Excessive worry seems to continue to be on the rise, even impacting teens more than ever, and can have devastating consequences. Worry and stress can contribute to sleep problems, which can have serious ramifications, physical problems, and of course mental health issues, including full-blown anxiety disorders.
Let’s focus on a key mind hack that will help you to keep your worrying in check and reduce stress.
The Importance of Staying Present in the Moment
One key mind hack to keep your worry at bay is a simple concept in theory but can be more difficult to put into practice when your worry gremlins start to rear their ugly heads.
The mind hack is this: staying present in each moment’s experience.
It is hard to worry when you are focused only on the present moment. Worry is typically always about the future, and occasionally about the past. It is nearly impossible to be anxious or worried when your mind is in the here and now.
The Role of Mindfulness
Staying present is easier said than done. There are many distractions in your life and things to keep your mind focused on anything but the present moment. In reality, worry is actually protective in some ways to help us anticipate dangerous situations. This is one reason why it can be so hard to shut worry off.
One of the best tools to practice staying present is mindfulness. Mindfulness is essentially an accepting, open, non-judgmental and curious focus on one’s emotional, cognitive and sensory experience in the present moment. Simply put, mindfulness is present moment self-awareness. You can practice mindful awareness of the present moment at any time, or cultivate a mindfulness meditation practice in which a specific time of your day is devoted toward practicing mindfulness meditation.
Practical Tips for Being More Mindful
Finding twenty minutes a day or more to sit down and meditate may seem close to impossible. The good news is that you do not have to cultivate an ongoing meditative practice in order to reap the rewards of being more mindful in your daily life.
The same mobile device that can rapidly take you out of the present moment can also serve as a reminder for you to return to the present moment. You can make your mobile phone your mindfulness machine by using it to set reminders that go off through the day that encourages you to stay in the moment.
When your reminder goes off, just stop whatever you are doing for thirty seconds or so and focus your awareness on the present moment. Check in with yourself and ask yourself about how you are feeling emotionally and physically, and what you are thinking about. Mindfulness is all about being accepting, non-critical and open, so be kind to yourself and curious about your experience.
You may notice during these times that your head is all wrapped up and worrying about the future. Use these moments as an opportunity to return to the present moment. Remind yourself that regardless of what happens in the future, you will be able to handle it. After all, you always have been able to handle whatever life has thrown at you. Just practicing this a few times a day should cause you to be more present overall, and you will likely notice a decrease in any chronic worrying.
While there are numerous ways to slow down and be more present, the key to cutting down the worry is remembering the importance of doing so.