by Dr. Marita Schauch, ND, Tall Tree Integrated, Health Centre –
“Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”
~ Bill Keane
A plethora of distractions bombards most of us daily. Whether we’re on our phones scrolling through Instagram, jumping from one app to the next, mulling over regrets from the past or worrying about the future, it can be challenging to stay in the present moment.
Not being present has adverse physical effects on the body and our nervous system. When consumed with past or future events, the body becomes chronically stressed, which can lead to many illnesses.
When we practise being present, the nervous system can come out of the sympathetic, fight-or-flight response and back into the parasympathetic or a calm state. When calm and living in the present moment, we are much more likely to plan something healthy. Instead of reaching for that unhealthy snack full of empty calories, we’re more likely to grab something healthy, like fruits and veggies. Why? Because we are connected to our bodies and listening to what it needs for nourishment.
The good news is that we have the power to calm our nervous systems so we can feel more vital in the face of adversity. Here are a few ways to come back into the present moment to help our bodies return to homeostasis and self-regulate:
Practise yoga. Mindful movement is not only good exercise, but by focusing on moving our bodies and feeling every sensation, we are naturally transported into the here and now.
Learn to meditate. By watching our thoughts, we learn the art of detachment. When we can observe thoughts and feelings without becoming identified, they no longer have as much power over us. Meditation is a helpful practice to see beyond the mental noise and distractions to become quieter, calmer and more present.
Do tactile things. Wear your favourite sweater, go swimming, take a relaxing bath with essential oils, curl up with your favourite blanket and sip some soothing, hot tea. Anything we can physically feel can help to calm our nervous systems and help us feel grounded.
Create a journaling practice. Often, we try to escape the present moment when we are struggling or unhappy. Create supportive self-care practices, like journaling, to help you navigate your emotions and cultivate gratitude. Looking back in your journal, and moments of gratitude can create feel-good hormones that help you be present
Organize. The brain loves organization, so take the time to purge kitchen cupboards and junk drawers, and minimize clothing. You will feel calm, organized, and ready to face the world.
One of the most effective ways to stay present is in your breath. When stressed or overthinking, take a long deep breath, and feel the power with each breath. Focusing on your breath can create powerful moments and bring you right back into your physical body. You can’t change the past, and you can’t predict the future; your best life is right here, right now.