Recently I just turned 28! Welcome to the late 20’s! On almost every past birthday, I would journal about everything from the past year. I would journal about everything I’d wish I had done differently, things that were great, things that were bad. I would also write about the things I want for myself in the next year and things I don’t want for myself (career, relationships, etc.) Then I would look at the past year and see if I stuck to my goals that I wanted for myself through the year.
There are so many benefits to reflecting. It is helpful when you are trying to work on personal development. It is helpful if you have any past traumas that you need to work through. I love reflecting because it allows me to see myself and how I am doing (mentally, financially, and in my career, etc.). It allows me to see how I am showing up for the people I care about and how I am showing up for myself. It allows me to see what I want to improve on.
There are also so many benefits to planning for your future (financial future, relationships, career, etc.) Creating goals for yourself helps you to stay on track to a bright future.
Both reflecting and looking ahead are so important! But there are also SO many benefits to being present. We are more focused and our memory is brighter when we are more present. We are able to focus more on the job at task. We are also more focused on the conversations we are having (which gives us stronger relationships). If you’ve ever had a conversation with someone who keeps checking their phone (someone who is not present) it gives off a negative energy to the people involved in the conversation.
You probably hear the phrase used often “Be Present”. Often phrases like this get used so often that they lose their value. But how often do we really allow ourselves to be present. We live in such a “go-go-go” type of world, that we forget to just take a minute to just be.
The reason we love to be on vacation so much is because it is the one time we allow ourselves to slow down and enjoy where we are. When we think of vacation, we think of being stress free because when we are on vacation we allow ourselves to be relaxed. It is impossible to avoid being totally stress free. We have all experienced stress at least once in our lives. Being present can help relieve some of that stress.
Being present allows us to look at where we are in our lives. I used to always look ahead with my career and my living situation and I would always think “whats next”. I would always feel unaccomplished in my career or unhappy where I was living because I was always thinking about the future. I would always feel unhappy in my body because I was always dreaming about those abs I always wanted. We should be able to still want things for our future, but also be happy where we are too.
Take a deep self reflection. Look at your current circumstances, see what you have in your life. There are probably some things you could change now like cleaning your home and getting rid of unnecessary items. You could look at your habits and change those things pretty easily. But there are some things that take A LOT of time to change, like having the job you always wanted, or getting engaged, losing weight, or buying a home for the first time. (Sometimes what we want changes over time with the ebbs and flows of life!). While we have hopes, dreams, and aspirations, we should take the time to be happy and present where we are in our lives. Just because you aren’t living your dream life just yet, doesn’t mean you can’t be happy with the life you have now.
The best way to be more present is to practice mindfulness. You can do this as little as once a day! Be mindful of everything around you. Pay attention to the noises that are going on. Pay attention to how you are breathing. Pay attention to who is around you and what they are doing. Look at the colors around you. Notice how you are sitting or standing. Take notice of everything happening at that moment in time. This is being mindful and present. My favorite way to practice this is by going on a walk. Pay attention to the cars, the noises, the birds. Notice how the wind is moving. When we begin to become aware and notice more, we are beginning to be more present.
Another way to be present is by finding something you love to do and dedicate a time each day to doing it. Maybe you love jewelry making, or painting. Maybe you love reading, music or baking. Whatever it is that you are passionate about (that isn’t work!) do it for a few minutes a day. While during this time try your best to focus on what you are doing and how you are doing it. If you feel your mind drift, bring yourself back to the task at hand.
Another great way to practice being present is by having meaningful conversations. This can be done with friends, family, your significant other, or by journaling alone. Find something that you feel passionate about (something happening in the world or happening in your life) like climate change, the newest nutrition trend, or a new fitness app you recently discovered, or how you feel about whats happening in the news. When we have deep and meaningful conversations, even if it is with ourselves, we are allowing ourselves to focus completely on that moment. This should be done without any distractions, no tv or phones. When we limit distractions, we are more likely to remain present in the moment.
There are so many other great ways to practice mindfulness and be more present.
- Connecting to your breath is an amazing tool. When you connect to your breath you begin to connect with the present moment. Our breath controls so much of our mental, physical and emotional selves. This can be done through meditation and yoga! Chakra mediation is an amazing form of mediation. When I do meditate, I do a chakra focused meditation. Chakra mediation is beneficial for smooth flowing energy, to help you feel balanced, and to heal your chakras.
- Ground yourself. This can be done by eating more root vegetables (beets carrots, turnips, etc.), by walking around outside barefoot for a few minutes and feeling the earth with your hands, or by meditating with crystals. This will help to connect you to the earth and your root chakra. Your root chakra represents your stability in life. So connecting to the earth and your root chakra will bring about the things you have in your present life that help you feel a sense of security. This in turn helps relieve stress and allows you to let go of any stress for the future.
- Create a ritual for your every day life. This can be anything from creating a whole morning routine for yourself, or it can be something simple like sitting with your coffee in the morning and writing a page in your journal. I do suggest that your ritual be something other than checking the news or your Instagram feed! I also recommend doing your routine in the morning time, as this will set the rest of your day for success. When you are doing your every day ritual , it becomes the time (and for many the only time) of day you are allowing yourself to block out all distractions. This is different than doing the thing you love to do (which I mentioned above). This is something that is a ritual done every day. A few examples (all done without technology besides a few!):
+Taking care of your garden or house plants, tending to them every day.
+having your coffee and reading or writing
+meditation (this can be done through an app too, as long as your calls and texts remain silent)
+listen to a podcast (this can be done through an app too, as long as your calls and texts remain silent)
+Drinking a full glass of water with lemon
+lighting a candle (as long as you remember to blow it out before you leave home!)
+Open all your blinds to let the light in
+pull a card from your tarot collection
- Get into nature! Like I said before, taking a walk and noticing everything will open your awareness and help you be present. But also just being in nature (camping and hiking are my favorite activities!) without ANY distractions, will help you stay present. Yes it is okay to take some pictures and play music from your phone, just try to avoid social media!
- Mind-Body-Connection. Your body responds to your thoughts! When we workout and we focus on the muscle we are working, our body responds by helping you perform better! (Next time you do squats, focus on your glute muscles and you will see better results!). When we feel stressed, our body responds by releasing cortisol and storing fat around our belly. When you become more mindful of how you are feeling, you will guide yourself to a more present state, which in turn will bring calmness to your mind and body.
Being present is a practice. We can’t always remain present. We do have to think of the future, even when exploring freely, we do need to look ahead and think about where to next. If we have hardships we do need to look back, reflect and heal. But the truest way to relieve stress, is by practicing being present. Practicing presence, opening our awareness, and focusing on being mindful is so beneficial to our mental, physical, and emotional state of being.
What do you do to stay present?! Let me know in the comments below!