8 Simple Ways To Stay In The Moment
Our brain is powerful and interesting. But, it has one primary job though and that is to keep us safe!
It’s why the very first thought I have in the morning isn’t to go run, or train, my very first thought is actually negative. As Sport Psychologist, Dr. Eddie O’Connor, points out, our brain isn’t really interested in getting better at that moment, it is more interested in staying cozy and warm. SAFE!
So, our brain doesn’t provide us with simple ways to stay in the moment. It often works against us and we need to train our brain and develop habits and routines to keep us focused on the moment.
I can honestly say I’m truly in the moment only during moments of pain and exercise, and when writing. That’s almost it. But, I’m trying to get better at it while driving.
politely ask BEG us to stay in the moment.
It begs because there are so many factors that try and drag our attention away and our brain simply allows it to happen, like an old lap dog.
First, both our skill level and the challenge have to match up.
When these match up, we can become engrossed in a flow state and that’s when we perform our best and it is most enjoyable. However, If the challenge isn’t high enough, we become bored. Or if our skill level or trust in our ability is lacking, then we become anxious. Then there are the outside influences, expectations, people, results, and distractions that also want to take us away from this moment.
Great performers focus on the moment, not the context.
1. Take One Deep Breath-
I doubt you’ll read much about simple ways to stay in the moment if it doesn’t tout the power of breathing.
It’s simple and we already do it, but we also take it for granted and don’t pay attention to it. What we want to do with ease, we must first due with due diligence. Setting aside time to do some focused breathing or meditation, will train our brain to be able to take that one deep breath on cue.
2. Close Your Eyes-
Before Collin Altamarino became the first unseeded player to win the USTA national championship, we worked on getting centered and ready for every point. One key that he came up with was a technique before he served. He called it a long blink. He would purposefully close his eyes for a long second before he began his service motion.
Jason Day’s pre-shot routine consists of deliberately closing his eyes and visualizing the golf shot. Research has shown that as we close our eyes, the parts of our brain that get activated is our imagination and multi-sensory activity.
It helps us focus. It’s why we close our eyes when trying to remember an important name or detail.
3. Focus on one short term goal-
A focus on winning doesn’t lead to winning, a focus on the process does.
Results, statistics, winning or losing, rankings, are all outcome based focus. There is a lot of fear and unknown in the outcome, because we have no control over it, only influence. If there’s a type of focus that causes angst or doubt or tightness, then it’s looking at the outcome. The way to get back to the moment is to focus on one short-term immediate goal. Make an adjustment and make a play!
4. Find enjoyment in your environment-
Kara Goucher said, “The idea is to beat the distance, not the person next to you.”
One thing that I’ve noticed during my ironman and ultra-distance races is that it is so easy to love on one other and cheer each other on!
Yes, I compete and strive and do my best, but everyone’s goals are similar. And when we are all suffering in those moments, we actually root for each other! When we can take a moment and really enjoy our surroundings and our environment, it’s one of the simple ways to stay in the moment. It becomes an action of gratitude.
“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
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If we don’t practice the skill of competing, then when we really need to be in the moment, that focus won’t be there. Listening to music while running, or giving up when we are tired, and not digging deep through the adversity is how we DO NOT compete. Instead, we are practicing giving in to these distractions. When we compete, we find a way, and finding a way means staying in the moment.
6. Repeat the mantra ” Right Here, Right Now”-
Or use any mantra that will remind you to get back to this moment, this play, or this breath!
7. Get BIG!-
Body language doesn’t talk, it screams! When we are aware and focused on getting BIG, we are actually drawing our attention to being deliberate.
Our intention sets our attention.
Getting BIG builds our confidence as well and it’s the quickest way to build mental strength.
8. Be Thankful-
You can’t be hateful and grateful at the same exact time. When we are not in the moment, thinking about what’s coming up, or what is due, then it’s very easy to slip into worry or stress. When we are in a state of gratitude, it brings us back to the moment! And then we are operating from a place of love rather than hate.
Love doesn’t have to think, hate does.
This isn’t a magical spell either… we have to be in this place of gratitude daily and sometimes hourly.
Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books.
Please check out the podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.