A few years ago I got a tattoo saying ‘be here now’ to act as a reminder for myself as I often fall into the trap of constantly looking ahead rather than being totally present where I am and appreciating what I have right now. I’ve noticed on my travels falling into a similar trap now and again. Having had a shoulder injury preventing me from surfing as I had planned, I started fantasising about the future state when I was healed where I could do everything again that I wanted to do and this led me to getting more and more excited about going home and being somewhere else to where I am right now. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s pretty normal to want your friends and support system around you when you are going through a tough time but I realise I was constantly living in that future state in my mind and suddenly my present didn’t seem so great and then I started feeling depressed.
What I don’t want to do is look back at this time and feel like I wasted the opportunity I had in front of me to make the most of travelling. So how can I stay more present and stop getting lured into my imagination of a future life that doesn’t even exist yet and might not be anything like my creative mind has constructed it to be? Some great tips have really helped me out and I want to share some of them with you:
- Single task things, and not just your work
When you’re having a chat on the phone, don’t get distracted by your internet browser. Or when you are talking to someone stop what you are doing, focus on them and concentrate your whole attention. I have noticed so often I am doing different things at the same time and this results in me losing focus on one and not doing it to the best of my ability. Try starting the day like this and go from there, just doing one thing at a time!
- Slow it down
Have you ever noticed that when you’re agitated and are telling yourself to be quick because you’re rushed that you often end up taking longer to complete the task anyway? I have. Instead, if you approach tasks calmly in a relaxed manner you will see focus, decrease your stress and even find more enjoyment in it!
- Concentrate on your senses
A friend of mine passed on a nugget of advice which I loved. When I realised my mind was running away from me or I had gone into auto drive on a task or activity, take a moment to concentrate on your 5 senses in your current situation. This would be what can you hear, taste, see, touch, smell. By doing this, you can’t help but bring yourself back to where you are now and be more present. We too often get into a mode of familiarity with things around us so you stop paying attention to them and lose awareness. Suddenly you hear the wind, feel the temperature in the air, notice the ambient noises around you, pay attention to those you are passing. It’s all positive.
- Gratitude journalling
You can’t help but realise what you have now if you practice gratitude. By focusing on the relationships you have right now and what you are grateful for rather than what may or may not lie in the future, you become more present. I write down three things each day I am grateful for, but even if you just take the time to think about them it is super positive. It can be relationships you have but also just about anything you are grateful for. Throughout my injury, I have still come back each day to being grateful for my body and it’s strength, which is surprising sometimes but it’s made me realise how resilient I am, how strong I was and how strong I still am and this is helping my recovery.
- Change up your routine
Go a different way to work, reverse the order of your morning routine, eat some new and different food. This also ties in with our ability to go into autopilot and not pay attention to our current state because it’s become such a routine. Mix it up and take in your new surroundings, or pay a bit more attention to the taste of your breakfast in the morning, or the beauty around you on your way to work.
- Have a chat with yourself and BREATH
When you notice your mind wandering too much into the future or past, take a deep breath and say something to yourself to bring you out of it. For me, it’s as simple as saying ‘stop’ in my head, taking a big deep breath and then drawing myself back into the present moment.
This is also a great way to create some stillness and being present. Calm and Headspace are two great apps if you need some guided meditation, but even if its as simple as taking 5 minutes to breath in for 4 and out for 8 and regulate your breathing, you will feel the difference.