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Holidays. Holidays. And more holidays. The end of the year is filled with things you want to enjoy to the max. And one of the keys to doing so is to make sure you are fully present in each moment
While this may seem obvious, it can actually be pretty hard to do. Things like scrolling through Instagram or running through your to-do list for the next day can easily (and mindlessly) take you out of the moment almost instantaneously and make it hard to reel yourself back in. Here, simple ways to avoid these pitfalls so you can enjoy the season in a more fully present way.
Remember how we mentioned that scrolling through your phone takes you out of the moment? It can actually do much more than this—it can also put you in a bad mood.
We all know by now that social media is mostly representative of everyone’s “highlight” reels. People post their engagement announcements or travel photos, but rarely show their toddler having a meltdown at the grocery store or the fact that they got food poisoning on said tropical trip.
Going through a scroll spiral can not only bubble up not-so-great feelings of inadequacy because you’re comparing your life to everyone else’s highlights, it also means you’re zeroed in on your device rather than enjoying whatever is going on in your life at the moment.
One way to combat mindless scrolling is to turn off push notifications. That way you’re not tempted by a home screen that’s constantly lighting up. Another option, if you are an iPhone user, is to go to your settings menu and turn off the color—this makes everything appear muted and gray. “Studies show that we are far less likely to spend excessive time on screens that show up in numerous shades of gray,” Donna McCulloch, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California.
Here’s an analogy: Say you hit the same local beach almost every weekend. You pack up your bags around the same time, stop to grab your iced vanilla latte at your local coffee shop and then drive the exact same route. When you arrive at the beach, you head to the same general area you always do to set up your stuff. There’s nothing wrong with this, but sticking to a routine can send us into auto-pilot and you may find that the more you do something, the less in the moment you are.
Thankfully, there’s an easy fix: Just switch things up. Even one little tweak to a routine can help you stay in the moment. For example, find a new coffee shop closer to the beach. Or resolve to head to a new part of the beach you haven’t frequented. Sitting in a beach chair in a different area can wake you up and make you appreciate the moment again.
The same idea can be applied to any routine you have in your life. Drive the same way to work? Try a new route. Always grab lunch at the same sandwich shop? Consider that new salad spot that just opened. By constantly trying new things, you’re forced to be more fully present.
Sipping on a pumpkin spice latte? Rather than just sucking it down, really pay attention to how it tastes. Do you notice the rich taste or warm temperature first? How does the warm coffee drink feel against the back of your throat? Focusing on the details of what you are doing can really help bring more awareness into every moment.
This practice is called mindfulness and the basic idea is to tune into what you’re thinking and feeling in each moment as a way of staying connected and grounded. Studies show there are a number of benefits to this way of thinking—it can lead to an overall happier overall disposition and may even help those with depression.
As you go about your plans this season, try little by little to be more mindful in each situation.When you pay attention to these joyful details, it’s almost impossible to let your mind wander.