So much suffering comes from dwelling in a space that has already occurred (the past) or by worrying about what is to come (the future). Three little words, quite literally, are the answer to feeling more at peace:
Be here now.
So much easier said than done, I get it.
It can be a major struggle to be here now. There are so many things vying for our attention and pulling us away from what is right in front of us. It’s a common struggle to try to be present. Constantly doing can, over time, lead to feeling disconnected from what’s actually happening. In order to keep up, we go into autopilot mode, leaving us with little or no present awareness.
Everyone has their own level of challenge around what it takes for them to be present. It’s more difficult for some than others.
So what do we do about this?
There are boundaries we can set in order to keep our lives as balanced and present as possible. This takes some will, awareness, and self-discipline. Work is involved if you’re looking to grow into a more evolved you, but the work doesn’t need to be miserable. With some mindfulness, it can be satisfying and interesting.
In order to practice being more in the present, here are some tools to keep in mind:
1. Limit Your Social Media Intake
Social media can be a powerful platform to connect to others and to discover cool new things and places. In excess, however, it can cause some negative consequences (just like anything else that is used inappropriately).
Finding a balance with social media is essential to having a healthy life balance. Setting some boundaries in terms of how much energy you put toward social media each day may help you be more mindful of keeping a positive relationship with these tools. When your head is in your phone, you could be missing important life moments. You are definitely not “here now” when your attention is caught up in Facebook or Instagram.
Notice the feelings that arise when your energy is spent on social media. How do you feel? Are you comparing? Are you inspired? Do you feel filled up after seeing what’s out there? Or do you feel drained? What’s going on inside? Use this information to set some boundaries for yourself.
2. Give Yourself the Space You Deserve
Do something for yourself every day that’s for YOU. I understand there’s “no time,” but that is where the problem arises.
Do something for yourself every day that’s for YOU.
If you truly feel you cannot carve out 5 minutes of your day for you, remind yourself that you are worth some space. This might mean you need to say “no thanks” to something or someone. It’s okay to choose you, to pick yourself, to say “no” simply because you want some time.
I’ve had some people tell me in therapy how when they have nothing else to do, they feel obligated to say “yes” to any invitations that come along. Hear me out: Just because you have no schedule or planned-out event to attend, you can still make yourself the priority. Give yourself the gift of time. It’s healthy, it’s important, and it’s one way to reconnect with yourself.
3. Have a Self-Care Routine
Having a consistent self-care ritual that helps you feel on track and ready for your day is a trademark of many happy, centered people. It’s easy to get caught up in taking care of others, but unless you take care of yourself, it’s difficult to give of yourself to others.
Discover what self-care can look like for you. Is it exercise, reading, quiet time, a walk, yoga, a quiet breakfast by yourself, a swim? Try different things on in order to discover what fills you up, refreshes you, and gives you energy.
4. Remember: Less Is More
Be aware of how much you are signing up for and scheduling into your day. Slow down. I know I always feel a little off when I meet up with a person who has “fit me in.” I feel rushed, and I feel their anxious energy as they check the time constantly before bolting to their next scheduled activity. They are not “there” with me. In a way, I feel a bit cheated. If I show up “all in” and ready to be present and enjoy a rich conversation, I feel that I deserve that too. Not only does your busyness and rushing ways affect you, it can affect those around you.
Of course there are going to be times it seems impossible to find your calm in the present. That’s absolutely normal and okay. The point is to make an active effort to be more present each day. Try one or more of the strategies above. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing; progress is progress!
© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Kim Egel, MA, MFT, GoodTherapy.org Topic Expert
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.