My Best Tip To Master Being Present

StopIf you’ve read my toe story, you know that my brain can go off on a tangent of worry and anxiety.  And based on the responses I got – so can yours.  But how do you turn off the crazy brain?  Anyone that has ever had a kid, pet or younger sibling can tell you that just yelling, “stop that!” isn’t very effective.  I can tell myself over and over again to stop obsessing over my bank account balance or keep my hands away from the chips and salsa – but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work.  All it does is remind me what crap willpower I have.   Adding guilt to anxiety is an ugly combo that is likely only going to lead to a second margarita.  Lucky for you, I learned this one masterful trick that snaps me out of anxiety and back to the present – and it’s free, easy and you can do it anywhere, which is more than I can say for drinking margaritas (the lack of alcohol sales at school open houses is really short-sighted, but we have to choose our battles, I suppose).

The most frequent place that my crazy brain starts spinning is going to and from work or taking kids to school.  My mind starts to wander over the trifecta of “f” worries: my fat, my family and my funds.  So, I give myself a little homework assignment – notice the beauty around you instead of the mess inside your head.  Ninety percent of the time, what your anxious about probably isn’t actually happening right now in this moment, it’s what might happen later, right?  Except for my muffin top, that is actually happening right now, but I can’t fix it right now, so let’s agree not to look down, okay?  From my Superhero photo class with Andrea Scher I learned a bunch of great photo prompts (e.g. find lemons against a blue sky, peeling paint or an unexpected heart in your path) but I don’t bother so much with actually taking the photographs because, you know, I have places to be.  I do take notice, though, and that takes me out of crazy brain and into THIS moment.  Being the simple/forgetful person that I am, I usually boil my imaginary photo prompts down to a color – notice yellow, notice orange, notice aqua. It’s like a little game I play to stay out of my anxiety and into the moment.  You can do this in your car, on the subway or just walking around your neighborhood.

I know this can seem silly and overly simplistic but, for me, the silly and simplistic is the most effective.  It balances the serious and complex problems that are spinning through my mind, pushing down on the opposite side of the see saw for a few moments.  I hope you will try this trick and share in the comments how you bring yourself out of crazy brain – be specific and detailed because I’m going to try all of your suggestions (unless they require me to be naked in public or to eat something gross, I have my limits).

Please share your thoughts.