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The Week That Was: Pause For Thought

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With a bite in the air that signalled the end of summer far more clearly than calendar pages being flipped, the past week has been another of celebration for Britain's sporting heroes.

From 'Hurricane Hannah' bagging Team GB's first Paralympic track and field gold on Friday, thanks to a record-breaking 100m performance, to the emotionally charged appearance of 7/7 survivor Martine Wright appearing on the volleyball court on the same day, with her No7 jersey a stark reminder of what she's endured to get to this position, the first few days of the Paralympics have provided all the high drama they promised, and more.

The Olympics and Paralympics have not only provided this summer with an alternative news agenda and a whole new crop of household names to cherish, but also taken people out of their day-to-day lives.

Cheering along with millions of other fans in a packed, electrically charged stadium, or even just screaming at the TV with your family at home has to be one of the ultimate ways to unplug from life's usual day-to-day stresses. It's pretty hard to be worrying about work deadlines when you're jumping up and down in sheer excitement at 10 athletes thundering around a track at lightening fast speed. And it's exceptionally difficult to panic about impending mortgage rate increases when you're spellbound by the skills of a world-class equestrian Paralympian who controls their horse with just their voice.

Whether the Games this summer really will inspire a new generation to pick up a tennis racquet, join their local athletics club or try judo for the first time, it has certainly encouraged everyone to take some time out from their computer screens, which can never be a bad thing - and I speak, or type as the case may be, as someone pretty much permanently attached to their Blackberry.

Being constantly 'plugged-in' is something nearly all of us can relate to, especially as the recession signals longer hours and lower wages for those still with jobs to go to.

In the same week it was discovered women are more likely to be addicted to Facebook, Twitter and online shopping to men, author Zadie Smith added a note in the acknowledgements of her latest novel, NW, thanking Freedom© and Self Control© for 'creating the time' she needed to write.

These two apps, and there are a handful of others just like them, control the amount of time you can access the internet, or certain sites within it, and are proving something of a hit with authors easily distracted when at their computer screens.

It's certainly an apt solution for those balancing the benefits and downfalls of having the web at their fingertips as they research and plan their work of fiction, and slightly less extreme than author Jonathan Franzen who apparently wrote part of his last novel wearing earmuffs and a blindfold.

For those who read rather than write, they can also be a good way of ensuring they get stuck into a good book, albeit - if the latest figures are anything to go by - that book is being read on a digital device rather than old-fashioned paper.

According to Amazon, there's a 'reading renaissance' this year that has as much to do with the ease of downloading books to your Kindle, as it does the fact everyone and their aging aunt has read Fifty Shades of Grey.

Whether it's book reading, Olympic watching or sports playing, taking time out has got to be a good thing. Unless you're David Cameron planning your cabinet reshuffle that is.