Sometimes life can be pretty demanding. Between responsibilities and obligations, it may feel like there’s just not enough time in the day. Rushing from home to work, from work to a meeting, from a meeting back to the office, and on and on. Then you add the use of social media, television and mindless stimulation which zaps what’s left of our precious, finite attention.

When we live in this state of constant stimulation and consumption of media/entertainment, we can forget what it means to actually live in the real world.  

The average teen consumes around 9 hours per day of media. That is a lot of time just feeding your mind constant information. It’s the mental equivalent of binge eating 5,000 empty calories, every day for the rest of your life.

We weren’t designed to live like this.

So, what can we do about it? Why not take this holiday season as a chance to break the cycle and start practicing being present to the moment?

“Being present to the moment” may sound like vague, new-age advice, but it’s actually very simple and practical.

It’s just doing things that bring your attention to where you are and what you happen to be doing. Bringing your awareness to what is directly in front of you and taking it off of the million and one things rattling around in your head.

There are a lot of easy ways to do this. Let’s take a look at some practical methods we can use to draw our attention into the moment. They just might bring a little more space, time and peace into your life.

Get Unplugged

The first thing that we would recommend is to unplug from needless media consumption. Give your mind a break from the constant influence of information. Log out of YouTube, Twitter, and other common distractions and perform activities that encourage focusing on a single activity at a time.

Read a book, clean your car, make a home-cooked meal.  You can get creative with it – the important point is to commit to an activity that requires your full attention. This might be hard for you at first because your brain is likely used to multi-tasking at all times and it craves stimuli, but stick with it and allow your focus to settle on one solitary activity.

Appreciate the Little Things

Another way to force your attention onto the present moment is to use your senses to appreciate the subtle details. Since we spend so much of our time in a distracted state, we frequently miss a lot of the little things that add beauty and depth to our lives.  

Visit a park and observe the sights in your surroundings. Feel the cool air against your skin. Breathe in that fresh, crisp air. Listen to the sounds emanating from the distance. Sit in the stillness and enjoy this peaceful moment.

Even doing nice things for others can help us to value the things we often forget about. Try using LARKR’s free “Be The Change” feature and get reminders to do a good deed for others as well as reminders to treat yourself.

Practice Meditation

Another activity that disrupts your mind’s constant chatter is to engage in breathing exercises. You may have heard of this method as it’s becoming a more common practice; however, breathing exercises and meditation can be misunderstood. Don’t think about it too hard, as there’s no right or wrong way. Simply use your breath as a focal point for your attention and focus on that for a few minutes at a time.

Find a quiet spot where you can be alone and sit comfortably for 5-10 minutes. Once ready, just start by inhaling deeply through the nose and hold for a couple of seconds. Exhale through your mouth until you’re out of breath. Your breathing should be done slowly and calmly. While breathing, place all of your awareness on this one act. Hear the sound, feel the sensation. If you catch yourself thinking, bring your attention back to your breathing.

During these exercises, you are attempting to recalibrate your mind from one that is frantically thinking without direction to one that is immersed in the current moment. Resist the compulsion to be “doing something.” There’s nowhere you need to be, nothing you should be doing. There’s nothing quite so important that you can’t spend 5 minutes to collect peace of mind.

It may seem a little confusing and most people find it difficult in the beginning. We know how people can struggle with meditation, but we also know just how beneficial it can be. Using LARKR’s free guided meditations is a great way for individuals of any age to get started.

There are many other ways to train your mind to become more present to the moment, but these are great starting points. With regular practice you will find yourself with a new sense of peace in your life to enjoy what matters most.

LARKR is designed to match you with qualified therapists and mental health specialists directly from your phone. Try the app today if you would like to speak with or seek advice from an experienced professional about anything going on in your life.

Approximately 50 million Americans experience mental illness each year, but nearly 60% go untreated. Take a step to end the suffering by seeking help from the comfort of your own home.