Practicing Being Present

If you’re new around here, hi! I’m Kim and I walk through life with a bit of anxiety. I sit in awe of people like my husband who can just… chill.

He doesn’t dwell on mistakes of the past and he certainly doesn’t stress about things in the future beyond his control. He can just… sit there. 

In life’s most joyful moments, he doesn’t have an instinct to reach for his phone. He will take it all in and feel the magic in the present. He can really, truly be present (well, most of the time… sometimes his ADHD wins out but that’s another blog post.)

You may as well ask me to dunk a basketball, I just don’t know if I have those skills. But, if “Overthinking” was an Olympic sport, I would bring home the GOLD for our country. 

Please tell me I’m not alone. 

How To Be Present

Remembering to be present is kind of like remembering to breathe. Once you realize you are doing it, it’s hard to go back to doing it unconsciously. It’s like a muscle for me. I need constant reminders and a few techniques to get back into the moment.  Here are three strategies I use on how to be present: 

#1 The Five Senses Technique 

This common therapy technique works to help you come back into the moment when your mind is bouncing between thoughts. 

Take a look around the room you are in and try to find:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

You don’t have to go and touch any of these things, just acknowledge them and move on to the next sense. You may find you feel better by the time you get to the second sense.

Many professionals also recommend doing this practice with your feet firmly planted on the floor and your hand over your heart to increase the feeling of groundedness in the present.

#2 Breath Stacking

Sometimes when it’s all too much, it’s helpful to have an extra breath. There is a technique called breath stacking, where you take a full deep breath through your nose, and before exhaling you take one or two small breaths. Doing this a few times a day can actually help expand your lungs, making eating and speaking easier. Doctors recommend doing this seated in loose clothing, with your hand on your stomach, and before meals or at bedtime.

This is one of MANY breathing techniques that exist out in the world to keep you centered. Try a few different ones and see what works best for you. I have a friend who keeps this video from Calm saved on her phone when she feels a bout of anxiousness come up.

#3 Gratitude

Earlier this year we had Neil Pasricha on the podcast to talk to us about happiness. He recommended not starting the day with your smartphone but instead writing these 3 questions on a piece of paper:

  • I will let go of ___________
  • I am grateful for ___________
  • I will focus on ___________

When life gets overwhelming, it can be helpful to remind yourself that you have a life to stress over and people to care for. Gratefulness doesn’t take the hard things away, but reminds you that there is still a lot of good in the world. 

I’d love to hear what keeps you present. Do you have tips and tricks to calm your anxiety? 

Deep breaths, y’all. We’ve got this.

Xo, Kim