A Practical Guide to Being Present

Being present and living in the moment is something I sometimes struggle with—it’s a side effect of being a daydreamer! As my friends will tell you, I’m always in the middle of making new plans (in fact I have exciting ones to share with you in a few weeks!) It keeps life interesting but it also means that sometimes I struggle to just be and enjoy this moment in time.

I often have a countdown – waiting for the weekend, for my next holiday, or for summer to come—and it’s easy to get in the bad habit of wishing the days away. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has given in to the ‘better tomorrow’ syndrome; believing life will be better at some date in the future: once I get a new job, once I lose a few kilos, once something new happens.

My overactive imagination works in the opposite direction as well. Sometimes when I think about my future, instead of daydreaming about a better tomorrow, I get caught up imagining worse case scenarios and inventing situations to worry about! I’m capable of making things in my head look much worse than they really are. Hands up if you’ve ever spent a Sunday bummed out because you’re worried about what Monday morning will be like?

In either case, the problem is my thoughts are robbing me of the joy of today. Nothing in the future is ever certain, but I am in control of how I feel, right now, at this moment.

If you catch yourself wishing away your days or worrying too much about tomorrow, try one of these practical tips to help you live in the moment and ground yourself in the magic of today.

Do you always have a countdown? Are you waiting to enjoy life or are you living in the present moment?  If you fall into the first camp, here are a few practical ideas to help you live in the moment and embrace the joy of today.

GET PHYSICAL

Often, when I find myself caught up in my head, the best way to break free is to find ways to physically connect myself to the present moment. I think that focusing on my sense of touch pulls me out of my mind, helps me let go of thoughts, and allows me to simply be in a quiet moment.

Here are a few simple physical activities to try:

  • Press your palms together
  • Sip on a hot/cold drink
  • Get a massage (or simply rub your temples)
  • Take off your shoes and be barefoot

During your chosen activity close your eyes, focus on the feeling of your skin and your muscles, the weight of your body, and take a few deep breaths.

I find this tip especially useful when I’m worrying about the future; by focusing on my body I’m reminded that right now, at this moment, I’m here and everything is ok.

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TRY A MEDITATION APP

I know a lot of people are skeptical about meditation (and for a long time I was too!). There are a lot of preconceptions about what meditation is and it can feel really strange or even intimidating at first—plus it’s difficult to know where to start!

If this is how you feel, I highly suggest downloading a meditation app. I started learning about meditation by using the Headspace app.

The free course includes ten, ten-minute guided meditations and it’s here I learned that meditation isn’t about stopping your thoughts. Instead, it is about acknowledging them and then letting them go.

(By the way, this isn’t an affiliate linkI just really recommend this app for beginners! Note that there is a paid option if you want more content.)

Although I’m still working on establishing a regular meditation routine, I’ve already noticed a distinct change in my thinking. After meditating I feel like I’ve completely emptied my brain and I have a clean slate, ready to be filled by new thoughts of my own choosing.

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FIND TIME TO DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE

Have you ever lost track of time? It happens when you’re doing something you really enjoy—you get in the ‘zone’ and you lose focus of everything but the task in front of you.

In other words, your attention is devoted to what you’re doing now instead of somewhere in the past or future.

So next time you find yourself distracted and unable to focus, instead of trying to force yourself into the present moment, ease yourself there by doing something that brings you joy.

Lately, for me it’s working on this blog—I find the creative process so therapeutic! Maybe for you, it’s baking or perhaps painting?

Even if you’re busy, try and find a little bit of time to do something that you love and you’ll remind your brain to focus on today.

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KEEP A RECORD

When I travel, I always keep a simple scrapbook—nothing fancy, just a few ticket stubs and scribbles about how I spend each day. What I noticed is that keeping a record of my daily activities helps me to be mindful and take notice of the little joys in life. Instead of mindlessly going through my day, I’m actively seeking to remember it so that I can record it later.

I now use my journal religiously and try to keep a little log of my daily activities. It doesn’t have to be epic adventures; the small things, like an evening walk with my husband or taking a few minutes to finish a difficult task, are worth recording and remembering.

RELATED POST: 5 Ways to Use Your Journal for Self Care

Do you struggle with being present? Or do you have any tips about how to live in the moment that you think I should add to my list? I’d love to hear your thoughts, let me know in the comments! x

Author: Jennifer

Hello there! I'm Jennifer and welcome to Simply + Fiercely, a community of people striving to live simpler, more intentional lives. As a former shopaholic and workaholic, I know how it feels to live a life that doesn't feel true to what's in your heart. Fortunately, I've transformed my life and gone from feeling cluttered and confused to living a curated life filled with purpose and joy. Now I'm here to help you do the same. 👉🏻 Click here to get started!