Signs You Aren’t Present in Your Daily Life - Alvinology

Signs You Aren’t Present in Your Daily Life

Being present and mindful in your everyday life is increasingly challenging. It can be tough when you’re facing stress from work, family, and home life, and now we’re also months into the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which can cause even more worry.

There are negative effects that can come with not being mindful, however. Not being mindful and present can put your safety at risk and the safety of others as well. It can also make you more likely to deal with physical and mental health effects that can come with not handling stress in healthy ways.

The Risks of Not Being Present and Mindful

One example is the risk of being behind the wheel if you’re distracted, and your mind is wandering.

If you weren’t present because you were thinking about something else, going a little heavy on the gas pedal accidentally could lead to a serious accident.

In fact, driving while you’re distracted or drowsy can be as driving under the influence.

Distracted driving led to the deaths of 2,841 people in just 2018 alone, showing that sometimes being spaced out or not present can have severe consequences.

Aside from perhaps finding yourself driving recklessly or without paying attention, other signs you aren’t being fully present in your life include:

  • It may be difficult for you to fall asleep at night if you’re someone who isn’t present and mindful. Your thoughts are likely distracting you, just as they do during the day. You’re not thinking about the physical sensations you’re experiencing as you try to fall asleep, and you’re instead only thinking about your racing thoughts. Not getting enough sleep can put you more at risk for being in a car accident and can raise your chances of developing chronic diseases, as well as eroding your quality of life.
  • You might be avoiding potentially positive things in your life if you’re stuck in your own head. For example, maybe you’re preventing yourself from getting a raise because you aren’t present and mindful and are only thinking about things that could go wrong.
  • Do you forget the food you eat? Having food is an experience that’s about all of your senses including smells, flavors, and textures. Do you ever find that you forgot the last thing you ate? If so, it could be a sign that you’re not being mindful.
  • Are you at a point where you’re not finding a lot of joy in your life? You may feel bored because you aren’t present. Therefore you aren’t taking in new information.
  • People who struggle with being present and mindfulness often think of things that are going on only as a stepping stone to something else in the future, and then there’s no enjoyment in the moment.
  • This is a seemingly simple sign, but if you’re bad with names there’s a chance you’re struggling with mindfulness. When you meet new people, you’re not in the moment, and then even a few seconds later you may not be able to remember the name of the person you met.
  • Are you a phone addict? We often use our devices as a form of escape but eventually, that can become an addictive cycle. We’re distracting ourselves from our thoughts and the world around us.
  • Having a hard time connecting with other people is often a symptom of not being present. When you’re present, you inherently feel connected to the people around you. Sometimes you might be surrounded by people but still very alone if you’re not present or you’re perpetually distracted.

The Impact of a Wandering Mind

Along with the risk of things like being in a car accident, there are a host of other negative effects that come with a wandering mind, including:

  • Misunderstandings and breakdowns in relationships and communication
  • Problems prioritizing
  • Burnout or overall fatigue
  • You may feel depressed or unhappy
  • Diminished productivity

Studies show that when you deal with stressful or difficult situations if you have more of a sense of present-moment awareness, you’re likely to respond to those situations with improved well-being and health.

How Can You Be More Present?

There are some simple things you can do right now to help you be more present, and then you can work on building your mindfulness over time because it is a skill to be in the moment fully.

The following are ways to be more present throughout your day.

  • Focus when you’re behind the wheel. When you’re driving on your work commute or to run errands, make a conscious effort to look at what’s going on around you, including signs and other cars. This isn’t just good for practicing mindfulness, but it can also lower your risk of being in an accident.
  • Use the time you do chores to practice mindfulness, rather than dreading these activities. Let yourself work on meditating while you cook or clean.
  • Slow down when you eat. Take a few moments with each bite to think about how it tastes, how it smells, and the experience you’re having as you’re eating.
  • Set aside time each day to do nothing, which for many of us is much harder than it seems. We often fill our time with too many tasks and that leaves us not really focusing on any of them. Even if you only carve out five minutes a day to do nothing, that can be valuable to help you be more mindful.
  • Try to integrate short bursts of mindfulness into your day. You don’t have to meditate for an hour at a time to see benefits. Our brains seem like to shorter bits of mindfulness, so bring yourself into the present just for a few minutes and see how it goes.
  • Let yourself wait without looking at your phone. We live in a fast-paced world, and waiting is something none of us like. However, instead of instantly taking out your phone when you’re waiting in traffic or in a line, take that as a moment to pause and be mindful.

Finally, give yourself a prompt that lets you know it’s time to be mindful. As an example, every time you see a certain thing in your home or office, that can be when you switch your brain to the present.

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