“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you will ever have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
– Eckhart Tolle
We’ve been talking about learning to be in the present moment. It’s a renewed focus for many due to the seemingly overwhelming stresses of the past year. 2020 has been a culmination of stress for most people. Our stress buckets are full and let’s face it…stress causes illness. It causes chronic illness and it can impact your immune system and make you more susceptible to COVID19.
So talking about mindfulness, being in the present moment, and stress is all well and good but nothing really happens until you DO something.
Let’s look at some different types of activities and habits you can implement into your day to help begin developing living in the moment.
- Yoga. It’s probably not surprising to hear that yoga is an excellent habit to get into to connect with the present moment with less stress. Yoga helps you practice mindfulness by having your focus on your breath. When you focus on your breath you are forced to be in the present. You don’t have to sign up for a class or pay big money. All you need is a few minutes and a little space. Google “Best Free Yoga” and you’ll discover a wealth of resources.
- Laugh as much as possible. Laughter releases tension and relaxes our muscles. I try to look for funny things as I”m driving (boy have I seen some weird and hysterical things). I also enjoy podcasts with comedians. My favorite is Iliza Shlesinger – https://www.iliza.com/podcast. She never fails to make me laugh.
- Relax. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes. Meditate for one minute. Close your eyes and count to a million. When you relax your mind calms and your body releases the tensions from those pesky things that worry you throughout the day.
- Be grateful. Count your blessings and ask for grace to get through the day. Feel gratitude for what you have and for the stress in your life. After all, if you didn’t have stress, you aren’t living.
- Smile. You’ll be surprised by how just changing your expression can change your whole attitude. A smile helps you change your attitude, giving you a positive outlook. This leaves you calmer and better able to deal with life’s little annoyances. Negativity only brings you more negative actions.
- Sit quietly in the morning. Morning is the perfect time to begin your day with mindfulness. Instead of rushing through your morning routine take a few minutes to sit and be thankful for the day. Journal, meditate or just concentrate on breathing.
- Spend time outside whenever possible. A simple walk around your neighborhood, visiting a local park or take a hike on a nice trail. These are all great environments for getting in touch with nature. Connecting with nature helps you ground yourself and get in the present moment. Observe what you see, smell, feel and hear while clearing your mind.
- Focus on a single task at a time. Many of us have been taught to multitask to get things done. But when you divide your attention among several things, you end up making mistakes, rather than the best job, or not finishing everything. Instead focus on the one task at hand. When you are done with it, take a short break and then move onto the next one. It’s more relaxing and mindful way to do your activities.
- Feel your feelings. Part of being in the preset moment means being in touch with how you feel. Whether you feel excited, happy, sad, angry, jealous or some other feeling, allow yourself to feel it. Then be mindful of how you react to the feelings.
- Get creative. Do something every day that uses your creativity. Spending time doing what you enjoy helps your stay in the present moment. And creative outlets are great at helping relieve stress. Draw, paint, build or take photographs or whatever gets you being creative.
- Take part in physical activities you enjoy. Being active in activities you are passionate about puts you in a state of mindfulness. Include some kind of physical activity you are passionate about in your plans, daily if possible. It could be a game of basketball, soccer, surfing or cycling. It could be baseball, handball, or a round of golf.
- Perform simple Acts of Kindness to others. Hold open a door, let another in line ahead of you at the grocery store. Buy flowers for a friend. Send an encouraging card or letter. None of these will take much time, but each makes you feel good and more aware of others.
- Dance to some lively music. Dancing relaxes your body while having the added benefit of loosening your muscles and helping you release stress. Feel into the motions, the beat of the music and how it makes you feel. Can’t dance? Just move your body. No one is judging so let go of your inhibitions and boogie.
- Do Nothing. This may be the hardest thing to do. But try it. Just sit quietly for five minutes. Try to clear your mind. Watch kids play. Doodle. Just don’t make lists of what you need to do. This is a great exercise to do to help clear your thoughts and just be in the moment.
- Act like a kid and play. Do something that may seem silly. Color in a coloring book. Do a hook rug or a paint by numbers. Jump rope or bounce a ball
- Keep a journal. Write down what is bothering you as well as what you are grateful for. Journaling can be a great way to get yourself back into the present. It helps you organize your thoughts and feelings. It’s a great way to keep track of what’s causing your stress and to work through the issues.
- Spend time working on a hobby you enjoy. Try knitting, photography, scrap booking, gardening, fishing, or painting. Take-up baking or gourmet cooking. Whatever you want to explore, make sure it’s something you enjoy and not something that will add more stress to your life.
- Take a long bath. Fill the tub with scented essential oils surrounded by lit candles and your favorite soothing music. Let your mind wander. Afterwards, wrap yourself in fluffy towels, moisturize all over and blow dry your hair. Give yourself a manicure and a facial. You’ll emerge a totally relaxed diva.
When you begin developing daily habits that help you stay in the present moment, you begin feel more relaxed, in focus and in tune with yourself and the world around you.
Each day take time to implement something that helps you stop and focus on the moment. When you are more mindful and present, you will feel like you have more control over your life.
Be sure to implement self-care as a part of your mindfulness habits. The first step in any plan to be more in the present moment begins with a better, healthier you. This can include relaxing in an essential oil bath, reading motivational books or simply renewing your spiritual connection daily.
Try to find time to fit in exercise every day. This can be as simple as a short walk around the block or working in your garden. Join the gym, take-up a team sport, or begin dancing. The important thing is the find a way to get movement into your day that allows you to focus on the moment.
No matter what new daily habits you develop to stay in the present moment you will begin to notice less stress. Your body, mind and emotions will be more relaxed, and you’ll begin to notice that life feels more manageable, more enjoyable.