We often joke in the office that the word “busy” would appear to need a new definition as it seems to have become the standard response to the question: “How are you?”
Think about it, when you are asked ‘how you are,’ or you ask someone ‘how’s it going?’ What are the most common responses? We asked around and got a plethora of “things are just so busy at the moment,” “I’m good, you know the usual, busy,” “Same old here,” for which they all simply meant tired.
If this is the new “norm”, then it makes you wonder what the word is for those crunch times, when you are even more busier than normal! What a thought… words like exhausted and burnt out come to mind.
There has been much research on the positive impacts of being present, even we ourselves have found it a core component for being more positively energized. While I have many friends who practice meditation or go on silent retreats every so often, I have never found it easy to quiet my own mind. I am the type of person that finds sitting in silence just to focus on my own breathing to be a challenge. But like all behavioral change, the trick is to start in small, focused steps. So, in an attempt to bring more reflection and peaceful meditation into my life, I started with small steps that easily fit into my lifestyle. Weeks of taking small steps turned into months, and slowly, they have become a sustained habit providing me with a newfound comfort in silence. Eventually, this enabled me to improve on my ability to quiet my mind for longer periods of time.
When you feel like you have no time to spend on self-care activities such as being present, it is important to find ways to fit it into your life. By fitting it into your life, in small doses, it becomes a natural behavior from which you can improve, enhance, and grow out further.
While there are many ways to inject a little of being in the here and now into life – here are 3 of the ways I started out!
The 60 second shower pause
The shower has long been a place where my mind naturally eases and stimulates an active thought process where I discover new ideas and solutions to problems that have been a stressor for me all week. It is also normally a time when you are alone with your thoughts. Adding on 60 seconds, is doable for anyone, and will most likely go unnoticed by those that may need your attention in the morning.
1: Add an extra 60 seconds to the shower: after the mind clears and the “official” shower is over, take another 60 seconds.
2: Just be: feel the water and let your mind wander and wonder. If you find it difficult, it can be helpful to focus on how the water feels, try feeling each drop as hits you, and focus on the warmth of the water in that relaxing sauna feel.
I have found that this small moment, this small pause, clears the mind and charges me up to face the day. I have also found that I can get an idea, or figure out something that was on my mind – so as soon as I am done, I write it down so that I do not forget it!
The 60 second moment of gratitude
I am someone who generally feels gratitude for what I have and who I have in my life. The positive effects of gratitude are plenty from increased resilience to better health, and, in the most challenging moments, remembering this can have tremendous positive impact. Bringing this practice into everyday life and making space for purposeful thought on what I am grateful for has expanded my awareness and appreciation for the very smallest of wonderful things that happen. It also keeps me on track with making sure I express this gratitude to those that I need to.
1: Pick a moment when people are unlikely to interrupt you: for me that’s getting changed in the morning or evening.
2: Find something to focus on: for me it is a candle that I light and then I can look at it to focus myself.
3: Say to yourself ‘what am I grateful and thankful for today day, and why?’: the key here is to be specific, and for greater impact, acknowledge the people that you are grateful for.
The 60 seconds of awe
Another easy moment to inject 60 seconds of being in the present is just before you go into the office. Now, sometimes you are rushing because you are late to that meeting – but most times, another 60 seconds will not be a big deal.
1: Stop before you go into the office for 60 seconds: for me, this is in my car once parked.
2: Notice the nature around you: how many leaves are on the tree, how many shades of green are there, the petals on a flower, the shape of clouds in the sky…If you happen to be somewhere without any nature to look at then looking at videos can help too, or listening to music. However, you have to really listen, to the instruments, the words…not listening while thinking of other things. The key is to just get lost in the beauty of the world around you and take a moment off from focusing on the stressful tasks at hand.
A little injection of awe, and focusing the mind on the present can do wonders before entering the office! It can make us be more cooperative, stimulate wonder and curiosity, as well as making us feel like we have more time!
Once I started, I noticed how it became a part of my normal behaviors – for instance, stopping and noticing the awesome shades of leaves in fall or taking pause and breathing when I need to…What works for us as individuals will differ, the important thing is finding what works for you and your life!