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Too often people get caught up living in the past or the future, instead of enjoying the present. Whether you are spending time with family or in the midst of another workday, the most important time in life is now. While living in the moment takes practice, it can help you stay grounded and appreciate the small things that make life so great. We partnered with Depend to offer five expert tips that can help you focus on today and help you live your best life.
1. Start the day with intention
“Setting an intention draws our awareness to what is most important for us that day,” said Dr. Melanie Greenberg, a clinical psychologist based in California. “It’s easier to get out of auto-pilot when we have something concrete to focus on.”
Instead of waking up and immediately thinking about what you have to get done, focus on being present in the morning. Relax, take in your surroundings and gather your thoughts.
Breathing might seem like a no-brainer, but directing your attention to your breath can be a powerful tool for channeling the present moment. If you find your mind wandering to things that make you feel stressed and anxious, focus on your breath and release any negative feelings with long exhalations.
“Slow, deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system to put the brakes on your stress (fight or flight) response,” Greenberg explained.
When you find yourself in a happy moment, take long, slow breaths and concentrate on really feeling each inhalation and exhalation. Breath can help center you and remind you to slow down.
3. Use your senses
Your five senses can help keep you in the moment, whether you are feeling anxious and need help staying grounded or just want to remind yourself to stop and enjoy the things around you.
“Describe what you're seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, etc.,” Denise Abatemarco, a psychotherapist in New York explained. “It can be a great way to tune into your body as well as your surroundings to feel more grounded and it's something you can do anywhere.”
If you take a break from thoughts that might be worrying you to check in with your physical senses and where you are in the moment, you might break a cycle of panic or stress and be able to reset yourself.
4. Check in with yourself
“How am I?”: It’s a simple question that can help you connect with yourself. Through these three words, you can recognize how you’re feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally.
“Checking in can be taking a moment to take some deep breaths and to tune in to our emotions, as well as our physical state,” Abatemarco said.
Taking a few minutes to reconnect can help you stay more in tune with yourself and the present moment.
“Notice what your mind and body are doing,” Greenberg said. “If you’re on auto-pilot, gently guide your attention back to your feet on the ground, your belly and your breath.”
5. Live life one experience at a time
Ultimately, living in the present moment is about living life one experience at a time. A great meal, a phone call with a loved one, or even the drive home from work can be moments that make life worth living.
“We miss out on so much because we're simply not paying attention,” Abatemarco said. “I encourage clients to carve out some quiet time for themselves every day. We need time to notice what we're feeling and to give our minds time to wander — this is often when we have our best ideas.”
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