No doubt about it the past few months have been a challenge for us all. At the start of lockdown I feel like everyone had a purpose, a direction, a reason to be in the present moment. Maybe as a Key Worker carrying on with vital work, managing an increased work load, to those on furlough having to teach, find hobbies or spend time on house improvements. The whole time being told to stay at home like a call to arms or rather a call to armchairs for some most of the country. Ironically now in the UK the message is stay alert. I felt on alert the whole of lockdown, high alert, high tension, high stress.
Now it feels different we are in the doldrums – a state of listlessness, waiting for the next ‘stage’. Living in the perpetual present and for many of us this is unusual. Being drip fed news of things slowly opening up again but in reality thats just waiting for normality to return, its not really something to look forward, like a holiday or a big family gathering. Many of us had an image of lockdown lifting and we all race out to the bars, hug each other and celebrate life being normal again, crack on with our grand plans for the future. But its not like that. Its hard to plan for the future with so much doubt. Everything has a question mark at the end, every conversion has the ‘well if we can do that by then…’
A big part of our drive in life is looking forward to big events and goals, with these things now cancelled or moved so far ahead its hard to find something to hook our focus onto.
What can do about it?
Embrace the present moment. We hear it all the time right? ‘live for the moment’ ‘be in the now’ but its backed by evidence, doing this helps reduce stress and anxiety. So what does it mean? being in the present moment. It means being mindful and aware of what is happening right now and not being distracted by the past or the future.
The reason its so hard to achieve is because we programmed to look forward and for that matter sometimes back in the past. There is nothing wrong in thinking of the past and the future. The key is balance.
Techniques for staying in the present moment
- Stop planning so much. I am not saying don’t ever make plans but just remember plans change. Attempting to plan your life out to the nth degree is probably not healthy for you. Make plans but don’t lose sight of the present.
- Practice mindfulness. The basic principle of mindfulness is to fully engage in whatever you’re doing at that present moment. So it can be applied to almost all facets of life. I apply it to many areas of my own life, cleaning the house without any music on and focussing just on the activity of cleaning.
- Focus on your senses. Notice sensations in your body, maybe its the warmth of the sun on your skin, the smell of nature, the sight of a clear blue sky.
- Cut the screen time. Every-time I ask someone how they become more present they nearly always say it starts with cutting down screen time and ditching your smart phone for a little while. Its true just give it a try turn your phone off for a few hours engage in something fully.
In closing striking the right balance is a fine art but right now is the perfect moment to really become more present and embrace the lull we are having before things start to get back to ‘normal’ with normal being back to our frantic lives.
All the best
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