Staying present in lockdown
July 20 2020
Do you constantly think about the future? How you want your career to progress, where you want to live, what kind of holiday you want next year... Or are you someone who dwells on the past? Whether it’s remembering painful memories, criticizing things you should’ve done or being lost in moments you wish you could relive.
Our minds often flicker between the past and the future, which can mean we forget to live in the current moment. Becoming present can help you to be more aware of the world around you and the part you play in it. During lockdown, you may have found it harder than ever to do this.
Past and future
What we need to realize and often forget is that the past has gone, we cannot change it and we can’t always change how we feel about it. Reliving these memories can mean we let precious time in the ‘now`, slip away. As for the future, we can’t control the way it goes, we can set out goals and good intentions, but in the end we have no way of deciding how things play out. Remembering that there is no telling which way life will go helps you to recognize what’s important currently.
Here’s a few useful ways you can help your mind from drifting to these places and embrace the present:
Stay in the moment
Pause, look around you and notice what is happening. Engage with your senses thinking about the sounds you can hear, what you can smell and what you can feel. There is no need to judge or comment on them, just gently make yourself aware that they are there in the moment with you.
With increased news about the Coronavirus on the news, social media and radio, you might feel your worries and fears are being heightened about what is going to happen in the future. To face these uncertainties, we must first accept them. Letting go of any ‘what ifs’, allows you to live a calmer, stress-free life in the present.
Identify how you feel
We often forget to really think about what’s going on inside. Recognising your emotions helps you to know what you’re experiencing ‘right now’.
We are sometimes taught to push down our feelings and avoid thinking about them. Living in the present means acknowledging that those emotions are there. Try scanning your body and think about what sensations your feelings arise. For instance, if you’re feeling anxious you might experience a tight chest or knots in the stomach.
Make time for yourself
Finding some time for yourself is important not just to stay present but for your mental wellbeing. During lockdown it can be easy for work-life to become blurred, especially if you’re working from home. To manage this create a schedule that prioritizes your down time and gives you enough time to get everything else in your life done without stress.
Connect with your loved ones
Remember to reach out to the people around you and appreciate their time. If you live with a loved one, finding time to connect can be difficult, one of the best ways is through mindful eating. Next time you’re at the dinner table together, discuss the senses the food gives you; e.g. what it tastes like, what the aromas remind you of… etc. This gives you quality time to talk, share and embrace each other’s presences.
Detach yourself from your phone
Our phones can be a great distraction while doing mundane tasks like waiting for an appointment, travelling on public transport or simply to pass the time. For many of us the first thing we do when waking up in the morning is check our phones, the attachment we have with our phones can take away precious time in the present. Next time you find yourself reaching for your phone, try to stop yourself, think about why you are going to look at it and if you really need to.
Learn about mindfulness
Mindfulness teaches you to pay attention to your thoughts, sounds, the sensations around your body and your breathing. Practising mindfulness can help you to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness in your day and accept everything you feel. To achieve mindfulness, try practices like meditation or yoga.