Having access to a super-computer at all time means we’re multi-tasking 24/7. While this is super convenient, it also means staying present is more difficult than ever. Many of us wear our multi-tasking stress like a badge of honor in an ‘I’m-busy-therefore-I-am-important’ sort of way. The pace of our society really leaves us no choice, but juggling all of the things all of the time can leave you feeling depleted and stressed, which takes away from what’s most important; spending time with those you love. So how do we go about practicing mindfulness when it seems the world we live in isn’t made for that? I set out to find ways to stay present (at least most of the time) and here’s what worked!
1. Put down your phone!
Now that we can see our phone usage on iPhones (eeek! anyone else finding that slightly terrifying?) it’s time to do something about it. Luckily, there are a few ways to set screen time limits on your iPhone or iPad. I’ve tried subscribing to putting my phone down at 7 or 8pm and putting it in another room. On nights when I can make that happen, I’ve realized I am unquestionably less anxious and can fall asleep faster.
2. Designate a specific time to just be.
Unless you are the Dalai Lama, chances are it’s unreasonable to be present all the time, so pick a time (bonus points if you can pick a few times) of the day that you can be totally present. Maybe you use this time to meditate or maybe it’s as simple as having an uninterrupted tech-free meal with your loved ones. It doesn’t have to be long, it just has to be unplugged and as distraction-free as possible.
3. Get outside!
Being outdoors is great for the mind and body for numerous reasons like getting more vitamin D and improving blood pressure. Try to get into a natural environment at least once a day even if it’s just for a few minutes. If it’s too cold out, consider snowboarding, skiing, sledding, or even making a snowman with your loved ones this winter.
4. Make some moves.
It’s no secret that exercise increases endorphins – our brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters – so make a point to move your body every day. Even 10-minutes of brisk walking can be enough to give you that ‘runner’s high’ and a few minutes of yoga can be just enough time to reconnect with yourself if you’re fully present on your mat.
5. Think happy thoughts.
An article in Psychology Today states that one way to produce serotonin levels is just to remember happy times! That’s right, all you need to do is remember positive events that have happened in your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is a region that controls attention. So next time you are feeling distracted just think about something that brought you joy!
The reality is that the world most of us live in doesn’t allow for mindfulnesses all the time. Anytime you feel disconnected from yourself and/or your family, try to do one (or a few!) of these five things and you’ll notice a huge difference, and so will the people around you!