If you want to experience less stress, try focusing on the present moment.

Written by Alicia Cassels, MA, MFLN Military Caregiving Team Member

Research has shown that we spend much of our waking existence thinking, not about what we are experiencing in the present moment, but instead focused on the past or anticipating what will happen in the future. When we focus on the past or future rather than what we are doing in the present moment, we experience less joy, essentially wasting our limited, precious time.  For more on this, check out Matt Killingsworth’s TED Talk.

Despite what you might think, this mental multi-tasking is not the result of modern-era technology or pressures. Our propensity for wasting time while preoccupied with the past or anticipating the future has been documented for thousands of years. Born in 4 BC, Seneca wrote,

“They lose the day in expectation of the night, and the night in fear of the dawn.” 

 

Given significant family needs and the immensity of demands on caregiver time, it is easy for this cycle of anticipation, planning and stress about the past or future to dominate each waking moment of a caregiver’s day.

The beginning of a new year offers a great time to incorporate strategies to reduce this mental multi-tasking and increase focus and enjoyment in the present moment. Mindful Magazine has referred to this as the ART of Being Present, and offers easy tips to bring mindfulness into our daily routines.

Activities. Bring mindfulness into the activities you do and love, like gardening, running, biking, swimming…

Routines. Choose one of your daily routines and bring mindfulness to it: folding clothes, washing dishes, vacuuming, walking to work, eating lunch.

Triggers. We all have things that set us off: snarky emails, annoying colleagues, mindless drivers. Choose one and decide to replace your angry reaction with the flash of being present.


 This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on January 19, 2018.

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