There are few moments in modern lives where we’re in a situation where we can truly stop, breathe and live in the moment, appreciating our surroundings, our emotions and our being as they are. This middle ground between the reactionary and outward focus we usually project on the world and the inward thinking and grounding of meditation is hard to achieve; but always worth it.

It’s very easy to set aside the time for yourself, be it an hour for a yoga class, twenty minutes for a bubble bath or thirty seconds for some breaths, but only do so with the focus of somehow ‘improving’ yourself. Yet your whole life need not fit into the two categories of ‘dealing with stuff’ or ‘making stuff better’ and indeed the former is only dealt with most efficiently when you are whole, you are healthy, you are of sound mind and you are able best to support others. Realistically, if you’re struggling to take time out for yourself without forcing either the time itself or an end result, you’re doing it wrong – but we’ve all been there.

To negate this feeling of “I should be relaxed and like, finding myself, right now” and not gaining

anything from it, instead stop. Breathe. Clear your head. And drink in what’s around you. This could be on a walk around a park, in the garden, or even just looking outside as you open your curtains to the day ahead. There’s no need to put a time limit on it, and no need to set a goal. Just breathe and observe, and if you can, clear yourhead.

We all make time in our diaries for appointments, coffee dates and errands. Yet how many time slots do you set aside for ‘stopping, staring, breathing, doing nothing’? Likely, none. Try it. Even if your calendar inevitably fills up with other things, someone insists they can only see you at this time and other jobs run over, keep this time slot for stopping, staring and breathing. And do it. You can leave your head, your mental anguish, your stress and your priorities aside, just for this short sharp burst of time. Walk away, and breathe.

Intentionally adding in time for self-care in your day can be as simple as marking it as ‘busy’ (you need not share with others what you’re busy doing, if you’d prefer not to) and keeping it non-negotiable. This time is sacred, and just as important as your meetings and errands and assignments. If others are likely to see your diary, write ‘closed for renovations’ or even ‘renewal in progress’! Every human needs some time out – and becomes as a better human as a result of actually taking it.

Taking time out of your busy day/week/month/life is important, but there’s really no need to focus on filling that time with an improvement activity; particularly if you haven’t found an activity that feels right for you. There’s no need to force it! Pause time is just as important and as valuable as self-care motions are. It gives you the opportunity to recalibrate, balance yourself and become refreshed, reinvigorated and ready… for anything. Your mental, physical and spiritual health can all benefit from pausing and breathing – with no Instagram-worthy yoga poses, meditation chants or smoothie recipes required.

Doing what’s right for you, when it’s right for you, with what you have and the situation or

circumstances you’re in will always be more beneficial to you than pushing something that doesn’t come naturally. Give yourself permission to be you, to do you, and to enjoy you. Finding your grounding amongst your surroundings – whatever they may be – is a blessing, and one we can all enjoy.

Carina Lawson is the founder of Ponderlily, a UK-based brand that creates beautiful, environmentally-conscious planners for mindful living. For more information about Ponderlily please visit