Let’s start with what we all want during the holiday season… we want to be present in the moment. When you’re working, you want to be efficiently effective. When you’re with friends & family you want to be there.
We’ve all heard the common advice for being present… put your phone away, set time boundaries, get off social media, etc. Frankly, all good advice that you should follow.
Here’s what I’ve found, all those best advice tactics are difficult, if not impossible to follow if your mind is spinning and you’re not prepared. A spinning, anxious, cluttered mind is the breeding ground for not being present in the moments that matter most to you.
Here are 5 simple mental exercises you can do to ensure that you’re prepped for staying present – especially in the holiday season.
Set & Accomplish Activity Goals
For most of the private clients I work with, their business takes up tons of mental real estate. As high achievers, that’s where we focus a tremendous amount of energy. And that’s a really good thing.
However, that focus can override our mind with all the things we want to do even when we would like to be mentally & physically present with our friends/family.
A great way to stay present at home is by winning at work. How do you know you’ve won? Set daily or weekly activity goals and achieve them.
Ask: “what do I need to accomplish [today/this week] such that I’ll feel like I’ve won?” Get clear on what winning looks like. Work like crazy to accomplish it. When you get the win, you can feel good about turning your attention away from business.
Anxiety is something that we all experience from time-to-time. There’s a difference between what would be considered a disorder (where you need treatment with a licensed specialist), vs. common anxiousness that gets in our way.
When we think about the uncertainty of the future and fear that something harmful is going to happen, that phenomenon is anxiety. We tend to focus our energy there in a mental attempt to control that situation. When that happens, we’re not in the present moment.
Get rid of the anxiety in one of two ways: 1) Thinking about a positive outcome instead of a negative one; 2) Being okay regardless of the outcome.
The only thing certain about the future is the uncertainty of it. Anxiety will drive us to put a negative thought over the uncertain outcome, which we’re making up. We can just as easily dream up a positive outcome. Ask yourself: “what would it look like if this worked out for the best?”
Being good regardless of the outcome is a great mindset. We can accomplish this by detaching from the outcome. Simple question: “what if everything will always work out for my benefit?” Doesn’t mean we always get what we want; just means that it will benefit us. Anxiety can’t hang around if everything will be a feather in our cap.
Make an Intention
Intentions are huge for me. If I don’t make intentions prior to doing something, I can easily fall into default.
The best way to create inventions is around how you want to show up. Not necessary, what you want to have happen, the intention for what you want to do.
Before you go about your day or the event in which you want to be present, create the intention for how you want to be present. What does it look like for you to be present? Is it engaging in conversation? Is it asking more questions than talking? Is it putting away all tech so that you can be mentally available?
Whatever you want to be, make that intuition and you’ll be much more likely to actually do it.
Use Mental Imagery
Imagery and visualizations can be a huge help in all of these. What does it look like for you to be present in the moment? Create a fully immersive picture in your mind for how you know you’re present. See in your mind’s eye what that looks like, notice what you’ll hear and also what you’ll feel.
This immersion will trigger the same brain signals as the actual event and train it to look for the same thing in real life.
Imagery can also create confidence in your avidity to deal with adversity. Imagine how you would handle an adverse situation well. Again, training your brain for how you want to respond – in this case – when something might pull you away from your presence. If you have a couple common presence-stealing culprits, this is a great mental exercise for you to choose how you react.
Clear Your Mind
Mindfulness practices remove the clutter from your mind. The whole goal of mindfulness – especially Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – is to get you in the present moment without judgment so that you can effectively be your best Self right now.
You can practice this through mindful meditations. Find those through your favorite meditation app. I recommend Insight Timer. Research shows that meditations as little as 15 minutes can be effective for rewiring your mind.
The really cool outcome through repeated practice is that your mind becomes trained to leave the mind-wander and come back to the present moment. In the present, by default, our mind is clear of the clutter of the past and the future.
These 5 simple strategies are easy ways to show up as the presume that you want to be this holiday season. It sets you up to end the year on a strong note in business with momentum for the next year AND keeps you grounded and present when it’s time to be with family & friends.
Happy holiday season!