Fair too often we are caught up in the busy schedule of life and wonder where did the day go?, or hasn’t that week flown by, or the summer will be soon over. This happens because you’re so busy in life just doing that you forget how to be.
At some point or the other, all of us have inevitably found ourselves wanting to just leave it all and go far away from all the rush, from all the noise and just be in peace with our own self.
There is too much rushing, too much achieving in this overly fast paced world. If you find yourself in such a position then it is actually reminding you that you need to slow things down and go slow with life. Step outside the rush.
Learning how to slow down in life is a challenge by itself, especially for those who seem to work non-stop, or those who feel guilty for taking a break as they think I could be doing this, or doing that.
But living in the fast lane comes at a price, that price is you’re missing out on your life. The time you spending planning, working, doing, rushing and all the other things that lead to hectic life, takes away living in the moment and experiencing what it truly feels like to be alive.
This is so profound, yet what is it to be alive? Although I cannot concretely answer that question for you, through my personal experience I have found that people feel the most alive when they are truly experiencing the present moment. Those times when you are able to slow down and pay attention.
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How to live in the Present Moment – Slow Down!
What is stopping you from living in the present moment?
Your mindset may hold certain beliefs that keep you stuck in the fast lane. These could come from personal experience, habits, things you’ve learned growing up or the pressure of society.
Take a step back and a moment to reflect on your mindset and your beliefs on why you shouldn’t be slowing down from a fast-paced life.
What do these beliefs mean to you?
Here are some examples of beliefs you may have about slowing down:
- If I take a break or slow down, I’m lazy
- Things won’t get done.
- I could be doing something else in the time I’m taking a break
- I need to be doing more to be more successful than Joe Bloggs next door, and the only way I can do that is by working harder- even if it stresses me out.
The ironic thing is that you will actually be more productive and efficient if you take breaks and pay attention to what you are doing in the moment. This is because living in the present moment increases your focus.
When you work yourself into the ground without no break, and constantly move from task to task, you are not fully living in the present moment and therefore are not fully engaged. As a result, you are living your life in auto-pilot mode.
This can result in two things happening:
- You are not fully focused; therefore, you’re not putting the best work into things. This is because you are just thinking about moving onto the next task.
- You are burning yourself out by never taking breaks or slowing down.
How can you live in the present moment?
While you’re rushing about from task to task, somebody else is living in the present moment and time is moving much slower for them. It is the same number of seconds ticking by, the same minutes and hours pass by, but it is your perception of those moments that is different.
Your perception is your reality, therefore if you find that you seem to be rushing through life then the answer lies in changing your perception. Some of that may originate in identifying and changing your anxious thoughts.
Additionally, you can practice Mindfulness by being aware of your senses (touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell) in the present moment. This is one of the most effective ways to truly bring you into experiencing this moment fully.
Try it now and pay attention to what is around you. Notice how you feel.
Below are some ideas of how you can stay in present moment.
Practice mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation simply means setting aside a certain amount of time every day to deliberately practice being in the present moment. It could be as little as five minutes or it could be as long as you want. The exercise is about accepting whatever you experience in the moment without judgment and without your mind wandering off to the past or future.
Your mind will inevitably wander off, especially at first. When this happens, just notice that it happened. Just noticing brings you back to the present because you become aware of what your mind is doing.
Focus on the Process
For many people, the biggest obstacle to living in the present is that we feel the need to plan for possible problems. This is especially true of people who tend to be anxious. Prying your attention from your worries feels a bit like taking your eyes off the road when you’re driving.
To overcome this resistance, focus on the process rather than the end result. Living in the present doesn’t mean you give up on the idea of progress but rather understanding that progress can only happen if you act on the present. So, for example, you can be engaged in writing down some recovery goals and some steps to get there. You’re planning for the future, but you’re actively engaged in that particular activity.
Use a grounding technique
A grounding technique is when you deliberately notice sensations in order to ground yourself in the present. You can do this as part of mindfulness meditation or just any time during the day when you find yourself preoccupied with worries or otherwise unable to concentrate.
A common grounding technique is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. You notice five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
This engages all of your senses and the mild complexity of the task keeps you cognitively engaged. However, you don’t have to go through this whole exercise to ground yourself. You can engage with any sensation. For example, you might notice the sensations in just your feet or you might notice the sensations of your breathing.
Write things down
One reason we often don’t live in the present is that we have something we feel is important that we have to remember. Maybe you have a meeting after lunch or you’re supposed to call your mom, or you have a great idea for your friend’s birthday present, and so on.
If you have to devote mental energy to remembering those things, they will take away your focus.
Instead, just write them down. If it’s an appointment, writing it down on a calendar or planner is always a good idea, but just writing a reminder on a sticky note is usually enough to get it off your mind.
Forget about the clock
Anyone who has ever had a job knows that the last 10 or 15 minutes of the workday are the longest. When you’re busy, you forget about time and focus on what you’re doing. When you start looking at the clock, you get restless. Time creeps by. You wish it were 20 minutes in the future and you were on your way home.
The same thing happens any time you’re too focused on the time. Part of your brain is always pulling you away from your task at hand to check the time.
Try forgetting about the clock. If you have to do something at a certain time and you’re afraid you’ll get carried away and miss it, set an alarm.
Distractions such as a smartphone or television can make it harder for you to focus on the present moment and take you down a black hole in your mind without you even realising it. Leave your phone in your car or put it on ‘do not disturb‘ to prevent distractions so you can be fully present and appreciate the things and people in front of you.
Give yourself reminders
Little reminders can be helpful so that you remember to slow down and pay attention. Whether it is a phone wallpaper, a sign on your desk, or a decal on your mirror – visual reminders to slow down can get you out of your head and into the present.
Go for a walk and look around at nature
Head out for a walk and make yourself take notice at everything around you – the sounds; trees; flowers; etc. Connect again with the world around you and allow yourself to walk gently – not racing around.
Taking breaks at home, work, or school can help you stop anxious thinking or stop feeling stressed. Taking a break can help you to refocus and reflect.
Some helpful things to do on a break are taking a walk, taking deep breaths, or eating mindfully. These are examples of breaks that bring you fully into your present moment experience, and out of the stress of overthinking and rushing.
Enjoy the little things
Getting to enjoy life more is one of the perks of living a slow life.
First, you need to learn to notice what is happening around you. Notice the breeze, the flowers, the clouds. Notice the smell of things.
How to live in the present moment – Final thought
If you can cultivate present moment awareness, then you can learn how to slow down and appreciate life. Appreciation comes from actually paying attention to yourself, your body, your environment, and the people around you- not rushing from one thing to the next.
So, the next time you find yourself caught in a frenzy of stress, overwhelm, and frustration, ask yourself:
How can I choose to slow down and live in the present moment today?
I would love to hear your thoughts on what you are doing to change your life in the coming days and years!
If you have any questions please reach out to me via email@example.com. I would love to hear from you!
I really hope you found inspiration in this article.
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Hello! My name is Adam and welcome to my space on the internet. Here you can find me writing about topics such as self-care, self-development and all things wellness. Connect with me on my journey and come and join the community!