One thing that physics has taught us is that time travel is impossible (at least for now ;) ). The same can be said of our thoughts. Sure we can think of the past or the future, but living there is impossible and lingering there with our thoughts can be dangerous. Too much time in the thoughts of the past can fuel depression through regrets and past moments/people that one no longer has access to in the present. Whereas too much time in the future can lead one straight to high anxiety via over planning and worry over what has yet to happen.
Thankfully there are strategies we can use to sort of reset the brain and bring it back to the present when thoughts of the past or future overwhelm us or become an obsession. Here are five of my favorites that I use on an almost daily basis.
Check-in with Your Body
Let me invite you to have a conversation with your body by checking in with it for a minute or two. We too often go through our day and hardly notice what our body is telling unless it’s screaming a pain or ache at us. Dial into what each of your body parts is feeling. Ask them what they need. Spend time listening to its response. Then intentionally release the tension throughout the body. You will know exactly where that tension is sitting. Your body will easily communicate it with you. Once you’ve done this, you will feel much more grounded both in body, mind, and in the present moment.
Look Around and Notice
Take the headphones off for a moment and let the outside world seep into your senses. Take one day out of the week and instead of listening to the latest podcast or music, go for a walk to notice all that surrounds you. Let your senses absorb nature. Invite your conscious mind to simply notice the world. Do not label or judge anything you see. Just notice.
Ask Yourself, “Who do I want to be in this moment?”
If you find yourself triggered or obsessing about a past or future event, simply ask yourself this question. It pauses those thoughts and reframes it all with a positive intention that you can use in the current moment. Think of it as a screen refresh. Take a single word or value and make it your intention to become in that moment.
Focus on Your Breath
Take a few minutes to bring your focus to your breath. As you breathe in say “just” to yourself and as you breathe out say “now”. Even 30 seconds of this can recenter ourselves into the present moment. Change up the phrase to meet your needs at that moment. On especially stressful days, I like to go with “slow down” or if love is what I want to nourish I go with the names of my two sons. Find a phrase that works for you!
Put Away the Phone and Have a Real Conversation
I love my phone, social media, and even a phone game from time to time. However, when I become aware that I’m using it as a distraction too much or if it’s drawing my attention away from the present, I like to plug it in for a charge and find someone to talk to. This accomplishes two things - making sure my phone’s battery doesn't die and giving me the space to connect with someone in the present. Try scheduling the phone pause. Maybe do it during the work day and find a coworker to have a conversation with during that time. Watch as a connection develops and you’ll feel more nourished in your mind, body, and soul.
These are just a few of the strategies I like to use throughout my day. Give them a try and let me know what you think.