5 Ways to Remain Present Throughout the Day
In the last two or three years, the word ‘mindfulness’ seems to be all over blogs, social media and the latest mental health talk. When I moved to Asia and suddenly faced the process of finding balance in a new country, new society, and new job, my curiosity caved. The act of mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness is the conscious act of taking our minds off of autopilot and regaining control of our thoughts. It’s a purposeful choice to be present, without judging our actions, thoughts or feelings as good or bad, focusing instead just on observation.
For me, mindfulness just means being aware and present. Observing the little things throughout the day, like the taste of morning fruit, reveling in the time to read before bed, and remembering to breathe deep in stressful moments.
It’s also helped me cultivate gratitude. As they say, life is much more beautiful when you stop and smell the roses. Here are some tips to help you remain present throughout the day:
1. Start and End the Day Slowly
Starting and ending the day slowly is like savoring a slow sweet kiss. It’s easy to wake up and immediately get caught up in the rush of the day, from the minute you reach over and grab your phone in the morning, to the click of your laptop screen in bed. I suggest doing something you really enjoy doing in the morning, even if that means dancing to funky music or talking to your best friend on the patio. At night, tune out the world again by savoring your slowing movements. Not only will you sleep better, but it will put your mind at ease and into your current state.
2. Go for an Intentional Observation Walk
People watching is hands down one of my favorite—and free—activities ever. But too often I find my head sucked into my phone. Going for an intentional observation walk changes that, as it literally forces you to put your phone down to look where you’re going (raise your hand if you can walk and look at your phone for more than 10 seconds—I didn’t think so). While walking, try to observe at least 5 things that you’ve never noticed before—whether it’s a different plant, an interesting looking person, or even the sound your shoes make on the pavement. Get weird, use your imagination and before you know it you’ll realize your focus has been on what’s happening right now and nowhere else.
Meditation has been the single best practice I’ve adopted that has transformed my overall wellness. In the past, I’ve used guided meditation and always found it super helpful, but also just another task for me to complete during the day (aka, put off). Within the last year, I discovered that simply setting a timer and breathing with my eyes closed does the trick (breathing deep and slow is critical). Add this to your morning routine, as part of tuning in with your body before catching up with the world or throughout the day whenever you have a few minutes to yourself or are feeling overwhelmed. Slowing down to breathe is life changing.
4. Consume Slowly
I was a chronic fast eater as a kid, no lie. My dad always had a massive appetite and my mom would empty her plate first. So what did I do? Fill up my plate, and the race was on. Now I realize that eating, drinking and even processing information slowly will shift your habits. The more we slowly digest what we are consuming, whether it be physical nourishment, or bad news, it allows our minds to process and deliberate on a response before we react.
5. Practice Gratitude
News flash: The sayings are all true. People who prioritize being grateful have a higher rate of happiness. It’s easy to compare your life to others—especially via social media’s ever-present reminders, but making a daily practice of mulling on what you’re grateful for turns your happiness inward, releasing emotions that are tied to the future or the past. Living your life with a heart of gratitude will continually help you focus on what you have now, today.
By putting these practices into motion every day, being present will eventually become a habit, and usher in more peace, gratitude and happiness into your life.
What do you do to stay in the moment throughout the day?