How many of us have been told some form of the phrase “Just live in the moment!” or “Be present!” with little to no explanation of what that means or how exactly to do that? Living in the moment can be defined as being fully attentive to the present experience. Living in the moment does not come naturally because we often find ourselves caught living in the past or worrying about our future.
The push and pull of getting stuck in the trap of past or future thinking can certainly leave you feeling overwhelmed and downright exhausted. Taking time to intentionally live in the present can reduce anxiety, improve mood, distract from ruminating thoughts, and reduce stress. The holiday season is upon us and it is even more important to discuss the concept of living mindfully during this busy season when your plate is likely to be even more stacked than usual. Are you wondering what this looks like? Read along for some tips on how you can start to live in the moment this holiday season!
1) Practice Meditation
The art of meditation is rooted in learning how to be fully present in your body and mind so it is a very fitting skill to mention in this blog related to living in the moment. Meditation requires some patience and may take time to get used to but it will get easier the more you practice it much like any skill. There are many apps, including Headspace, and free guided meditation videos on Youtube that can serve as a starting point for educating you further on the practice of meditation and will navigate you step-by-step on how to turn inward and pay attention to your body and your breathing. Try to set aside roughly 5 to 10 minutes each day to practice this skill and take note of how it feels.
2) Identify When to Monotask vs. Multitask
As a society, we are constantly surrounded by many distractions and we typically have a million and one tasks to attend to at any given moment. We often find ourselves multi-tasking in an attempt to get everything done. Picture yourself lounging while scrolling through Facebook, half-listening to your partner tell you a story about their work day, thinking about what groceries you need to pick up for the next week, and watching the latest episode of your favorite show. Once you take a second to slow down, you realize you have no clue what your partner was saying to you, you aren’t sure what groceries you need, and you can’t remember any context from the show you were watching.
Multi-tasking is a regular part of our routine and it can be helpful or harmless at times such as when you are listening to an audiobook while folding laundry to help pass the time. However, at times, multi-tasking can increase stress and decrease the quality of the work being done or interactions that you are having with others. It is important to be mindful of times when it may be more beneficial to focus on just one task. Examples of scenarios when it may be helpful to monotask include completing an important work project, engaging in intentional quality time with family, or engaging in a self-care practice. A few tips for prioritizing monotasking include identifying what task you wish to focus fully on, honoring your limits and creating boundaries surrounding your time, and reducing distractions.
3) Take a Social Media and Technology Break
Speaking of distractions…social media and technology! Have you ever gotten on your cell phone and found yourself cycling through various social media accounts and notifications…and before you know it, an hour has gone by? I am guilty as well and I often feel frustrated afterward when I notice how much time was lost that could have been better spent elsewhere. Find creative ways to step away from the phone. There are settings on most smartphones where you can silence all alerts, except for specific emergency contacts, which can be a useful tool to keep your phone from lighting up and gaining your attention when a new alert comes through. You can also choose to leave devices in a different room when you are preparing for bed, sitting at the table to eat a meal, spending quality time with family, or in other instances where you wish to be fully present.
4) Practice Acceptance and Gratitude
The final tip for living in the moment includes practicing acceptance and gratitude. Practicing acceptance includes taking note of what you can control and what you cannot control and coming to terms with that. Draw two circles on a piece of paper. For the outer circle, label it “I cannot control” and for the inner circle, label it “I can control”. Take time to consider what is in your control and what is out of your control. This helps to provide a visual representation of this concept, increases your awareness, and can allow you to begin the process of learning how to let go of things that are not in your control.
Comparison culture has been a significant struggle for many since social media has risen. We hop onto our phone and see the shiny new car a friend got, the vacation that a close family member recently went on, and the list goes on and on. We find ourselves wishing that we had those things and focusing on the things that we don’t have which takes us out of the present moment. We might find that we are missing out on the things that we DO have chasing a life that is not ours. Try to practice gratitude and appreciate the things in your life that you do have. Need tips on how to practice gratitude in your day-to-day life? Check out our blog titled “Living In Gratitude” for suggestions!
Prioritizing living in the moment helps you remain grounded in the here and now and allows you to truly savor your experiences. Becoming aware of how much you have been caught up in the past or hyper-focused on the future, is the first step in learning how to live mindfully in the moment. Focus on these tips this holiday season and see the difference in your interactions with those around you and how you perceive this holiday’s experiences.
If you need assistance with learning how to live in the moment, our counselors at Natural Balance Counseling are ready to walk alongside you and provide support. Reach out to us through our contact page to schedule a free 15-minute consultation to see if we would be a good fit for you and to learn more about our services!