When was the last time you stopped and looked at the world around you? Just simply let your mind be still from the daily grind and be calm? It could be something as simple as sitting on the porch or stoop with a glass of iced tea and listening to the sounds around you.
Too often we find ourselves becoming anxious or depressed by worrying about the future or fretting over the past. We are so used to letting our thoughts control us instead of us controlling them that it’s difficult to stop thinking about what we’re doing or need to do.
Get Out of Your Head
In order to relax and live in the moment we need to become “mindful.” This happens when we simply let our thoughts come and go without grabbing hold and focusing on them. Let go of the mental chatter and concentrate on what is happening around you at that moment in time. Not only does this help you to become more unselfconscious, but it also helps your experiences become more enjoyable while preventing you from over-analyzing things.
Savor the Moment
When you are able to remove your self-consciousness from the picture, you can then move on to the next step: stop worrying about the future or ruminating about the past so that you can focus on the present. Being in the here and now, enjoying it, relishing what you are doing, is called ‘savoring’. Slow down to enjoy a cup of tea, indulge in your favorite meal, or take the dog for a walk around the block.
Lose Track of Time
Of course the best way to live in the moment is to lose track of time and everything else around you. Yes, this is a paradox, but by losing track of time, by being so focused on what you are doing you push away the distractions that would normally keep you from living in the moment.
At the same time, you need to keep yourself from zoning out which is not the same. So that you’re not operating on autopilot, pay attention to the here and now. When you are commuting to work, take a moment to look at the trees along the road. Look at the people around you. This will keep the world looking new and keep you in the moment.
Embrace Your Feelings
Learning to be mindful so that you can live in the moment also means that you need to accept the things that hurt or bother you. We tend to avoid things that cause us pain and distress; this actually causes more harm because the pain is intensified. Instead of pushing the emotions away, embrace them. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to scream, scream. You don’t have to like what is happening, but by accepting it you are giving yourself permission to work through the pain and loss in your own way.
Get in Control
It takes time and patience to learn how to relax and let go. But when you do, you will be happier and more secure in your life, as well as more empathetic of the people around you. Your self-esteem will increase and your health will improve. You’ll even see a positive change in your romantic relationships.
Finally, consider talking to a qualified mental health professional who can work with you using cognitive behavioral therapy to help develop effective relaxation techniques and productive life skills.