Ever have one of those days when you get from point A to point B and you're not quite sure how you got there? It's scary when you realize that you've lost the time along the way. Okay, don't freak out, but this happens to me a lot when I'm driving by myself and thinking about all the things I have to get done when I get where I'm going. Sometimes it happens when I'm jogging. Or when I wake up on Friday morning and wonder where the days went that week. It's easy to just go on autopilot when we are trying to fill our lives with so much and in my case, plan, plan, plan. So I started thinking about the little things that I do that wake me up, make me feel alive and very much in the moment. Some of them are corny. Some of them are no-brainers. But they are small things that help me return to the NOW (and appreciate it) when my mind is some place far, far away.
TUNE IN: There is something about singing - whether it is in the shower, with the radio in the car or around the house that makes me feel happy and silly. It can be any old camp song or Frank Sinatra classic or Stevie Wonder. Whatever. But somehow belting it out - especially along with my children - does wonders for my mind and my soul. Truly, you can't be doing anything else when you are trying to remember the lyrics to "Leaving On A Jet Plane" or "This Land Is My Land," can you? Now, I know you can't do this in the office. But perhaps adding a song break to your morning or evening routine will help you shake off whatever funk you're in.
MOVE YOUR BODY: When the babies were tiny and dusk settled in, I learned fairly early that dancing was a great way to calm their crying. I would put one infant in a baby sling and rock the other in a bouncy chair with my foot and turn on whatever music I could find and shake my booty. And I am a terrible dancer. Now that I work at home, 5PM at my house is still "dance party" time. On those days, when it is difficult to shut down my professional brain and tune into mommy time, physical movement gets me in touch with the now. And throughout my day, whether it is taking a walk or working out vigorously, there is something about stretching my legs and getting my blood going to bring me back to the planet.
TAKE A TECH BREAK: I met an Internet security expert recently who talked about parents asking their children to turn in their cell phones, iPhones, Blackberries, etc. at 8PM each night. What a great idea for all of us multi-taskers. When we aren't constantly responding to the communications that fill up our days, we have more time for meaningful real life interactions. Lots of companies are starting to implement Blackberry blackouts so that employees can truly take advantage of time-off. If you aren't checking or replying to email every two seconds, you actually can concentrate on the activity you are doing at that exact moment. And of course, this goes for TV watching and Internet surfing, too. Take a time out and you'll feel much more in touch.
HUG SOMEONE: There is something really special about taking the time to express your affection to someone else in the course of your day. You block out everything else in your brain when you give a big squeeze to someone you care about. The focus is just on him or her for that moment. The five seconds it takes to give your child or spouse or friend an extra hug will make you stop and exist in the very moment - no matter how fleeting.
SAY THANK YOU: When we stop to offer this little bit of kindness, it is a pause that forces us to be in the present. Your mind has to be focused on the moment to acknowledge your gratitude. All it takes is being mindful of the need to offer thanks throughout your day and you are on the road to being more present.
BREATHE: For me, one really big inhale and a forceful exhale refreshes my mind when my head is buzzing. Try to remind yourself to get up breathe throughout the day - step away from your desk, your telephone, your crying child and just fill up your lungs with oxygen. Not only will this simple act calm you down. It will remind you that you are very much alive and capable of handling anything.
What do you do to be more present?
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