By Charles Herrick, MD, Chair of Psychiatry at Nuvance Health
August is the “last” full month of summer, a time when families shift from vacation mode to school mode. College students leave home again creating empty nests. Snowbirds may be making their plans to pack up and head south in another month or two.
These preparations can bring feelings of sadness and even depression to some. The last vacation for the year is over. The evenings are getting colder. Parents and children focus on what’s coming – alarm clocks, crisp mornings and falling leaves. They worry about new projects, teachers and obligations. During this time, it can be very difficult to focus on the present, forgetting that the present can be an ideal place to live.
Here, Dr. Charles Herrick, Nuvance Health’s chair of psychiatry, shares eight tips on how to live in the moment, and not let the to-do lists or the changing seasons cause dread or defeat.
- Stop and smell the roses. This is another way of saying notice your surroundings. Look around and see what’s around you ‑ tall buildings, a coffee cup, cracks in the sidewalk and yes, even the flowers that may be shedding their last blooms.
- Limit multitasking. Try to focus on one task at a time, giving it all your attention. When you multitask, you are not fully engaged. You can become overwhelmed and make mistakes.
- Be grateful. Appreciate what you have and practice by writing down three things you are thankful for each day. This is a great exercise before bed or first thing in the morning.
- Meditate. A daily meditation practice allows you to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, allowing you to spend more time in the present. Over time, meditating on a routine basis brings calm and focus to your present state.
- Deep breathing exercises. Being aware of your breath instantly brings you into the present moment. Taking slow, methodical breaths engages you, alleviates stress and gives you control of that moment.
- Exercise. Physical activity, such as yoga, helps your mind stay focused on the poses and movements you are doing and not the chatter in your head.
- Socialize. Spending time with friends and family, particularly ones who bring you joy and positivity, is a great way to live in the present moment, allowing you to focus on conversations and your surroundings.
- Put the phone down. Checking social media, emails and other online temptations, distracts you from what is going on around you. Try to take technology breaks especially when around other people.
Living in the moment does take effort but incorporating some or all of these ways into your daily routine can help you stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, thereby bringing you into a happy and healthy present state.
Learn more about behavioral and mental health care at Nuvance Health.