Living Through Lockdown: Be Present
Posted on 27th April 2020 at 17:42
‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why it’s called the present.’
We all spend so much of our lives time travelling, we barely notice it. Travelling into the past with our thoughts to find things to beat ourselves up with, then projecting ourselves into the future to worry, creating stress, anxiety and pain, much of which could be avoided if we simply stayed in the present.
Joy is found in the Now
Yes, we need to go to the past from time to time – that’s where fond memories and useful lessons lie. Yes, we need to go to the future in order to plan and there can be pleasure in anticipation. Joy however is found in the now, in noticing what is happening right this second, experiencing emotions as they happen, then letting them go to move to the next one.
Trying to identify our feelings
Even if it sounds easy, many of us find it challenging to identify what we're feeling. Since we're taught to avoid or ignore unpleasant feelings, or we're numbing out with our phone, a glass of wine or raiding the fridge, we may not be conscious of what we're feeling in this moment. Now more than ever we have the time to sit down and try to identify what is going on inside - remembering that it might not be what we expect. Numbness, listlessness, irritability, or a general feeling of anxiety are very common things to be feeling right now.
Living through uncertainty
The situation we are in is one of extreme uncertainty. We don’t know what will happen, how long it will go on for, or what things will be like when it’s over. It’s very easy to let your brain to escalate with lots of frightening possibilities and outcomes and blow everything up into a full-blown panic. One thing we do know is that worrying about it won’t change a thing. It’s very easy to become fixated on what’s going on, especially by watching the relentless news bulletins and seeing a social media stream full of Covid. Learning how to get through the uncertainty is a part of building healthy coping skills for ourselves and our families. Being present will help to ground you and move away from a place of worry and uncertainty.
Here are some tips to help you to be present:
Stand outside if you can or open a window if you can’t go out and close your eyes.
Take notice of what you can now hear. Birds, insects, cars, no cars.
Breathe in. What can you smell? What can you feel with your fingertips? Now what are you feeling?
Focus on what’s right in front of you, without distraction.
Look around you and see things for the first time.
You might notice that bird song gets louder, scents get more noticeable, your skin becomes more sensitive to the breeze or the fabric under your fingertips. You are now in the present moment. Find yourself time travelling again? Bring yourself back to the now by refocusing on your senses and surroundings again. Yes, it might take some practice -so don’t give up on your first attempt! (The NHS also have great tips for practicing mindfulness here.)
Why would you want to be present? Your memory and your imagination can keep you dwelling on the past and get you panicking about your future. Worrying doesn’t improve your life. Being present reduces stress and can have some positive health benefits, such as helping with blood pressure, as well as improving your overall wellbeing. Being present shuts off your mental chatter, the voice in your head. This allows you to tune into your senses, help you feel calm and centred, relaxed, and feeling more positive. It opens you up to experience things without preconceived ideas and removes barriers.
Practice Makes Present
The more you practice being present, the more benefits you will become aware of. If you notice that the knot in your stomach appeared the moment somebody said the word “exams,” it’s a lot easier to think about the feeling as a normal, passing reaction, and not fall into a snowball of negative thoughts that send you into a panic.
Being present can also help you to listen, as you’re not thinking about what’s happening next. This is a particularly useful skill to have, especially as we’re all experiencing grief, even if it is at different intensities. Grievers need to be heard and being present means that you can listen without interjection and be with people in the present moment.
Our next point is about being emotionally honest. Being present will assist you with this.
Have you seen our Top 5 tips for living through lockdown?
Take a look at our 5-point Plan for how to cope, improve your relationships and start feeling better today:
2. Be present
5. Say goodbye
Looking to expand your in-depth knowledge?
Would you like to speak to someone or are considering a Grief Recovery programme? Click here to find an online Specialist who can help you right away.
If you would like more information on how to cope with the current coronavirus crisis, see also:
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