Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on what’s right in front of you—like you’re not living in the present? Do you replay scenes from yesterday over and over, wishing you would’ve done something differently? Or maybe you obsess over your week’s to-do list and panic when you realize how much you need to get done in the future.
When we live in the past or in the future, we miss out on the moment that is happening right now. Living in these alternate realities can lead to stress, anxiety, and even depression.
What does it mean to stay in the present?
To stay in the present is to be FULLY focused on the moment happening right now. You are not fretting about the past or worrying about what might happen in the future. Instead, you let go of those uncontrollables and uncertainties and take hold of the moment that is happening right now. So, how do you stop your mind from racing so you can actually live in the present? Here are my top 3 tips for staying in the present. For more of my thoughts on this topic, check out my Youtube video here.
3 Tips for Staying in the Present
Practice mindfulness. Mindful.org defines mindfulness as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Basically, it is slowing down your brain and tuning into the senses you are experiencing right now. If that sounds difficult, one thing I always suggest is to try a mindfulness walk. Go for a walk and, instead of letting your mind race, tune into your senses. What do you see, smell, feel? Engaging your senses helps to bring you into the present moment and to connect to what’s around you. If thoughts come to you, acknowledge them, but then let them go. The more you tune into your senses—the sounds of the birds in the trees, the feel of the grass between your toes—the easier it is to let the thoughts go.
Breathe. Of course you’re breathing all the time, but most of us don’t stop to focus on and engage with our breath. Acknowledging and connecting with the breath has significant physical and mental health benefits. When you engage the breath, you help to slow down your nervous system and calm your stress response.
Be gentle with yourself. If mindfulness is new to you, it will probably feel uncomfortable at first. Our minds always try to wander, so it takes time to train ourselves to stay grounded in the present. As you are working toward mindfulness, it’s so important to be gentle with yourself. Let go of any judgment of yourself, and you will get there. The more you practice mindfulness, the easier it becomes to live in the present.
Would you like to become more present and stop missing out on your life? As a licensed counselor, I help my clients understand the root causes of their anxiety, and provide them with practical tools for living a more present, connected life. Book a consultation with me here!
The content found on Integrative Counseling and Nutrition Consulting platform is not intended to be a substitute for professional therapeutic advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your psychiatrist, therapist or other qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition.