How to practice being present

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Most of us are bombarded by a plethora of distractions on a daily basis. Whether we’re continually scrolling through Instagram, planning the week ahead, or worrying about the future, it can be difficult to stay in the present moment. 

But when we’re not present, i.e. living in the past or the future, our nervous systems are affected. When we are incessantly consumed with past or future events, our bodies become chronically stressed, which can lead to many illnesses and auto-immune diseases.

When we are present in the moment, our nervous systems can come out of the sympathetic, fight-or-flight response and back into the parasympathetic, calm state.  When we are relaxed and present, we naturally begin to make choices that better serve our health. Instead of reaching for that unhealthy snack full of empty calories, we’re more likely to grab something healthy, like fruits or veggies, because we are more connected to our bodies and in touch with what they need for nourishment. 

The good news is that we have the power to both calm our nervous systems and strengthen them so that we are stronger in the face of adversity. Here are a few ways to come back into the present moment to help our bodies return to homeostasis and self-regulate:

1. Practice yoga

Mindful movement is not only good exercise, but by focussing on moving our bodies and feeling every sensation, we are naturally transported into the here and now.

2. Learn to meditate

By watching our thoughts, we learn the art of detachment. When we can observe thoughts and feelings without becoming identified to them, they no longer have as much power over us. Meditation is a helpful practice to see beyond the mental noise and distractions to become quieter, calmer, and more present. 

3. Do tactile things

Wear your favourite sweater, go swimming, have a hot bath, curl up with your favourite blanket and sip some soothing, hot tea. Anything we can physically feel can help to calm our nervous systems and help us feel grounded. 

4. Create a journaling practice

Often we try to escape the present moment when we are struggling or unhappy. Create supportive self-care practices, like journalling, to help you navigate your emotions and cultivate gratitude. 

Riley Webster