In a world full of distractions, staying present is a struggle. There’s always a million things to do, look at, and pay attention to. There are so many times when I find myself watching a show, scrolling on social media, and eating at the same time. Sometimes it’s like I don’t even know how to function if I don’t multitask. For the past couple of months I’ve made it more of a priority to practice mindfulness. This first started when someone asked me what I had for dinner the day before and I couldn’t remember. At first I thought it was a little crazy that I didn’t remember but I brushed it off by reasoning that most people don’t remember small details like that anyway. I truly recognized that I had a problem when I would sit down at the end of the day and not fully remember the day behind me. I knew I worked, went to the gym, maybe talked to a friend or two, but I didn’t remember the details. It was like my life was rushing by and I wasn’t even aware of that it truly consisted of.
“All we have is now”
“The life in front of you is more important than the life behind you”
“Wherever you are, be all there”
“Forever is composed of ‘nows'”
In the society that we live in, living in the present moment takes effort. It’s not going to be so easy breezy that you one day decide what you want and then all of sudden you live that way and never look back. When I decided that I wanted to live more mindfully I knew that there were some lifestyle changes I would need to make. It was (and still is) extremely difficult for me to stay present. Many days my first instinct is to start scrolling on my phone as soon as I wake up. Even after months of working towards change, I still check my phone way more than I should. This isn’t an overnight change but if you are interested in improving your life and being more open and aware in the present moment, try this:
Less time on electronics
I find that when I spend excessive time on electronics I end up filling my brain with too much frivolous information. Social media is designed to appeal to short attention spans so when you spend most of your time on it you will find your attention span slowly dwindling. Spending too much time on my phone has also left me way too involved in other people’s lives instead of living my own. It’s refreshing to be more in touch with my own life. There’s no reason to get updates on someone else’s life until you’ve lived your own. I decided to have a rule with myself where I can’t check social media and see what other people are doing with their lives until I’ve done something with mine.
More time outdoors
If you haven’t allowed yourself to feel the wind through your hair and sun on your skin without having an electronic distraction, you’re doing yourself an immense disservice. There is absolutely nothing as calming as being present in nature. Whether you’re on the beach, in a forest, or in your room with your head sticking out the window, take time to breathe while you immerse yourself in nature. It is a natural stress reliever that will open up your mind and allow you to be more present. I used to always take walks while listening to music, now I appreciate leaving my headphones at home and watching the world around me. The first few times you do this you may find yourself getting lost in your thoughts. While that at times can be beneficial, it can always keep you from being present. I encourage you to take note of the world around you and notice all the little details of life, how the leaves blow in the wind, the sound of birds, the smell of the world around you. This sense of awareness will become a habit and you will soon find that you give this sense of attention to all that you see and observe.
Unlike men, not all journaling is created equally. What I mean is that journaling for consciousness and journalling for therapy are two totally different things. While both are great, if you’re journaling to be more present, spend less time analyzing your life and more time analyzing how you feel and what is happening around you and inside of you. This is great to do both in the morning and at night. Doing this has helped me to better understand my anxiety triggers because I am more conscious of how I feel when I am beginning to feel anxious. Ask yourself questions like “how does my body feel right now? What is the feeling in my stomach? What thoughts came to my head when I woke up? How does my head feel? Am I looking forward to the day ahead of me?” Also make note of any soreness, tightness, cramps, etc. This is the only body you will ever have, you may as well get to know it.
There is still work to be done but these changes to my daily routine have helped me to live more in the moment and therefore left me happier and more aware of the life I’m living. Now more than ever, it has become easy to be distracted by all the noise in the world. Free yourself from the nonsense and negativity by staying present and focused on what is real and true. How do you stay present?
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