Stay present to calm down

“How can I deal with my stress?”, “How can I stay relaxed?”, “What’s the secret to inner peace?”.

I get a lot of questions around this topic.

These are good questions, but they are hard to answer. Actually, every person needs to answer these questions for themselves and find their own solutions. At least, that’s what I believe.

I can only tell you what I learned through my own experiments and what worked for me. Maybe it might work for you too.

First of all, today it’s sadly completely normal to feel overwhelmed. Our world moves at a ridiculous pace, faster than ever before. We’re constantly bombarded with tons of information, whether it’s advertisements or information.

If you’re interested in exact stats, you can find them here, but for me personally it doesn’t matter if there are 1 million blog posts written today or ten million. I won’t be able to read them. Neither will you.

It’s not only blogposts but basically everything digital. Don’t get me wrong, I think the internet and (almost) everything that came with it, is a great thing, but we still need to learn how to handle it.

Recently I read “Reclaim your Brain”, written by Joseph A. Annibali, M.D., which is basically about this topic. It’s about how this 24/7 culture and the constant digital availability lead to “busy brains”. Brains that are always on fire and can’t relax.

I guess you know that feeling. The feeling that you need to do just one more thing.

Read just one more blogpost.

Listen to just one more podcast.

Check Facebook or Instagram just one more time.

Needless to say, we weren’t built to be “always on”, as Annibali calls it, or at least we haven’t adapted to it yet. Maybe we will, but in my opinion, that might take a while.

In the meantime, we need to learn how to deal with all of this. We need to learn how we can slow down again. How we can live our lives in the present and not constantly think about the past or the future with all the things we still need to do.

For some people that will be easier, but for most people it won’t, because society already accepted the constant availability and expects everybody to follow this trend. It’s not only being available all the time but also to update all the time.

I know several people who check the news on several sites multiple times a day. Why? I don’t know. I don’t watch any news. Shocking, right, but let me tell you, I’m much more positive and calmer since I stopped. Again, that’s just what’s working for me. I won’t tell you to stop watching the news, but maybe you want to experiment with it.

Go on a news-diet for a week or two and see how you feel. Some people always tell me: “You’re wrong. Do you know what will happen when everybody stops watching the news?”

No, I don’t. But it won’t happen, at least not right now. That’s the same thing as if I would say: “Do you know what will happen when everybody stops eating processed sugar?”. Yeah, Coca-Cola will probably be out of business, but again, it won’t happen.

You see, right there, we’re talking about the future again. What I actually want to talk about is the present and how to stay there.

I’ve been practicing this actively for a couple of months maybe even a few years now, but I’m still not able to do it all the time. Life happens.

You actually don’t need anything besides yourself to be present.

You don’t need to start meditation or visualisations to become present, but they are great tools that could help you. You simply can choose something you already do.

I use cooking. I love it, which helps. When I’m cooking, I’m focused on the present moment. Preparing the ingredients, cutting, seasoning. Throwing them in the pan or pot, taking in the sounds and smells around me.

I usually don’t think about what I need to do afterwards. I usually don’t do anything besides that. I try to focus on the moment.

Cooking relaxes me. It takes everything else out of my head and I am at peace with myself. Most often I’m able to transfer the feeling to eating as well. Only focusing on the food, taking in the different flavours and tastes.

Today this is called “Mindful eating”.

It doesn’t matter how stressful my day is, and I always try to make it as relaxed as possible, but cooking always takes all that stress out.

That’s what works for me. Maybe cooking can work for your as well. Maybe you hate cooking, that’s fine too. Just find the activity you can use as an anchor to stay present.

It helps if it’s something “positive”. Like exercise, journaling, meditation. or talking to friends. The only limit is your own imagination. I don’t recommend using things like watching TV, as you are getting new information and staying connected.

What also helps me is to not have any electronics around me. Whenever I’m cooking, I leave my smartphone, my tablet, and my PC in another room or shut them off. It’s just too tempting to quickly check for new messages.

As always, start small. You only need one thing that lets you stay in the present. Find that one thing today.

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