So many people use the term “staying present” as a simple verb.
Especially as we talk about grief, anxiety or just finding more joy in your life.
But what does it mean?
What does it look like?
Have you ever wished someone would just tell you HOW to stay present?
Well, you are in luck because today that’s exactly what I’m doing.
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I gotta tell you, the holidays are coming. If you feel like you’re struggling, will you come and hop on a consult call with me. There’s gonna be a link in the show notes. Come and talk to me. I’m gonna take care of you. I’m gonna teach you all the ways to handle the holidays, uh, without feeling. Completely at the mercy of your emotions and your family and friends, it’s gonna be so good.
You need to give yourself the gift of mental health. It’s the most important thing that you can spend your time or money on, and I truly, truly believe that. Okay, let’s talk about our topic today. I. I was really inspired to do this message just from things I’ve been reading online and, and just talking to people.
It’s really, really a challenge these days to stay present. And last week we talked about mental hygiene and how we keep our brains kind of. Working on purpose and working for us and keeping them from getting stuck. And this is really part of that. Staying present is a skill that you can learn. So I want you to start small.
I’m gonna give you a lot of tips today, but just pick one. Um, pick a few. Make it work for your life. There is no right way to do this. It’s just another practice that is going to help you find more joy in your life as it is, even if you’re grieving. So why is it so helpful to stay present? There are so many reasons.
Well, a huge one is it cuts down on anxiety. Anxiety and worry live in the future, right? They, you’re always worried about something that might happen, and so if you’re in the present, you’re gonna cut that anxiety down so much. Another thing it does is helps us let go of regrets. If we find that we’re living in the past a lot, if we’re going over and over our decisions, if we’re thinking that we made mistakes when you’re in the present.
You can’t do that to yourself. You can’t beat yourself up over stuff that you did in the past. You just let it be. Staying in the present also allows us to accept our reality, and this is kind of in the same vein of letting go of the regrets we. Are able to be where we are that is real. Instead of living in the past, instead of worrying about the future, we’re just gonna sit here and know that what happened, happened.
What is happening in our life, where we are exactly in this moment. That’s. Our reality and we can work on accepting that when we actually stay there and don’t spend so much time and energy, uh, in the past and the future. It also builds a lot of confidence in ourselves because right now you are okay, and we are gonna talk about this a little bit later in the episode, but right now, because right now you are doing a good job, you are living, you are breathing, you are getting through the day, and it kind of.
Gives us a much more focused way of looking at ourselves. Instead of judging everything we did or what we think we can’t do. We can just tell ourselves that we’re doing a great job and be confident in that. Even if life seems like it’s a big mess right now or whatever, you can just say, no, I’m doing a great job.
I’m doing it. I’m handling it right in this moment. Another great benefit of staying in the present is it keeps us from fighting the grief. This is something where once we learn how to feel grief, once we can recognize grief and how it’s showing up for us in our lives, wherever we are in the process, then we know that we can handle it.
A lot of what grieving people fear is feeling more grief or getting emotional or, or just like being overwhelmed. With emotions, but once you stop fighting the grief and you look at you now, it’s like, no, even if you’re crying in the shower, You’re okay if you are present and you are experiencing that you’re okay.
Um, you can be friends with grief when you allow yourself to be more in the present, because a lot of times what is the worst thing about grief is feeling like we’re gonna hate it forever. So if you can make friends with grief by being present. And noticing that it’s not, I mean, it’s not fun, but it’s manageable.
You’ll be able to make friends with grief and right along with this is being in the present lessens hopelessness. And what I mean by that is, You won’t catastrophize the rest of your life. A lot of times this is what happens is we take what’s happening today, especially on the hard days. Our brain is like, Ugh, it’s gonna be so hard forever.
But for the most part, for most people, it is not. It will get better. You will learn how to manage these emotions. You will learn how to handle grief. You will learn how to heal, and I would love to help you with that. If you feel like right now you have no idea how this is ever going to get better, and you are feeling kind of hopeless, I would love to help you.
That’s what I do. I wanna show you the way to find joy in your life and to allow for the pain. Pain is not a problem. Grief is not a problem. I know you miss your babies, and that’s okay. Being in the present allows us to experience emotions. Now instead of being afraid of emotions, and this is actually super helpful as we go into the holidays, right?
How many of you out there listening are dreading? The holidays are dreading. How you’re gonna feel are dreading how you’re gonna deal with people. When you say present, you can let go of that dread. So let’s keep going. I know this is gonna help you. All right. I looked up some really great quotes on saying present, and I’m gonna share a few of them with you.
Buddha said, do not dwell in the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment. And that is obviously a tenant of kind of like meditation and all of those things. It’s really to just quiet and calm the mind and be where you are. Okay. Abraham Maslow said the ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness, and I love that quote.
It’s very to the point. This is a major component of mental health. If you can’t figure out how to do this, it’s a lot of extra suffering that you don’t need to go through. Like I said, living in the past, living in regret or worrying about the future. It’s not gonna produce a good result for you in your life.
Eckhart Tole said, if you were conscious, that is to say totally present in the now. All negativity would dissolve almost instantly. It could not survive in your presence. That’s pretty cool. Uh, that is a really, really interesting quote and how he says all negativity would dissolve almost instantly if you were truly in the present.
Now, Eckhart Tole is amazing. He is a great teacher. Um, lots of great books. I own a few. I struggled to get through those books. I know Oprah loves him. I know a lot of my mentors love. Love his teachings. You, it’s okay to take it in small doses. He has so, so much wisdom to share on staying present. So definitely check him out if you, if you would like to.
Um, I just, well, I was researching some of these quotes and things. I found that he has like videos and all kinds of things, so if the books are hard, maybe try the videos. I might, I might go do that. And I, I wanna remind you to, Pick what resonates with you and leave the rest, even if it’s this podcast or like if it’s a super deep book about saying in the present, if you could just get one gem out of a book or a podcast, that is just perfect.
We don’t have to do everything all the time. Um, and that’s a really important skill too, is to just, cuz a lot of times what keeps us out of the present is wishing. We were different or things were different, or we knew more, we were better. It’s like, no, you’re. You’re good, you’re perfect. You’re doing a great job, even if you don’t spend a lot of time meditating or whatever.
Right. Don’t tell yourself you’re doing it wrong. Keep telling yourself you’re doing it. Right. Right. And here’s one of my favorite quotes, you’ve probably heard it before yesterday, is History. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it’s called The Present, and that is by Alice Morse Earl. I love that quote, and I, I actually remember it a lot, so if that funny one just, just clicks with you, keep that quote.
Now I wanna talk a little bit about the past and the future. It is okay to remember things, but I don’t want you to be suffering when you think about like the future and the past. If you notice a lot of pain or negative emotions, that’s where you’ll wanna pay attention. Um, if you feel a lot of grief, that’s okay.
Understand that you’re not sad because of what happened in the past. You are sad because of what you are thinking. Now you are sad because you wish your baby was here now, or you think like he would be three years old right now, or any of those thoughts. I’m gonna say that one more time and again, just if this resonates with you, take it.
I’m just offering it to you, but you are not sad now because of what happened in the past. You are sad now because of what you are thinking now, and that is going to be true across the board. Any pain you are feeling, any emotion you’re feeling, it’s because of what you are thinking now. And I. I may have used this before, but I’m gonna use it again and I don’t, I, it’s fine.
I want you to think of the movie 51st Dates. If you haven’t seen it, it’s Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, and spoiler alert, drew Barrymore has been in an accident and can only remember like 24 hours. So she lives the same day over and over, and as they’re going dating and moving forward in a relationship, even though she forgets him every day.
She’s worried and she says, well, what if I got pregnant And I looked down and I, I didn’t know where this belly came from or, or what if this, or what if that? And so she wants to erase him and break up with him, but in the end she does have a little, uh, little girl and they are doing amazing things and they figure out how to make it work.
But the thing is, when, when she forgets everything, She forgets the things she was worried about. She forgets those fears. Right? And if we forgot every day, we also wouldn’t feel all that pain until we were reminded of it, right? Until we thought about it again, until someone told us. Hey, you know, you had a child and they died, so just remember that it’s not a problem that you are sad that your baby died, but just know that it comes from your thoughts and keep it in the present.
Right, because once you know this, you get all of your power back. You’re not trapped or stuck anymore, right? You’re not trapped into being sad forever because you know that your sadness comes from your thoughts now, and you eventually might evolve those if you want to or you know that. Yeah. I’m creating this for myself, and that’s okay because I wanna be sad about what happened and I’m not gonna judge it and I’m not gonna put a timeline on it.
Now, when we talk about the future, it can be really useful to look forward and make goals, and I talk a lot about that, um, here on the podcast and in everything I do. But the reason we wanna do that is so we know what to do today. Like if I wanted to run a marathon next spring, what do I need to do now to make that a reality?
And how do I keep taking action each day knowing that there. Isn’t better than here because here is what I have and I bet a part of marathon training is figuring out how to create some mental toughness so you can stay present with each step, especially when the miles are hard, just focusing on each mile individually.
Would help to not get overwhelmed. And it’s funny how I like to use marathon analogies, but I do not love running. But the lesson is there and all of this to say that you can stay present and look forward on purpose one doesn’t cancel the other, right? It’s okay to think about the future, but stay present and be where you are.
It’s only a problem when we let our brain run wild with worry. That’s what we don’t wanna do, but I promise you tips and tools you can use. So let’s get to it. There are so many ways to stay present. I just picked a few. I think these ones are really. Simple, doable, and are gonna be able to help you right away.
The first one is tap into your senses. So many of us live in our heads and in our eyes, basically on our screens. Maybe we live a little bit in our stomachs, but there is so much to experience if we slow down. There are sounds. Your brain has tuned out. Can you hear them? You can even pause this right now and just listen for a minute.
You can feel the world under your fingertips. Feel your clothing on your body When you eat, slow down and really taste it. Look up and survey what’s around you? What do you see? Feel the ground beneath your feet. Is it soft or hard? Is it warm or cold? You’ll find me barefoot at almost all times. Um, but so if you wear shoes a lot, try taking them off and just noticing what you feel.
What do you smell? Do you wear your favorite perfume daily or save it for special occasions? If you love it, I say wear it and then enjoy it. When you need to come back to now, you can just pass your wrist in front of your nose. What is your favorite way to use your senses? Do more of that. And also try something you don’t often do.
Try this week to notice some things you’ve never noticed before in your everyday life. Another way to stay present is to find some thoughts that help bring you back to now they need to be believable and focused on you. They can even be as simple as describing what you are doing. Like right now, I’m in my office, I’m speaking into a microphone.
I’m wearing warm fuzzy socks. I hear the heater blowing air through the vent in the ceiling. My hands are cold in the present. You are always okay. If you are thinking, then you are alive and your brain is functioning. Even if you are going through something difficult, you are okay in this moment. This is really helpful with worry and if you are reliving, reliving something traumatic from your past right now, in this moment, you are safe.
Your brain is on the lookout for danger, but it’s not here in the present. If it were in the present trust that you would know exactly what to do, you would handle whatever came in front of you. This helps, especially with pregnancy after loss or parenting after loss, you wanna worry about your child and what might happen to them.
It is mentally and emotionally exhausting to constantly be thinking about the what ifs. So keep reminding yourself that if anything happens, you’ll be able to handle it at that time and you will a hundred percent breathe. Breathing is such a special gift to us. It is something that happens automatically and we don’t have to think about it.
Our brain just does that for us, but we also can control our breath. There really aren’t a lot of systems in the body that we can control, both consciously and unconsciously. When you find yourself not being present, simple breathing techniques can ground you again. One is to just inhale five and exhale five and repeat.
My watch actually reminds me to do this. If you have a smartwatch or your phone, try setting it to remind you to breathe even for a minute, a few times a day. Another one my therapist taught me during my pregnancy after loss was to inhale and say, breathe in serenity. Exhale, breathe out all thoughts. So you say those words in your head, breathe in serenity, breathe out all thoughts.
And I still use that one, especially if I wanna settle my mind down to rest. Because the cool thing is when you focus on your breath, the mind has to quiet. I love that so much. And my last tip for today is to reduce the input. We are bombarded with new social media and all kinds of expectations and tasks we have for ourself each day.
Slow down. Don’t scroll the news first thing in the morning. Write down your list and check things off one at a time. Don’t try to multitask. If you’re doing something, do only that. It’s hard, but try it. I’ll even tell you this one time to do chores without a podcast in your ear. What if you just folded laundry?
I remember a friend I had, and we were visiting and she was saying, I love doing laundry. I love the warm clothes. Right out of the dryer. And I was a little taken aback because I never managed to fold the clothes as soon as they were done and, and were warm and dry. But I love how she really found a way to be present and enjoy that warm laundry.
What other noise do you have in your life? How can you reduce the mental clutter? It might be by reducing the actual clutter, like we just learned from Sure. Gill, a few episodes ago. How much more present could you be in your life if you weren’t constantly thinking of what you needed to clean up? Now, there’s no right answer here, and I don’t wanna add to what you need to do.
The point is to find a few simple, doable ways to reduce the input so your mind is free to be where it is, and I challenge you to try it. And then keep going. This is a skill we want to learn. Remember, this is where mental wellness comes from. We live our lives in the now. It’s truly all we have, so let’s live it.
Let’s be here. I’m gonna do this challenge with you this week, so hop on over to Instagram and follow me at Amy Smooth Stones Coaching and let me know what you’re doing to stay more present this week. All right, I’ll see you next time.