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Slowing down may hold benefits

Stopping can be a gift: Dunedin clinical counsellor Peter Frost

People who overwork may benefit from slowing down during the Covid-19 household isolation, even though initially we don’t see it this way.

Making an effort to “still our bodies and still our minds” will require time, Dunedin clinical counsellor, Peter Frost, says.

“Not only will we feel better, we may actually live longer.”

Research shows the negative and even deadly effects of overworking on health. Learning to rest may save lives, he says.

He observes that during the isolation period, people who usually overwork should continue working from home if possible, maintain routines and exercise.

And then add to it this new skill called resting.”


Thirty years ago, Peter wrote and presented the Time to Live programme. For more than two decades, it has been running in Otago companies, schools, local bodies, the prison and university; and may soon be adopted nationally.

At present, the clinical counsellor’s job continues by phone or other media, including with people who normally overwork and are being forced to slow down because of the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 measures. Some are working from home, others can’t.

“Having to stop will raise anxiety,” he says.

Those who’ve been overloaded are finding it difficult to change the pace.

He advises not slowing down at first, but instead adding the element of rest to our lives.

This may result in initial feelings of irritation, reaction and a struggle to get our brains to quieten down. He notes this is generally a western phenomenon.

Those learning to still their bodies and minds won’t find this natural, so need to practise and persist, he says.

For people without a job at present, Peter suggests activities which stimulate in the same ways as work does. While this is easier for office than manual workers, he gives the example of a road worker rebuilding his or her driveway.

Regarding rest, he says it can be fruitful to encourage the entire household to stop and have quiet time at the same time, say for an hour.

“Families can be encouraged to create a new culture.”

Stopping or being still is a strong aspect of the well-recognised Time to Live programme. Peter says rest is relevant during this Covid-19 prevention season.

“It may be that we can see the ‘stopping’ as a gift and not an imposition.”

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