Living in the Now—Being Present
Reduce your anxiety, increase your productivity, and feel happier by learning to live in the moment.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “be present,” and you may have dismissed it as something that’s not for you.
What does “being present” mean? It means focusing on everything that is happening at this very second. For example, if you’re in front of a computer, you’re not thinking about your vacation, your car troubles, or you’re thinking about the chair you’re sitting on, the feel of your fingers on the keyboard, your breathing, and the ambient sounds around you. Everything that is happening right now is the only thing you’re concerned with.
If the thought of being present is starting to stress you out, it’s because you’re likely used to thinking about the future or the past. For instance, if you’re sitting in a chair in a waiting room at the doctor’s office, you’re probably not thinking about the chair or the sounds around you. You’re thinking about the impending appointment and what the doctor’s going to say about that rash. This is natural.
The problem is that this is also a huge cause of anxiety. If you’re thinking about things that haven’t happened yet or have already happened, you have no control over them, and that makes your body and mind panic.
Related: How Chronic Stress Affects Your Body
Living in the moment can be uncomfortable, and it takes practice, so don’t expect to be a master at it. Here are three easy ways to get started:
While you may have learned to breathe, you may not be breathing mindfully. When you don’t focus on your breathing, you’re missing out on a powerful tool for lessening anxiety. By focusing on your breathing, you’ll be more aware of when your mind shifts and recognize when to bring the focus back to the present. This will help you become more grounded and appreciate the world around you.
Yoga is too powerful of a tool to ignore. It incorporates breathing and stretching to train both body and mind to stay present. For example, during a yoga class, your teacher will gently remind you to bring back a wandering mind to the present. You can keep trying different classes until you find one you like, or practice yoga poses on your own at home. While there are different types of yoga, all of them focus on breathing.
Meditation is a surefire way to become grounded. If you’re new to meditation practice, it can be very awkward, but keep at it—it will become easier. You can start by finding a quiet space, closing your eyes, and dedicating time to focus on your breathing. Yes, deep breathing is actually a form of meditation. There are even guided meditations that you can try. Develop consistency and you’ll notice your ability to get grounded and stay present improves with each practice.
Living in the moment is a way to improve the quality of your life, decrease your anxiety, and appreciate what’s happening around you.