Welcome to the latest in our new series of bitesize blogs containing quick tips and ideas to help you build resilience and boost wellbeing. In this one, we look at the importance of connecting with now and living in the moment.

With so much to focus on as we try to adjust to the new normal, it can be easy to get hooked into difficult thoughts and feelings.

When we do this, we can find ourselves over-focusing on the negative, asking ourselves ‘why’ questions, to which there are no answers or solutions. We might engage in rumination, going over and over past events, or worry about the future. Quickly we can find ourselves sinking deeper into low mood or anxiety.

Connecting with the present moment and keeping a focus on our experience in the here and now can help to shift us out of these patterns.

Mindfulness is one way of doing this. We’ve explored the benefits of both mindfulness meditation and active mindfulness in a previous blog. But it’s important to remember that even just switching our attention to what is happening right here, right now can help us to step back from the negative thoughts and difficult emotions that can easily overwhelm us.

Let’s have a go now:

  • If you are sitting, take a moment to stand up and stretch.
  • Try reaching your arms up as high as they will go.
  • Notice yourself stretching, the muscles lengthening and warming as you hold the stretch.
  • Straighten your back and push your feet into the floor
  • Now relax your arms and take a look around, noticing 5 things that you can see. You don’t need to name them just notice them.
  • And notice 3 things that you can hear. Again, just notice them as sound waves hitting your ears, no need to name them or think about them. Just notice.
  • As you do this, take a few moments to focus on your breath: the gentle rise and fall of your chest, the sensation of the air flowing in and out of your nose or mouth.
  • Finally, have one last stretch. Reach up tall and then allow your arms to gently flop back down.

You are now in the present moment and you have a choice. You can either return to what you were doing before or do something else.

The thoughts that hooked you have drifted past and there have been no harmful consequences of disengaging from them. They were just thoughts after all.

Practicing mindfulness, and being in the present moment teaches us that thoughts are just thoughts and we can choose whether we want to engage with them or just allow them to pass by.

If you found this helpful and would like to read more bitesize tips, check out some of the other blogs in this series. You might also like to join our Facebook group UR Resilient, where members are busy sharing creative and inspiring ideas for staying positive during this challenging time.