How often do you find yourself getting lost in your own thoughts? Do you feel like you’re always living in your head rather than in the present moment?
The good news is that there are small steps you can take to cultivate more presence in your life.
And I really do mean small steps. Because when you’re in the middle of a solid spiral of overthinking, the last thing you need is a solution that makes you feel like you've been tossed into the deep end of mindfulness. Your brain is already overwhelmed.
It would be like someone who has never lifted weights before trying to start out squatting 100 pounds. That would be bananas, right?
We don’t want strategies that are so intense that they just leave you feeling more exhausted and anxious. Just like if you went too hard in your first gym workout, trying to tackle an hour-long meditation practice can leave you feeling so tired, unprepared, and frustrated that you’re reluctant to try again.
That’s not how you create long-term health—for your body or your mind!
We want strategies that are easy and effective. Techniques that bring you back to the present moment and are gentle enough to keep returning to them day after day, even when your days are full of a million other things.
Ready to get started on building that mindfulness muscle?
Here are five strategies to get you started. Think of them as resistance-band training for your mind—gentle, effective, and easy to do anywhere.
Tip #1 - Practice Mindful Breathing
One of the simplest ways to be more present is to focus on your breathing. Take a few minutes each day to sit quietly and simply observe your breath. Notice the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body.
If your mind starts to wander, don’t beat yourself up over it. Gently bring your attention back to your breath, and know that noticing that your mind is wandering is actually part of the exercise—we’re learning to be conscious about where our thoughts live and flow.
This practice can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and can help you feel more grounded in the present moment.
If you’re looking for some help getting started, check out this TikTok where I walk you through a mindful breathing moment.
Tip #2 - Engage Your Senses
What we miss when we’re all up in our heads is everything that’s happening around us in the moment. By shifting our focus to our sensory experiences, we’re training our brain how to transition back into the present.
Take a minute to notice the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures around you. This can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths and noticing the smell of fresh air, or taking time to really savor the taste of your food during your lunch break.
Allow yourself to enjoy and experience life every day. Your senses give you the opportunity to get out of your head and slip into peaceful appreciation of the here-and-now.
Mindful Parenting Tip: I will often take a quick mindful break with my preteen using the five senses. I'll go through each one and ask him, "What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? etc..." It's a simple way to help them build awareness and become more mindful.
Tip #3 - Practice Gratitude
Gratitude was the first new discipline I consciously adopted, and now I understand how it altered the wiring in my brain for the better.
It’s a powerful way to cultivate presence and mindfulness. Take a few minutes each day to reflect on the things in your life that you're thankful for. And don’t just stop at the things that instantly come to mind. The warmth of the sun on your skin, the smell of freshly cut grass, the support of a friend or family member—these are all things worth acknowledging if they make your life richer.
You have a choice: take things for granted or take them with gratitude. And I'm telling you, friend, which one you choose can change your entire life because the secret to "having it all" is being thankful for all that you have.
Tip #4 - Take a (much-needed) Break from Technology
Technology can be a major distraction, which blocks us from being able to stay in the present. Constantly checking our devices for notifications and updates can create a sense of urgency and stress, which can negatively impact our mental well-being.
If you find yourself constantly checking your phone or scrolling through social media, try taking a break from technology. Regularly.
Turn off your phone (and computer) for a set period of time each day, or take a break from social media for a week. It's SO LIBERATING!!
Taking breaks from our devices helps us keep a healthy balance between our online and real lives. It can also help us connect with the people around us in a more meaningful way.
Here’s a 5 Day Digital Detox plan to help get you started on creating boundaries with your devices.
Tip #5 - Enjoy Mindful Movement
Finally, practicing mindful movement can be a great way to cultivate presence and clarity.
Take a taking walk in your neighborhood and try to focus on the rhythm of each step or simply enjoy the beautiful clouds in the sky. Head to your nearest park or spend time hiking in nature really noticing the sights and sounds around you. You could even find ways to do a more structured practice, like yoga or pilates.
When you move mindfully, you bring your attention to your body and your breath, and you allow your focus to stay in the present moment.
Being more present and mindful in our daily lives is a practice that takes conscious effort, but it can lead to big benefits. When we’re mindful, we become more aware of our surroundings, thoughts, and emotions. We can better manage stress, anxiety, and challenges that pop up in the day. Plus, mindfulness helps us feel more connected to others and to the world around us.
Small steps each day can help you get out of your head and into the many blessings waiting to be noticed. Try incorporating these five practices into your daily routine—or try one each day of the week and see how they can help you feel more grounded, focused, and present in the moment. Remember, being mindful is a journey, not a destination, and every step counts towards a happier, more peaceful, and fulfilling life.