Do you find yourself running through your life with barely time to think, feeling overwhelmed, stressed and tired?
Lululemon Guildford asked me to give a workshop for their community on how to be more present, and we partnered with Kiki.K and Turnfit Studio to make it really awesome! Read on to find out my top 6 ways to slow down, to feel more calm, to bring more presence into your life.
Do you want to live your best life? Yes? Excellent! Then read on, this blog is for your :)
My name is Adelaide and I draw inspiration from sports psychology, to coach entrepreneurs, executives, and athletes to overcome adversity, become adventurous and live their best life.
I came to be a coach by learning to overcome adversity myself… Imagine someone ripping out the batteries in your body and not being able to replace them. That’s what it was like for me several years ago. For 4 years I suffered with M.E. or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and this meant I spent much of my time sleeping in bed, in a darkened room, in silence.
My life fell apart around me. I was told by doctors that I would never recover. But I wanted to live my best life. I wanted to go on adventures. These deep desires drove me to find the thing that would enable me to fully recover.
And I did. In 3 days. By learning how to re-wire my mind to live a life I love. I haven’t looked back since, I’m now an adventurer, high performance coach and last year I went from coach to Ironman athlete - unfortunately for my bank account, I’m now hooked on long distance triathlon and endurance challenges!
[In 2016 I achieved my dream of adventuring in the Arctic, listen to my journey of cross-country skiing across Svalbard for 9 days here.]
I’ve learnt that one of the key ways to living your best life is by living in the moment, by being present.
But what do you think it means to be present?
Being Present is an experience when you feel at peace with who you are, your desires and how you can achieve them - no matter what the situation is or what other people think.
Being Present Matters, because it allows you to show up in the best way possible.
3 mins minutes without air
3 days without water 3 weeks without food
3 months without company
3 seconds without thinking
95% of thought processes happen beneath the surface, to protect us from the bombardment of stimuli. We need to be present, we need to notice our surroundings, to listen to our conscious and unconscious, so we can not just survive, but make the best decisions and live our best life.
When you feel nervous, how well do you perform?
When you feel irritated, how compassionate are you?
When you feel stressed, how creative and positive are you?
These negative feelings are caused by our thoughts about the past or the future such as what might happen, how we might screw something up, what someone did to you.
Being present is challenging, because we must learn to influence what we can actually influence - our thoughts, feelings, plans and behaviours.A skill that’s crucial in survival situations as well as enabling us to thrive in our daily life.
For example, it’s not being cut up in traffic by that white van driver that makes us irritated and angry, we are doing these feelings in response to his actions.
We do not have influence over the white van driver and it’s not fair that we should be at whim to these negative and unhelpful feelings, we need to learn how to influence our emotions, our feelings. To feel the things we want to feel and act how we want to act. To be present in the moment.
The serenity prayer says it best:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference
But how do you actually slow your mind down enough to be present? To utilise the power of now? To zone back in again?
1. Gratitude Practice
Do any of you stop to think about how grateful you are for a specific moment or for your life?
A daily gratitude practice is so important to our wellbeing, as it really helps us to re-wire our mind for happiness and positivity.
By spending time to be present and focus on the things we’re grateful for, we’re wiring our mind to look out for the positive moments that happen in our life and to stay with them for a longer period of time.
We are wiring our minds for positivity and shots circuiting the negative thought loops - the stuff that takes our attention away from the present.
In the morning, write down 3 things that you’re grateful for
This establishes a positive pattern of thinking and acting when it really matters, setting you up for the day, to focus your attention on the positive.
In the evening, write down3 amazing things that happened that day.
Use the time before bed to invest in yourself, to reflect on your day, to be present and focus on the positive.
You can’t use the same thing everyday, so think of it as a game!
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2. Check in with yourself
Do any of you ever feel tired or overwhelmed during your day? The solution is easy. Hit the pause button.
Throughout your day check in with yourself and take in the moment.
Look around you, assess your current state and ask yourself some of these questions:
What can I see around me?
What can I hear?
What can I smell?
What can I feel, what textures are there?
What kind of colours are there?
What am I grateful for?
Do you workout?
Give using this technique a go just before your next workout… A few minutes before you being, pause, with no music in your ear and tune into your body and your breathe. Really zone in.
Stay there for several seconds or a couple of minutes, close your eyes to really focus and think about what you want to get out of your workout. If it’s to be more present, turn off strava or your tracker, or perhaps run without music.
By practising this technique, you’ll start to get so much more out of your workout, are you’ll start to feel more present to your body, mind experience and surroundings.
3. Really listen
When you’re talking to someone, how often do you worry about what you’re going to say next?
Are you thinking about…What cool story can you tell them? What can you say that will make you sound smart? Or perhaps you’re thinking about what you need to buy for dinner tonight?
This results in us half listening to either our friend, family, colleague or person in passing. We’re often constantly thinking about something other than what they’re saying.
Instead, I challenge you to be present in your conversation. Simply listen to the person with curiosity and compassion. Don’t worry about what you can add to the conversation or what you’re going to say next.
If you’ve truly listened to what they’ve been saying, your unconscious mind will know exactly what to say next - and it will probably be better than what you would say!
It’s challenging and can be scary not to listen with anticipation, I know, I’ve been there.
When creating my podcast The Wild Show I was suddenly interviewing all of these amazing people and while they were talking I would be constantly worrying about what I should say next? What question should I ask them afterwards? How should I link what they’re saying now to the next thing I wanted to talk about?
The result? A good conversation, but not a truly great one.
I wanted to have the really great conversations. It’s taken practice, courage and confidence, but I now I don’t even go in with prepared questions! I have a couple of bullet points of themes to cover, otherwise I just let the conversation flow by really listening to what they’re saying and diving off their story or advice.
It’s been great seeing how this technique has produced conversations I couldn’t otherwise have imagined and my listeners love it!
This has helped me in my personal and professional life too, as I’m able to be much more present in these conversations too.
4. Be Ok with not being in control of the future
Do you worry about the future not panning out how you planned?
Are you often caught up in worrying about the future? From what that person will think of you and if you’ll get that promotion to not being able to handle a certain situation.
By getting caught up in worry, we also allow our insecurities to creep in, we start to experience self-doubt and self-criticism.
I’m currently coaching adaptive climbers who are going to the world championships this year.
One of the main things we are working on is being present in their climbing. They’re worried about the event and how how they’re going to do. I’m helping them change this. Together we’re bringing their focus to the top things that they need to focus on in order to perform at their very best, consistently.
So instead of thinking about how they’ll fall or that the grade will be too high for them. I’m helping them to think about the things that they can influence, the things that will help them perform at their very best on the day, from diet and training, to how they can influence their mind, their feelings and their emotions when it’s competition time.
Worrying about something that may or may not happen is a waste of our energy and really not very helpful to us living our best life. We need to be ok with not being able to control the outcome. But we can influence it by focusing on the right things at the right time.
Have you ever tried to hold on to water? The harder and harder we try, the more it slips through our fingers. However, if we relax, go with the flow and cup our hands, we can hold more water and our life will become fuller.
5. Reduce Your Distractions
Do you find that when you sit down to work something is often distracting you away from your task at hand?
It’s challenging to be present in our society that now drains us of all of our focus and attention with the bombardment of information and instant messaging and notifications.
We’re available 24/7.
But our mind can only really focus on 1-2 things at a time.
Did you ever play the old Victorian parlour game when you were younger? On the tray you’d lay out 15-20 small objects from small marbles and coins to scissors and jewellery. You’d then cover it all up with a tea towel and when you uncovered it, you had 30 seconds to memorise as many objects as you could. Most people would remember 5-7 things.
This is because our mind can only focus on a few things at a time. When we try to multi-task we really half-ass it. But when we focus on one thing and be present to it, we whole ass it.
So how you can minimise your distractions?
A brand called Folk Rebellion are encouraging us to unplug from our tech and plug into the real world, whether it’s going back to vinyl records, setting yourself tech boundaries like banning phones from the bedroom, or banning TV when you’re getting the good stuff, only looking at your email at certain times during the day or turning your phone off for the weekend, to name a few.
What could you do?
Do you ever feel stressed, low or frustrated?
Focus on the breathe.
I LOVE meditation and it’s one of the most powerful ways we can change our mindset and re-wire our brain.
Instead of overanalysing situations, our feelings and thoughts, worrying about the future or stewing in what just happened…Take a moment out of your day, whether it’s the morning or evening or at another time and sit or lie down somewhere, quietly, close your eyes and breathe those slow, deep, belly breathes.
Count your breathe to really feel the calmness wash over you.
I teach my clients to create a place in their mind where they can go to relax. A serenity palace if you like.
Go back to a time when you felt really really calm and relaxed and notice everything around you; sounds, the ground, the colours, the temperature, how it feels… And really be in that place, embodying those feelings of calm and relaxation.
If thoughts come in, just observe them. Don’t judge or evaluate them or try to change them.
See them come and watch them float away, as if you were cloud spotting or star gazing when you were younger.
By being present to your breathe, you are able to re-wire your mind for calmness and relaxation and really strengthen these neuropathways, so instead of feeling stresses most of the time, you’ll start to feel calm and relaxed and therefore more present to your life.