Somehow we have progressed into a society that thrives on busyness, work, and chores. We cram our schedules full to the point that at the end of the day we are exhausted, grumpy, and totally disconnected from the beauty in our lives. With a life such as this, we end up missing the little moments that matter most.
All of this rushing and stressing leads to more serious mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. An easy way to remedy this is by remaining present throughout all of our ever-important tasks. This can be difficult at first, but with a bit of practice it will come more easily. Here are five easy ways to stay in the present for a calmer and more meaningful experience in life:
1. Do a Body Scan
If you’re new to mindfulness, then a body scan will do you wonders. It is a structured exercise that you (yes, you!) can do anywhere and with hardly any guidance at all. Though the exercise is quite simple, it heavily relies on the basic tenets of mindfulness.
You can easily find a guided body scan online, which will help you begin your practice. With a few guided sessions, you will easily be able to do the body scan on your own. Adapt it to your surroundings so that you can use it to bring you back to the present whenever needed.
2. Focus on the Five Senses
If you get carried away at some point during your day, then pause what you’re doing and focus on the five senses. In about just five minutes, you can bring yourself back to the present moment with an easy exercise of noticing the five senses. Check in with each of the senses, one at a time.
Notice what you feel, whether it’s a breeze against your skin or the tickling of fabric. Pay attention to what you smell; perhaps it’s the pungent odor of your colleague or no odor at all. Assess the taste in your mouth and notice the different notes all around your mouth. Continue this way with each sense, thoroughly inspecting your experience in the moment.
3. Take a Deep Breath
A deep breath can immediately calm you down and reduce anxiety. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the body’s relaxation response. It does so by stimulating the vagus nerve, which lowers your natural stress response. Deep, abdominal breathing lowers the heart rate, relaxes the blood vessels, and brings the body back to homeostasis. The best part? You can do it anytime, anywhere.
4. Slow Down
Most of us rush through our days, zipping past people, through moments, and onto the next-best-thing without noticing so much as the person next to us as we do. If you find yourself rushing through your day, make the effort to slow down for just a few minutes. Take your time eating your lunch or give yourself a full, luxurious five minutes to drink your coffee in peace. By adding little moments like this to your day, you will be more present more of the time.
5. Narrate Your Actions
If you are really struggling with being present, then try starting small. A good way to do this is by narrating your actions. As you are preparing your meal, for example, quietly narrate each step. Approach your actions with a positive open regard that is free of judgement. Cutting the carrots, after all, doesn’t need a critic!
Mindfulness is not as difficult as it seems. In fact, it can be used all throughout the day in many different ways. Staying present throughout the day is one way to do it. Living mindfully can reduce depression and anxiety, as well as make you a more efficient worker. What’s not to love about that? Give these techniques a try and see how your world opens up.
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