It can be difficult to live in the present moment. Between thoughts of the past and worries about the future, it can be hard to stay in the now. I know for me I am almost always thinking about what I have to get done or plans I want to make in the future, whether it be in two days, a week or months from now. While there is nothing inherently wrong about reflecting on the past or making plans for the future, it can make it hard to enjoy the present moment. However, learning to live in the present and being more mindful can help benefit relationships, productivity, and your overall mental health and well-being.
So, how can we learn to be more present?
1. Limiting multitasking. This one is personally difficult for me to do. I am someone who will listen to a podcast while doing a crossword or painting with the TV on in the background. While this isn’t inherently a “bad thing,” it may make it harder to focus on one task consistently and be as productive, especially if what you are working on is an important work project or studying for an exam.
In cases such as these (and ones similar), it could be more beneficial to give your full energy and attention to one project at a time. In fact, it has been stated that if you are fully focused on what is happening at that very moment, you are more likely to better remember details in the long-term.
2. Reduce distractions. This one goes along with the “limiting multitasking” and can be just as difficult to avoid. Also, sometimes these distractions are ones out of our control, like a crying child, a noisy co-worker or pets jumping on furniture (speaking as a cat owner here). However other distractions are more easily avoidable, such as not looking at your phone or keeping the TV off (if you work from home). For me, I put my phone away or enable the “Do Not Disturb” feature, as to not be tempted to check my social media or text messages.
3. Practice mindfulness. The idea of ‘mindfulness’ can present in many different ways. It can look like implementing mindful meditation, practicing deep breathing exercises, as well as simply being around of your surroundings. As mentioned prior, we tend to spend a lot of time multi-tasking. Not only can this impact our attention spans, but it can make it hard to notice what is happening around us. Some ways to solve this is to try and avoid watching anything when you eat your next meal or, when taking a walk, try not to listen to music and just listen to the sounds of nature. This doesn’t mean it has to be an all the time occurrence, but it can help to increase awareness of the present moment.
Other ways to live in the present moment is taking a break from technology, journaling and getting outside into nature and for some exercise, such as a nice walk. Learning to live more in the present can have many benefits. It can help improve our ability to focus, reduce overthinking and help us savor present moments and experiences, instead of ruminating too much on the past or future. No matter what you choose to do, whether it be limiting distractions or practicing mindfulness, try living more in the here and now and see what happens!
Staff Blogger: Mollie Clupper
Mollie Clupper works for MHA as a Communications and Support Specialist. Using her own experiences, she wants to help bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with loved ones.