10 Ways to Teach Yourself to Live in the Moment
1) Write it down (“brain dump”).
Allow yourself time to get those ideas out of your brain and into a planner, your phone, pad of paper or whatever works for you.
I have one central place for my ideas, but I also have pads of paper by my nightstand, in my car and in our schoolroom because these are the places where I find myself becoming overwhelmed with ideas of what I need to do.
I find that if I can write them down (even if I have to pull the car over to write them down, or sit up in the middle of the night) then I can release them. This in turn helps me to…
2) Stop obsessing about things. Really.
I know, I know. It is my natural tendency to process and plan things this way too.
But I’m convinced that this is the main root of overwhelm and stress for so many of us.
If we choose to think about all may go on in the future (or what happened in the past) then how will we ever, ever engage ourselves in (and fully enjoy) the present?
3) Stop and reset (even if it’s every 15 seconds).
If I find myself (or one of my kids) swimming in overwhelm, I catch myself (or them) and say:
“Let’s stop. Let’s reassess what’s happening right now. Everything will take care of itself. Let’s just focus on what right now needs to look like.”
4) Break down what’s before you into small steps.
What if, instead of thinking of the task in its entirety, you broke the task down into many moment-by-moment steps?
How much anxiety would dissipate if you could concentrate on these small steps, one at a time?
Don’t try to rush ahead mentally to the next step. Instead just think about that exact step for that second. Then…
5) Become very literal.
I find that when I don’t live in the moment it happens on an subconscious level.
It’s like I’ll be doing something and then I realize suddenly that (oh darn!) my mind is off thinking and re-thinking through an upcoming situation.
One of the best ways I’ve found to stop the onslaught of thoughts is to make myself think about something very literal right in front of me (“I am driving on this road right now.” “There is a beautiful bunch of flowers on the table in front of me.” “All I’m being asked to do is to sit here.”).
Then I play a game with myself where I begin forcing myself to describe in detail this literal thing in front of me (“Look at this road. It is super curvy with black lines and a wandering fence on the right side. There is a group of trees up ahead on the right.”)
Once I’ve allowed my mind to do this for a 30 seconds or so, it’s like I’m able to control my thoughts again.
6) Take deep breaths.
In her Replenish 365 class, Lisa Byrne teaches a wonderful breathing technique that I use daily.
To turn on the “calm switch” in your brain, Lisa suggests a four-breath round of breathing in through your nose to a count of four, and then breathing out through your mouth to a count of eight.
This little technique has saved me multiple times!
7) Smile and relax.
Have you ever noticed the effect that your muscles (whether that’s your facial muscles, your shoulders, etc) have on your overall mental state? This is especially true of our facial muscles.
The next time you’re feeling totally overwhelmed, try smiling (I’m serious! Go into the other room to do it if you have to.).
Now you probably won’t want to smile, but do it anyway.
I’m not saying it’s a cure-all, but I know I’ve read before about the connection between smiling and endorphin release, and every time I try relaxing and smiling when I am super stressed, I instantly feel my defenses lower and I somehow feel (even a little bit) better.
And on the subject of relaxing…
8) Do some quick stress-relieving exercises.
Now, I know that this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re at the grocery store with a cart full of kids or in your car speeding along at 65 miles per hour.
But if you are at home and are able, consider doing some simple stretches, shoulder rolls, or even basic yoga poses like “Downward Facing Dog” or “Child’s Pose” (you can google these to see what they look like if you’re not familiar with them).
9) Find thankfulness in the moment.
Choose to find something in the moment to thank God about that’s happening right now before you.
If you’re driving in the country, thank God for the beautiful scenery around you.
If you’re driving in the city, thank God for all the services and places to visit around you.
If you’re making dinner, thank God for the yumminess that awaits you when the dinner is completed.
Somehow, being thankful reminds us of the bigger picture and that, yes, there are always many, many things to celebrate.
These 8 x 10 printable quotes can really help!
10) Accept His provision for this moment and choose joy.
Someone once told me that “the definition of fear is ‘going into the future without God.’”
That has really stuck with me and has changed my life.
God gives us His provision for this moment, and only for this moment. We’re not living in the future or the past, so we shouldn’t be surprised if we feel stressed or anxious when thinking about those things because God hasn’t handed us the provision for those things!
God fed the Israelite people with “manna” that lasted only for one day (Exodus 16:1-20); and Jesus tells us to not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow brings its own troubles (Matthew 6:34).
These Bible verses on joy (no matter the circumstances) have really inspired me!
He will give us what we need in that moment. Live in the moment. Stay with Him there!
Now… how about you? How is God teaching you to live in the moment, especially during stressful seasons?
And don’t forget to grab your free (4) 8 x 10 Printable Quotes! (TK)