Circle of Health can get you started with self-care resources to live a happier life: https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/circle-of-health/index.asp


Marc Castellani, Ph.D., NBC-HWC, is the Whole Health Clinical Education Coordinator for the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation.

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Published on Jun. 8, 2020

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