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8 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Present

women sitting cross legged in a birch grove while looking up


When we are in a hurry, we are usually thinking about the future. Maybe the very near future like in the next few minutes or maybe we are thinking much further ahead like into the next year. We need to do this, we need to do that, we worry about this, we worry about that. We are in a hurry to get to the next thing.


When we have a goal we sometimes feel impatient or in a hurry to get there. We sometimes think it will be better when we get there and we are impatient to arrive. When we are focused on the future we are not focused on the present moment and that means we are trading right now for later, which doesn’t even exist yet. What a waste.


Of course it’s a good idea to plan for our future, to set goals, and to dream, but we want to be careful not to spend our lives chasing a carrot either. We want to be present in our lives right now. Life is never better later or when we finally arrive somewhere. The best moment is always the one you’re in.


Here are eight ways to slow down and enjoy the present.


1. Do Not Multi-Task


When we are juggling five things at once we pretty much do all those things half-assed. We feel harried, busy, and overwhelmed. Choose one thing at a time.


If you are having dinner, just have dinner. Focus your attention on the meal; how does it taste? What is the texture on your tongue? How does it smell? Focus on the company, how full, or satisfied you are.


Put down your phone, tablet, and turn off the tv. Simply dine.


2. Create a Mindfulness Practice


You can practice mindfulness during everyday tasks like washing the dishes, cooking, eating, even folding laundry.


Everything you do, you can do mindfully. The key is to be present in the moment and focussed on the thing that you are doing. Use all your senses to be in the moment, present with the act of doing. Try to bring your attention to it, don’t let your mind wander to other things and worries.


If you are folding laundry feel the fabric between your fingers, carefully folding each piece neatly and lovingly. Notice the fresh washed scent and the textures and the colors.


Do a good job, there is no hurry.


3. Take a Break from Social Media and Television


Social media is super fun and awesome but it is also a sensory overload. Bright images and video, music, and light, it is fast moving and we speed from one thing to the next. Our minds absorb it all with no time to consider or rest. We’re training ourselves to go-go-go, we want more, faster.


Our attention spans are actually shrinking. We all could use a bit of a rest from social media. Read a book…gasp! Or simply sit and enjoy the view.


4. Go for a Hike in the Woods & Notice Your Surroundings


I’m a hiker so of course this is one of my favorite ideas. But even if you are not a hiker, do get outside into the woods if you can.


Humans are animals and we’re meant to live on the earth within mother nature. We are so far removed from the natural world I’m convinced that’s why we are feeling so anxious, depressed, and frankly a little crazy as a species. We are not meant to stare at four walls all day every day.


Get outside to a park if you can’t get to the woods.


Get outside and look at trees, walk in the grass, get some healthy air. Pay attention to the scenery, listen to the wind blow through the leaves, and the birdsong.


5. Meditation


Meditation is a daunting task for many. It seems very mystical-woo whoo to some and just impossible to perform to others.


Meditation can be a very simple five minute-a-day practice where you set a timer and breathe while training yourself not to attach to the thoughts floating in your mind.


You will of course catch your mind wandering away from you many times over and simply come back to the present moment. You will come back to your body to the room or surroundings you are sitting in, breathe and continue watching from within.


Train yourself to be still in mind and body.


6. Yoga or other Exercise


When we do a physical activity and truly focus on each movement we perform we are basically meditating or practicing mindfulness.


Generally when we exercise it is a good idea to really focus on the muscle were working, our posture, form, or the movement in order to get the most from our work-outs and to avoid injury.


It’s a great way to clear your mind, not multi-task, and ironically, to slow down.


7. Get Creative


Doing something creative can help you get into what is known as the “flow”. When you are totally absorbed with what you are doing, time ceases to exist for you. Flow is another way to say mindfulness.


It’s fun to be creative and when you are doing it for love and enjoyment it’s a great way to slow down and enjoy the present moment.


8. Practice Presence


All we truly have is this very moment. Stop and simply accept that we are physically where we are right now, in the present moment.


This is where we live and all our memories and futures are created right here. Longing for the future is simply giving up today. Mourning the past is simply giving up today.


Look around, use your senses, just be.


Today is all we have.

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