Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life: Staying Present

Especially when life gets busy, I find it hard to stay focused. Instead of living in the present, I sometimes find myself planning for the future, or pondering things that happened in the past. In doing so, it's hard to be "here."

It's times like this where I really need to step back and relax (and this doesn't always come easy for me!) November flew by, and I'm not sure where I was for most of it. With the holiday season upon us, I'm more aware than ever that I want to be present for it.

While I'm no expert, I have a handful of ways that help me stay grounded and focused on the now.

Read before bed. It's my ritual to check my social media and emails before bed, and then again first thing in the morning. It's not a good way to start or end the day. If you have the same habit, try substituting 20 minutes of reading before bed. I've been doing so over the last few days and it helps calm my busy mind before bed. I actually find that I fall asleep much easier after reading versus interacting with my phone.

Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the morning with no distraction. I'm most "meditative" in the morning; most mornings, I'm awake for nearly an hour before I've spoken a word. The morning is a great time to let yourself wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and focus on the "now."

Take a bath. I think baths can be the cure for almost anything. Especially when you need to focus on staying present, a bath is a great way to relax both mentally and physically. But the key is having no distractions (i.e. your phone, a good book or even music). Be in silence and just be.

Breathe. Take a moment to sit down and focus on your breathing, taking deep inhales and exhales. Lower your heart rate and be still. The best part is that this can be done anywhere - at work, on the bus, in your apartment, at a restaurant, at the gym; just breathe.

Go on a walk. Nature is magic. Go outside, take a walk, sit on a park bench, go on a bike ride, lay in the grass. Be one with the outdoors.

Grab paper and a pen. Draw, doodle, write, anything. Just you, a pen and paper. Go for it.

Do yoga. This is a no-brainer. The combination of breathing, relaxing your body and focusing on you is the best medicine.

Count your blessings. Especially when life gets chaotic, being thankful gets put on the back burner. Focus on the good things in life, the people that matter to you, the experiences you cherish and your dreams and ambitions.

Relax, be present, be here.
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