Time to press pause button

St Francis Bay Freelance Journalist Beth Cooper-Howell puts a spotlight on the importance of taking some timeout, to avoid burnout


The trick to treating yourself well is to pretend, sometimes, that you’re someone else.

I did this recently, and just in time.

Being a journalist has perks. Insatiable curiosity about the human condition – and what’s new and #hash-tagging in the world – often leads me to nuggets of very useful information.

Last week, I researched and wrote an article about the vestibular system, which nobody has heard of, but which is rather important.

A day or two later, the vestibular topic surfaced during a mom-friend conversation, shedding light on a problem she’d been having with her six-year-old.

I love these nuggets, safely plopped where needed.

Until recently, I’d never gifted myself with an info-nugget. I have always erred on the side of caution, knowing that my interest in health, psychology and education, for example, leads me to hypochondria, or at least, obsessive Googling.

My doctor and I have honed our comedy script over the years, for this reason; he asks me to self-diagnose first, knowing that I’m going to list an outrageous number of potentially harmful conditions, based on “objective research”.

He knows how supercilious I am, and cures me anyway.

But a few weeks ago, I picked up a nugget and ran with it. Odd symptoms had been surfacing for months, and worsening. Given my penchant for self-diagnosis, and despite hypochondriac leanings, I knew that it was nothing serious, yet, but was silly enough to ignore the early warning signs.

Burnout is a real thing. I know, because I not only Googled it, but have witnessed it in others.

Although I have a clean bill of health, I knew that pounding heart rates, butterfly tummies, and dizzy spells were not simply a by-product of low blood pressure, or a passing busy week – they were symptoms of the hamster wheel onto which we’ve strapped ourselves, willingly, in order to function in an increasingly frenetic world.

So, I took a step back. I had to, because I know what happens next. Untreated stress and continued pounding of minds and bodies leads to a labyrinth of potentially dangerous diseases and conditions – I’ve written about it countless times.

CNN correspondent and family, career and life editor-at-large Kelly Wallace explains that our “modern mindset” compels us to pack in so much more, and more often, that we’re as much at risk of burnout as A-type, high-charged professionals in 24/7 careers.

“It’s the same story every weekend and week,” she says of her action-driven schedule involving two daughters and a dozen things to accomplish.

Senior data analyst Vanina Nikolova, a career mom, defines it as the idea of having to be a “superhero in everything you do” – and therein lies the problem.

If you’re not coping, or sense that your supersonic lifestyle is more pain than pleasure, check out for a moment.

Stop, or press pause, just for a few days, or even a month. Think of it as tough love – you’d make someone else do it, so why not you?

One thought on “Time to press pause button

  • March 1, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Beth, those of us familiar with Original Strength, call what you are talking about – Pressing RESET. Your comment about the vestibular system caught my attention, but the rest of the article is why we Press RESET. Thank you.


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