The Importance of Living in the present

In this post, our blogger Esther Dark shares her favourite ways to stay happy and healthy by living in the present.

It was firework night and I was standing on Blackheath common, it was a clear evening and I was so eager to capture some amazing photos of the fireworks to wow my friends on social media. However, I was too preoccupied with trying to find the best filter on my camera, that I actually missed out on seeing the grand finale entirely. Instead of enjoying being in the moment and watching the fireworks with my family and friends I was so focused on the end product, that the moment soon passed, robbing me of a shared family memory.

Sometimes we are get caught up and absorbed in the future, our eyes firmly fixed towards the next magical “if” and “when” moments, that we overlook the beauty of the now. Or perhaps we become absorbed with negativity, conjuring up monsters in our minds, or mountains that obscure our view, robbing us of yet another memory.  Likewise spending too much time reliving the past with rose tinted glasses prevents us from appreciating new ventures and opportunities. Life can turn into a litany of “Life will get better when… I’ll begin recovery when… Life was better when… “

Moving forward in recovery from a mental health illness can be difficult if we focus on the negative, dwelling in uneasy memories of the past or are stopped by dreams of the “not now but one day”. Staying present, being content and living in the now is really problematic for many, but here are some ways of enjoying the now:

Stay focused

Forget multi-tasking, instead centre your energy on a particular person or task at hand and you will find that you will be able to accomplish more with excellence and effectiveness, than if you tried to juggle a number of conflicting priorities. This could simply mean not having so many different tabs open on the computer and being fully engaged with one thing at a time, or switching off your phone when spending quality time with a friend.

Use breathing to centre you in the moment

Take a few moments to take some deep breaths to calm yourself down before taking action or making drastic choices based on erratic emotions or irrational thoughts. There is always time in any given situation to stop, pause and breathe.

Stop comparing

Nobody likes change. When changes occur we often end up comparing and wanting things to be what they once were, but life is made up of seasons and being content with who we are and what we have is important to be able to move on from the past.  

Gratitude

Focus on the good times! At the end of your day why not count your blessings, read a thoughtful card someone posted to you, or look at a photo of your friends and family, and allow positive experiences and relationships to be your focus. No day will ever be perfect and sometimes they may be very dark and lonely but choose to focus on happy moments, rather than painful ones.

Ground yourself

It can be easy to be overwhelmed by the future or feel tortured by the past, but focus on the moment. You are not there, you are here. Look around and ground yourself in the moment.

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