How I Stay Present
Practice makes perfect when it comes to living in the moment. These eight simple techniques are what work best for me.
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
That’s why it’s so important for me to keep my focus on the present. But the meaning behind that saying didn’t crystallize for me until after I gave birth to Canon, my third child.
“Being present is about enjoying the space you’re in, before it passes you by.”
I had a really rough pregnancy and I was in and out of the hospital. Less than eight weeks after having Canon, I started working again. I was shooting a TV show, and trying to pump and do all these things simultaneously, and eventually I realized that to be the best me for the people in my life, I needed to stop feeling guilty about taking care of myself.
So often, we set goals for ourselves, we reach them, and we don’t take the time to bask in them. It’s always, “What’s next?” For me, being present is about enjoying the space you’re in, before it passes you by. Here’s what works for me right now:
The number one thing for me is prayer. I’m Christian and have my beliefs, but no matter what you believe in, it’s vital to stay grounded in something bigger than yourself. I start and end the day with my prayers, a conversation with God. I could be in my car in the middle of the day and just stop and pray. It’s a way for me to show my gratitude for all the blessings that I have, no matter how stressful things get.
Meditate your way
I’m not huge on meditation apps because sometimes the voices get on my nerves! But I do use an app called Abide. It’s scripture-based, and it leaves you with something to take into your day, like finding moments of gratitude. I have less anxiety because I know God is always with me.
Treat yourself from the outside in
To be there for the people who need me, I have to take care of myself both physically and mentally, no matter how chaotic life gets. Self-neglect has dangerous consequences down the road, so having a routine and taking a little time on my own every day ensures I stay happy and healthy. For me, a consistent skin-care regimen is a big deal. I’m learning not to feel guilty about that because it makes me a better mom—I’m simply more present and engaged.
Find and nurture a creative outlet
After the kids are in bed, I’ll sometimes go in the kitchen and create something new. For instance, my husband and kids don’t enjoy chocolate. So I like to get experimental with desserts using really good chocolate late at night when it’s just me who will enjoy it. Whatever your thing is, be sure that you have a creative outlet for it so you don’t get so absorbed or “momming” that you forget to nurture yourself.
Take a heat retreat
Lately, I’ve enjoyed going into the sauna. It detoxifies my skin and opens up my lungs. Whenever I come out of it, I feel like a new person and I can breathe better. If you don’t have access to a sauna, try the infrared sauna blanket from HigherDose.
Feel your feelings
I went on a mindfulness retreat to ring in the new year. One of the things I learned there is that when we suppress our emotions, they fester and get worse. We’re emotional beings by nature, and it’s important to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling in any given moment, and let it pass on its own.
Move with focus
I really like to go horseback riding. I’m able to turn my mind off and focus on what I’m doing. If you’re thinking about anything else—groceries, work, whatever— your horse isn’t going to do a darned thing! It’s called “Equus therapy” for a reason.
Engage the family
We have devotionals that we read together as a large, extended family. Right now, we’re reading the Bible on The Bible App. Our family is spread out across the country, so a group text chain is the perfect way for us all to check in. That holds everyone accountable. The Bible App has so many different plans that you can tailor to your needs and pace.
As featured in the pages of Sweet July Magazine. Photographs by Thayer Gowdy.