By Paul Hall, Director in Consulting at Deloitte
Paul reveals his top tips to live in the present as part of the Green Ribbon Mental Health Awareness Month, promoting open conversation about mental health.
People often ask me how I manage to stay present and in the moment. The short answer is that I am not ALWAYS. I am just like everyone else where my mind is always active in the now, the past and thinking about the future (most often making assumptions that never actually happen). I try to be in the now and present as much as I can but like everything else it takes practice.
I think the most important thing, when it comes to living in the now, is awareness. If you realise that you are not present and constantly reflecting or projecting that, in itself, is a good start. You are becoming aware and, most likely, open to bringing yourself back to the now. It is really important not to judge yourself about how non-present your mind is at that time. Instead take comfort in the fact that you have realised this and now have an opportunity to address it. When this happens for me, I just breathe. If I am in position to take a step away from my current situation to just sit and breathe for a minute, I will do that. Just sitting and feeling the breath coming in and out really helps centre me and brings me back to the here and now. It really is simple and just takes a minute!
Here are some other handy tips to get you started.
- Number one for me is breathing. If you notice you are not present take time out and breathe for 60 seconds. Breathe in deeply for 6 seconds, hold for 2 seconds and release slowly for 8 seconds. Do this 5 or 6 times and you will be good to go.
- Put reminders in your phone 3 times per day to deliberately take a breather. Step away from where you are and perform the exercise above. You can do this as often as you like but I would suggest starting with 3 times a day.
- Take a walk out in the open air. Don’t bring your phone or any other distractions. Observe what you see, feel, hear and smell. Try and notice things that are not obvious to you. Enjoy the timeout.
- Limit your screen time.We are all generally in front of screens all day, so limit your exposure to screens when out of the office. Watching TV or being on your phone is one of the most mindless things you can do. If you watch specific shows on TV just record them and watch at a specific time. Otherwise, try to keep TV to a minimum.
- A good use of your phone is using a mindful app. I use Headspace as I find it very good. It works well for full mindfulness (and other) programmes as well as short 5-10 minute sessions.
- Read a good book. There is nothing better to bring you into the present than a good page turner. Although try not to read before bed as the stimulus could affect your sleep.
- Take up a hobby/sport again. This will keep you concentrating and in the now.
- Get a good quality sleep. Try and increase the amount of sleep you are currently getting by 30 minutes every day. That equates to 3.5 extra hours per week. It will help your concentration levels and productivity.
- Try and break your normal habits. If you sit in a regular seat in a meeting, change that. Mix it up!
- Finally, for a bit of fun, try brushing your teeth with the hand you don’t normally use. This will really make you concentrate and stay present!
Apart from the tips above, be thankful for the good things in your life. We are very lucky.
Deloitte are delighted to support May as Mental Health Awareness month in conjunction with the national Green Ribbon campaign. We put a strong focus on mental health awareness in the workplace and run a series of mental health awareness initiatives throughout the year.