As someone who has dealt with a lot of transition and change, focusing too much on the future or dwelling on the past began to take over my life. I was constantly planning and strategizing my activities for the weekend or even months down the road. I would constantly be telling myself "if I could just get to this day…" or "once I get to this day…" When those days came, they went in the blink of an eye. Then what?
The anxiety that I felt of the unknown of how plans would roll out made me overwhelmed with a feeling of worry and the need to figure things out. I needed to plan certain things that were weeks down the road.
I quickly discovered myself reflecting on the day, not even recognizing what happened or the happiness I should have been getting out of the things I enjoyed. Dancing is one of my favorite things and I couldn't even enjoy dance class because I was thinking about how I was going to finish my homework that weekend. Anxiety and worry about the future took away my happiness.
So when I couldn't even enjoy my greatest passion, I was determined to change my mentality. I wanted to cherish the life I was living.
Here are five tips that helped me stay in the present:
Noticing your breath and sending that breath to certain parts of your body is very helpful in feeling what is going on right now. By focusing on your breath and how it makes you feel, you can stay in touch with your "today" self. Feeling what your body feels today helps you move away from worrying about what it will feel like tomorrow.
2. Make a to-do list
When you wake up in the morning, write a list of what you need to accomplish that day and that day only. Setting daily goals and determining what needs to be achieved one day at a time can help organize your train of thought. If it is on your list to figure out weekend plans, then that's great. But, if you are supposed to be grocery shopping and you're researching vacation spots for your summer vacation, then you're off track. A lot of times I would find myself not completing the things I needed to in the day because I was so focused on planning out the future.
3. Be okay with the unknown
Who said you had to know it all? Who said you have to figure out everything that would happen to you? Some of the most beautiful things come from surprises. It is okay not to know everything. It is okay to just go with the flow. The earlier you begin telling yourself, the earlier you can enjoy your life. What would your life be if you knew everything? I know. Boring.
4. Try new things
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut of doing the same things each and every day. This could make us bored with the life we are living, thus forcing us to worry about things out of our control. If you make a goal to try one new thing each day, then your focus will be on each singular day. By going one day at a time, you can remain present with yourself and enjoy the day and each new thing you try.
5. Stay social
My last bit of advice would be to socialize with your friends and colleagues. People are the biggest distractions from your worries and will help to reduce that anxiety you're feeling. By socializing, you can relax and push away those thoughts of planning and predicting. A large factor of anxiety for the future is multi-tasking. This could involve sitting in class and worrying about next month or working on a project but planning what to eat for dinner tomorrow night. If you stay social and surround yourself with those that make you happy, your worries will start seeming irrelevant.
I know these tips might appear easier said than done and they aren't an exact science to staying in the present. I am, by no means, a master myself. However, I have instilled these practices in my day-to-day life and I am happier for it. Notice and be present in each moment of your day. By doing so, life won't fly by without you experiencing what you are participating in. You only get one life to live, so why not enjoy it? Why rush to get to the finish line?
Live each day one at a time and relish in this beautiful gift of life.