Every week, we receive questions from our community members asking advice on love, careers, friendships and life in general. We choose one of those questions to answer right here on the blog, in the hopes that the advice we share will be helpful for others in our community, too. This week we heard from Kara, who wants to know how to be more present.
Q - Sometimes I find it really hard to focus on and enjoy the present moment. I spend a lot of time worrying about the future and simply daydreaming and not concentrating on my day-to-day life in general. Time passes so quickly and I don’t want to miss out on things right now because I’m too focused on other things. Do you have any advice on how to be more present? Thanks, Kara.
A -Hi Kara,
Thanks so much for getting in touch, and for such a great question. Many of us are guilty of daydreaming out days away, and suddenly realising one day that time has passed by without us even really noticing it. None of us want to look back when we’re older and wonder where the time went. Here is our advice on how to be more present in your everyday life, and enjoy the here-and-now.
Shake up the routine
Most of us live our lives in a routine; we get up, go to work, come home and make dinner, spend some time with the family, go to sleep, and repeat the next day. This is natural of course, but it can cause us to live on autopilot. When you do the same thing every day, it becomes second nature and requires little thought, leaving you with lots of time to zone out and daydream the days away.
Shaking up your routine is a great way to make sure you’re paying more attention to your daily life. This may seem difficult when you have a job, family and other responsibilities to take care of every day, but there are some small and simple ways to add something new to your days. Do you usually eat your lunch at your desk or in the canteen at work? Why not go out on your lunch hour once or twice a week? You don’t need to buy an expensive lunch, just take a packed lunch and eat it outside. Or use your lunch hour to go for a walk, or catch up with a friend.
You can also add something to your evenings by doing something different after work. Instead of going home and spending the evening in front of the TV, why not have a mini adventure? Go for a drive or a walk, or pay a friend or family member a surprise visit. Even if it’s just once a week, doing something different with your evening will make your weeks feel fuller and memorable.
Wake up earlier
Another good way to be more present in your everyday life is to give yourself more time. Are you one of those people who press snooze and get up at the very last possible minute so that you only have time to quickly get ready and then rush out of the door to work? Do you allow yourself long lie-ins at the weekend because you’ve been up ‘so early’ during the week? If so, it’s time to spend less time dreaming, and more time awake.
When we’re rushing around, we barely have time to register what we’re doing. When we give ourselves more time to do things, we can slow down and really take notice of ourselves and our actions, and have more chance to enjoy them. It may be difficult to wake up earlier at first, but you’ll soon learn to love it. Wake up half an hour earlier and treat yourself to a delicious breakfast, or simply enjoy a longer shower or even a bath if you give yourself enough time.
Simply having more time to enjoy the little things will help you enjoy and appreciate them more, and you will start your day feeling more relaxed and prepared, which will lead to less stress and worry.
Limit screen time
The internet is such a big part of our lives now, and everyone seems to be online 24/7. Though social media is a useful way to keep in touch and see what our family and friends are doing, spending too much time online can ensure we’re spending more time thinking about other people than ourselves.
Do you pause before you eat a delicious looking meal in a restaurant so you can take a picture of it? Or do you spend time scrolling through news feeds and ignoring the person or people sat opposite you? If so, put your phone away and pay more attention to what’s going on around you. Implement at ‘no phones at the table’ rule, and spend meal times talking to each other about your day instead. Kids (especially teenagers) might resent this at first, but it will get easier and more natural to simply enjoy the time as a family.
Keep a journal
One way to make sure you’re paying attention to your life is to write about it. Keep a journal and spend a few minutes each evening simply writing about what happened during your day, and how you feel about the events. Even if nothing exciting happened, note down the best things about the day, or what you’re most grateful for.