Right now you find yourself with all the time in the world, yet you can’t focus on the time you have right now. You can’t be in the present. Your mind is preoccupied with all the other moments of time. It wanders to the uncertain future or even to what you’re going to eat for dinner. You worry about all the time you’re wasting, like what did you do in the morning? You’re frustrated. You’re overwhelmed. You’re lost.
In moments like these, it’s particularly useful to become mindful. You might even know that. You want to pull yourself into the present moment because that’s all that you have, but it’s hard to do. In times of particular distress, when you just can’t focus your attention on the now, you get even more upset with yourself. Stop. Take a breath. Set your intention: I will be present.
Then, try these methods below to help ground you and be in the present if you are struggling to be mindful…
Move with Intention
Slow everything down. When people become agitated about the past or future, they rush all of their movements in this desperate urge to get to a future point in time where they no longer feel this way. Out of anticipation or a need to distract themselves, we become impulsive. Hurrying means we are trying to get somewhere other than where we already are. So slow yourself. Start to move with intention and enjoy every action you take.
Are you typing too fast? Slow it down and feel the keys gently pressed down under your fingers. Are you getting up too abruptly? Take your time, letting each bone and muscle fall into place one at a time. Even when scratching an itch or chewing, take your time.
When people are nervous or anxious, they become a blur of quick little motions. This is the cause and effect. To remedy this, switch the cause and effect. If you make grander gestures with languid movements, you will feel more at peace.
(Bonus tip: I like to wear accessories and nail polish as they emphasize each movement I make, making it easier to notice and appreciate.)
Dive Into Your Other Senses
This exercise is actually common for mindfulness, but it can be easy to forget. If your mind is elsewhere, you aren’t noticing your surroundings. Take this moment to really notice them, using all of the senses you have. You may want to focus on one at a time. You can use your sight to view the texture of the blanket on your lap. You can use your sense of touch by slowly pulling your fingers down your arm. You can even shut down one sense to amplify the others, like closing your eyes to smell the spring flowers or listen to the birds chirping. There are always background smells and noises that people don’t notice.
The only way you know you are alive is through various senses. They remind you that you are alive in this moment.
Be in the Present with a Loved One
A loved one can be pets, a significant other, or a child. Let’s start with pets because I find this especially helpful for me as a future dog lady.
Pets, particularly dogs, can be great role models for being in the present moment wholeheartedly. Whatever they feel they fully feel to the best of their abilities. When they’re having fun, they’re all in, so when you’re with them, you feel the same way. Time seems to slow down when you are with your pet, giving them your full attention. Whenever I stop and watch my dog sleeping, I feel so at peace. I naturally start to see every detail of his face and how his belly goes up and down as he breathes. I pet him gently and feel the softness of his fur. I can lose myself in that love and affection for a long time (until he gets up and starts whining for his food).
But this applies to people you love, too. You may roll over to see your significant other sleeping peacefully or watch your child playing and suddenly feel so much love. You will find yourself in a heightened state of mindfulness and happiness.
Fully Immerse Yourself in a “Distraction”
This may seem counterintuitive, but if you distract yourself the right way, you could actually immerse yourself in the present moment. Distraction has a bad rep—and for good reason—but it isn’t all bad, especially during periods of distress when there’s nothing you can do within your control. We’re all in one such period right now, so it’s okay to take a step back and dive into something.
To do this in a way that would be beneficial to you, pick something with purpose and engage fully. These days, I’ve been diving into various hobbies or skills I want to work on. For example, I’ve always loved sketching portraits. When I engage in a new portrait, I am all in. You can also have this experience with a really good book, game, or movie. If you are able to put your whole mind into it, the concept of time will evaporate. You will simply be enjoying the now. Don’t get stuck in this moment too long, but allow yourself to really enjoy something.
Find the Right Influence
What I found particularly helpful for me is watching other people live their lives—but not in a creepy way. I have full permission because these people post their lives online. If you refer to my last post on healing YouTube vloggers, you will know what I’m talking about. When I see how they live and how they do their actions with intention, I start to see my own actions in an almost out-of-body experience. Then, I naturally move with more intention.
There are many different types of vloggers out there, as you can see in my last post. But sometimes, it even helps to watch gamers. I like how they click their mouses, write notes, or talk to their viewers. Find whatever influencer or entertainer you need in the moment, soak yourself in the vibe or ambience of their videos, and copy that.
Journal, Journal, Journal
One reason you have a hard time being mindful is that your mind is full of too many other things. Did that line make me cringe? Yes. Am I going to use it anyway? Hell yeah. It’s a good line. But it’s also true. Release what is holding your mind captive so you can refocus on what is around you and what your life is like right now rather than how it can be or how it might be, how it could’ve been or how it shouldn’t be. Get those negatives out of here by putting them on paper.
Move Your Body, Calm Your Mind
Do grounding exercises. Great ones are yoga and meditation. I have mentioned journaling and meditation, particularly guided meditation, multiple times before. These are fairly common, but I’ve recently also put yoga into my weeks. I used to say I hate yoga, but I’ve decided to change that narrative and try to reframe my perspective, and thank goodness for that! I have found it useful.
Remove Your Clocks
If possible, get rid of the concept of time altogether in your house. Instead, let the sunlight and day guide you. If there is plenty of sun wherever you are, you’ll be able to notice how the shadows change in your house. If there isn’t, you might feel lost about time, but this can be helpful, too, like you have all the time in the world or time doesn’t even matter right now.
Now that you have a few ways to be in the present moment, now is the time to do so. You may have tried some of the above tips, but I believe that some other ones are less common or easy to forget, like slowing down your movements, being with a loved one, and watching others be mindful.
I hope that these tips help and you are well on your way to living your life the way you want! If you know someone who could also use a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, share this post with them so they, too, can slow down and ground themselves in the present.