Six Ways to be Present in your Life
Every day is a whirlwind for most people, especially if you have kids. Do you ever find yourself in a conversation with someone or on a conference call and there’s that awkward moment of silence where you realize it’s your turn to respond and you can’t remember a single thing that was just said? Or how many times have you sat down on your couch at night (finally) with a book in your lap and you read the first page 3 times and still have no clue what it said?
Our minds are constantly reeling. Planning the next day (or minute), thinking about what we didn’t do and need to do, worrying about a sick kid or parent, packing kids lunches, trying to squeeze in a gym trip, paying the bills…it’s literally never ending. It’s sad when you get to the end of the week and barely remember anything because you were so busy.
There are a lot of ways to help organize our busy lives but I want to focus now on just being present. I’m certainly no expert at this and have to consciously think about these things and make an effort on a daily basis. But sometimes, just stopping to think about being present, will bring you to a more present place.
1- Focus on Your 5 Senses: While we use our senses all day every day, we very rarely are able to actually experience our senses because of our busy lives. All it takes is actually thinking about your senses as you’re using them. When you eat, think about the taste of the food you’re eating, when you smell that glass of red wine, actually think about the smell, don’t just do it because you think you’re supposed to. :) When you’re in the shower, think about how the hot water feels and don’t think about anything else, even if just for 30 seconds. You’ll be surprised at how these short moments of attention can calm you and bring you into the present.
2- Listen. This will not only help you, but it will help with all of your relationships: When in a conversation, look at people (if you can) and listen to the words they’re speaking. The minute your mind wonders, push that thought aside. Force yourself to be present in every conversation you have, whether it’s a friend, your spouse, your kids, your boss, or a co-worker.
3- Sleep. Sleep is SO underrated. Many articles and even entire books are devoted to the importance of sleep and its affect on your life. Getting the right amount of sleep (consistently) and going to bed and waking up at the same time each day/night is immensely important to your ability to function and be present in your life. Studies have even shown that sleep affects fat loss!
4- Let Go. There are too many things that bog down our minds and our hearts from bigger events such as a failed relationship to the fact that you can’t keep up with the laundry. Repeatedly tell yourself that you are not defined by the dishes in your sink, the pile of laundry waiting to be folded, or the fact that your marriage failed. Sure, these affect us and that’s natural, but carrying burdens with you no matter how big or small is bad for the soul. Take a deep breath, relax, do 10 minutes of yoga, go for a walk, laugh with your kids, do anything that takes your mind off of these little things that eat away at you. If you have a hard time with this, perhaps you need to devote an hour to creating a plan to tackle one of these issues. Often, just owning it and coming up with a plan of attack is enough to alleviate stress about that particular situation.
5- Get More Oxygen. That sounds weird, right? What I mean is focus on getting more oxygen into your system by deep breathing in a relaxation mode, as well as through exercise. The influx of oxygen into your system relaxes, reduces tension, and relieves stress. All of these things are important in your goal of becoming present in your life.
6- Slow Down. Unless you’re legitimately late for a meeting or a doctor appointment, slow down. Stop and take a moment to think about whether the speed at which you blow through life is really benefitting you in any way. Often, it just gives you a sense of urgency that results in stress and anxiety and certainly doesn’t allow you to be present in any moment. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule but generally speaking, we can be more productive and happy if we’re a bit more relaxed and thoughtful about the way we move, emotionally and physically, throughout the day.
Cultivating a practice of being present can help you reduce stress and anxiety, and e more productive, happy, and relaxed in your life. The tips above are simple, easy things you can do to clear some of the clutter out of your mind so that you can become more physically and emotionally aware in your daily activities.