Energy Management: Living in the Now

October 18, 2010

By Dr. Carolyn Anderson

The N in the ENERGY acronym represents NOW for living in the moment and enjoying the journey.

Multitasking

People are often proud of their ability to multi task and women like to point out that there is evidence from brain research that women are better at multitasking then men. We are so proud of the fact that we can do eight loads of laundry and talk on the phone while making a gourmet dinner all at the same time.

The Downsides of Multitasking

The problem is that we don’t do any of them exceptionally well and we certainly don’t enjoy them. The lack of focus really leads to lack of productivity and we travel through our lives checking off our “to do” lists but never really living. A recent study for Hewlett Packard revealed that the average IQ drops by 10 points while multi-tasking which is equivalent to missing one night of sleep and with a one year old I know what that is all about.

Multitasking also increases your stress. Many studies have found that multitasking boosts the levels of stress related hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. This wears down your system and leads to premature aging. It is also known that increased cortisol has been linked to belly fat. So we could all be a little thinner and less wrinkled if we stop multi-tasking.

How to Live in The Moment

How do we stop doing too many things at once and feeling stressed when it seems there is so much to do all the time?

Try doing just one thing at a time. Really be in that moment, immerse yourself in it and see if it is more enjoyable. Live your life. Really love your life, one moment at a time. Don’t waste your energy trying to do everything at once.

I struggle with this constantly. But I do find if we are conscious of living for the now we are more likely to do it. I am trying to make efforts in little ways to achieve this. For instance, when one of the members of my team comes into my office to ask me something, I put down what I am doing, or stop typing on the computer and physically turn my chair towards the person addressing me.

By giving people your full attention in the moment they feel more valued, you actually hear what they are saying and the issue or question can be addressed more appropriately. Try the next time one of your co-workers, your spouse, your child or your friend addresses you to really be in the moment and give them your full attention. If there are times in your day when you just cannot be disturbed except for an emergency then let others know and have a sign on the door or a specific time frame when you should not be disturbed.

Another simple way to live in the now is to spend a little time outdoors each day in gratitude for your life and all that is in it. Try to find time to walk outdoors or at the very least appreciate the view of the mountains or trees as you drive home after a long day. Just connecting with nature even for a short moment will help to ground you and bring you back to what really matters.

In Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, he emphasizes this concept. Now is all we really have and stress that we feel is usually related to worrying about the past or anticipating yet something else that has to get done. Our ability to handle many different things in a day gives us our strength and adaptability. This is great and not something we should change. Just make sure you are handling each task one by one and enjoying each moment one by one to make up that day of multiple tasks. It’s the power of focus. Really be where you are. Life goes by so fast and is made up of the special, small yet meaningful moments that touch us each day. Don’t let them pass you by without noticing, living and enjoying them.

Action Steps for Living in the Moment

1)      The Mindful Shower – I read about this in some teachings by Thich Nhat Hanh and also in an excellent book I read recently by a local doctor, Dr. Susan Biali.

Tomorrow morning when you take a shower enjoy the warm water, really feel the water on your neck and running down your back. Enjoy the relaxation of the moment. Take time to relax and be in the moment while you are in the shower. Think of it as a mini break from the general chaos of life.

Sometimes I don’t even know if I have washed my hair or shaved my legs because I am so distracted when I am in the shower. I am thinking about the appointments I have that day, the people I have to call back, the emails I need to send and I never enjoy and appreciate the moment. Try a shower where you don’t go through the days to-do list at the same time.

2)      The deep breathing square. Try this as a break throughout the day if you are feeling stressed. It combines deep breathing with visualization and is extremely effective.

Picture a square in front of you. Starting in the lower left hand corner of the square breathe in for 4 seconds and in your minds eye to travel up the length of the square. Then hold for 4 seconds in the corner. Then exhale and travel along the top portion of the square. Hold your breath again for 4 seconds. Then inhale and travel down the side of the square. Hold again for 4 seconds at the corner. And then exhale and travel along the bottom of the square to the corner that you started in. The entire exercise takes 28 seconds and will revitalize you.

Being aware of living in the moment and enjoying the journey will help us all to be more mindful of the precious moments of our life as they unfold. The first step to making a change and starting to live in the now is to be conscious of it.

About the Author: Dr. Carolyn Anderson is the founder of Impowerage. Her mission in life is to empower older adults with the information they need to continue living healthy active lifestyles.

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