I heard a quote the other day that goes something like this: “If we keep dwelling about the future, how can we enjoy the present?” It really struck a cord within me because it’s so true for the majority of us. We are always planning for tomorrow, next week or next year and so forth. And even when we are going through our day to day, we forget to take a moment and just breathe…to really enjoy our day and be present. Being in the moment and being completely conscious of what we doing instead of acting on robotic mode. So, here are some ways to be more present:
1. Minimize Multi-Tasking
We’ve began to start taking so much pride and joy in our abilities to multi-task. Oh, how many things can you do at once? Me? I can probably handle 3 or 4. Even as I sit here writing this post, I have the TV going. At work, I have a podcast or music on. We somehow need to capitalize on the limited amount of time we have by getting as much done and sometimes these tasks aren’t even required of us. The number one way to stay in the present is to minimize this whenever you can. When you’re doing one thing, try to cut out any distractions and other tasks so you can solely focus on what you are doing. You will feel more connected, especially if it’s some passion project. Take small steps and start with only some things in your life like when you eat dinner – focus on the food or your company!
2. Book Me-Time
Stemming from the go-go nature of modern society, we oftentimes forget to book in quiet or even me-time for ourselves. Instead, any free time that we have, we are “busy” crossing things on our to-do lists or spending it with friends. Quality time with ourselves is also so important. This is also one of the best ways to stay in the present. Block off time once a month, week or day to focus on yourself. You can do anything from spending 5 minutes alone reflecting, taking yourself to the movies, or taking a walk around the block. You will really start to feel in the moment and appreciate yourself.
3. Decrease Screen-Time
Probably one of the hardest ones for a lot of people out there. Social media, emails, work – all of it has transformed how technology transform our lives. Funny how we create these devices that in turn have the power to control us. Screen addiction is a real thing! And it does add to the constant distractions we already experience in addition to the whole multi-tasking thing. So often I see people at the dinner table eating while on their phones and “talking” to everyone else. Make some rules for yourself and screen time. Maybe no screens an hour before bed, no screens at the dinner table, no screens when you wake up…it will all make a difference because you will be able to see what’s around you.
4. Connect with Others
As important as taking time for yourself, make sure you block time off with close ones around you. It could be your SO, friends or family. Time with others is crucial to our mental health – human interaction can increase not only our moods but our mental state. These times can be a reminder for you to stay in the present and to enjoy the moment together. Put your screens down and think about how you can really enjoy being together then and there.
5. Pay Attention to your Surroundings
Paying attention in NYC is a must for me with all the constant bustling, but it doesn’t mean that I am constantly aware of my surroundings. Zoning out is natural and inevitable at times. But it’s important to make the effort to really stay present and pay attention to your surroundings. Know what is around you, really see what is happening and the world might slow down a little for you.
6. Reflect on the Day
So many things happen throughout our days right? Though they may be mundane, they can really add over over the weeks, months or even years. Taking time out of your day to reflect upon it can help you re-organize and stay in the present mindset. You only need a few minutes a day (or longer if you’d like) to think through the day. What went well? What didn’t? Can you change anything? Did you have a good day? They’re simple questions for you to answer about your life in the present.
Meditation is hard. It’s so hard to close out everything and to just focus on…nothing. I’ve tried it so many times and am still working towards it, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it at all. Integrate this into your lifestyle and really be in the moment and feel your sense of self in the present. Concentrating on our breathing and controlling our mindset (or attempting) can be so empowering. Meditation is probably the best way to learn how to fine-tune out the uselessness and focus on the present.
8. Create Rituals
Creating some form of ritual can be beneficial in staying in the present and not worrying about things you typically would worry about. For instance, create a scheduled bedtime routine and know that it’s something to follow every night. This can be your period on relaxing and such. Or you can try meal-prepping. This can relieve your stress of worrying about what to eat in the future. Having everything prepared and ready to go means you have time to be in the present. Create schedules and rituals that have alleviate your worries.
9. Start Journaling
Journaling has helped so many people with a variety of issues. From writing down your feelings to documenting your day to day life, journaling can be your life crutch. It doesn’t have to be elaborate at all – it can even be on paper! Take 5 minutes a day to just jot down whatever is on your mind. And tell yourself that after you get your thoughts down, if they were bringing you stress/worry before, that you have to let it go. I see it as letting your thoughts go so you can stop being weighed down from them and learn to be in the present.
10. Break Down Goals
Working towards goals are so important! I am all in for people having dreams and goals. But constantly thinking of the overarching dream/goal can be debilitating without present actionable steps. Break down your goals into steps that can be completed little by little. Actions that you can take in the present towards it. This can drastically help you feel as if your goals are coming closer and more reachable. You will be able to enjoy the entire process more because you are able to gain more successes throughout the journey!
11. Go with the Flow
Sometimes things don’t work out as you want them to. And that is okay. Or we have to learn that it’s okay. There will be times that you make a schedule and nothing is going with it…but you know what? Those are the exact moments you can learn to appreciate being in the moment and really learn how to deal with situations where life throws you lemons. Oftentimes the alternative is definitely not what we anticipated or remotely want, but it can be something that we can learn to accept. Go with the flow of things from time to time and learn to be in the present moment!
12. Feel Your Feelings
Happy, angry, sad….don’t suppress your feelings. They MATTER! They are who you are and being able to completely feel them in the present will prevent you from breaking down further down the line. I know all too well the times that I try to bottle up what I am feeling…but learn to just be in the moment and really FEEL your feelings. You are feeling this way for a reason…you can reflect upon that later – right now, let the feeling run it’s course! Being able to do this will allow you to be connected to yourself on a deeper level.
13. Listen and Express
Have you been in a conversation with someone and felt like they aren’t listening to a single word you are saying? Or you yourself are zoning out? And even further, what about those conversations where you are already thinking about the next thing to say before the person is even finished talking? These scenerios are so common and we’ve all experienced them. The next time you are interacting with someone, make a mental note beforehand to yourself and tell yourself to be really engaged. REALLY listen to what the other person is saying. The balance between listening and expressing can be so helpful in staying in the present with others.
14. Take Care of Mind and Body
When we are too boggled down with something, we tend to take it out on our minds and bodies…most of the time indirectly and unknowingly. Make a conscious effort to do something for your mind and body. It can be going to the gym and dedicating an hour or so just focusing on bettering you. When your body and mind feels good, you will overall feel good. Think about how you feel presently. Are you stressed? Tired? Weak? Then take action against it – you will think yourself later. How you feel in the present shouldn’t be pushed aside and dealt with later!
15. Celebrate the Lil’ Things
The majority of our life is made up of minuscule moments – ones that we will probably forget within a couple of weeks. But it’s those moments that together form how we got to where we are today. If something great or even mildly good happened in your life, take a moment to enjoy it. Delve into the moment and remind yourself that you are allowed to feel happy and to really FEEL what it’s like. The small moments matter and can really help to identify the moments you need to present.
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A million and one thanks for reading – until my next lil’ thought then!