How to Practice Being Present When Your Stress Levels Seem Impossible to Manage

Being Present

There is a quote that says, “Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.” This mantra is the perfect reflection of mindfulness, the psychological process of bringing one's attention to the present moment. Mindfulness and being present have many benefits, including stress reduction, positivity, increased focus, and improved memory.

Being present isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. The ability to completely be yourself and to be fully here without distraction is a powerful way to reshape your mind in a more positive direction. If you’ve ever felt stressed at work or about your future, read on! 

Once you become aware of the thoughts, feelings, or moods you are having, or where your attention is, and the content of those thoughts or feelings or moods or where your attention is fixated, you will notice which level of existence, state, condition or mood you are in at any given time. You will begin to also notice how often you are in the past, present or future.
— Knowledgism

Here's a situation we can all relate to. Say you work in an office and you know there is a job opening in the pipeline, one that would be your dream to land. You would have more creative freedom, more managerial responsibilities, and more money in your paycheck, which you may desperately need. You know that you’ll need to put in the work to stand out, and the uncertainty causes you great stress. You may ask yourself, “What if I don’t get the job?” or “If I don’t get the job, how will I manage my current financial situation?” Perhaps you even begin comparing yourself to other candidates, thinking, “Susan has worked hard this year and our manager seems to like her better. How do I stand a chance?”

“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.” Reflect on this quote again for a moment. If you spend your day worrying about this potential promotion, you may not be spending as much time getting your work done to the best of your ability. You may bring your stress home to your family. You may even take on a palpable negative attitude in the office. However, if you bring yourself back to the present, you can learn to focus on exactly what is in your control at any given moment. You can observe yourself and improve yourself in tangible ways. You can clear your mind, reduce your stress, and adopt a more positive energy to carry you through. Ever heard of the Law of Attraction? This is the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into a person's life. Always be sure you’re putting out positive vibes, and good things will come!

Here are three ways to stay present:

1. Breathe.

Try the 5x5 Breathing Exercise. Sit with your back straight and your hands in your lap. Breathe in for five seconds, hold for five seconds, and breathe out for five seconds. Repeat this flow until you feel more calm, clear-headed, and aware. This will steady your heart rate and give you something else to focus on other than your stressors.

2.  Focus on your surroundings.

Here’s another counting exercise that many people suffering from anxiety disorders use to bring themselves back to the present. If you feel your stress mounting, take a deep breath and look around at your surroundings. Find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This works in a similar way to the 5x5 Breathing Exercise but also brings you back in touch with the body’s senses, allowing you to appreciate your being and how it supports you every day. 

3. Let go.

Stay in the present moment by letting go of tomorrow’s worries. There is another saying I like to abide by: “If it won’t matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes dwelling on it.” Similarly, if your problem isn’t something that can be fixed in five minutes, don’t allow it to cause you prolonged stress. Search for the steps you can take right now and check off those boxes. This will help you feel accomplished and will keep you moving in the right direction in a way you can manage. If your stress is caused by a person, practice forgiveness (this includes forgiving yourself!). And above all, if you’re trying your best, cut yourself some slack. Be kind to yourself and that energy will flow through to all aspects of your life.

Chasing Nirvana Yoga offers on-site yoga and wellness classes to decrease stress in community spaces and bring individuals back to the present moment. If you’re interested in learning more, or if you would like to speak with one of our experts for a personalized consultation, please visit us online at www.chasingnirvanayoga.com.