We live in a world where ‘multi-tasking’ is held in the highest regard. We sit in front of screens for hours each day. We regale each other with stories of how many different things we think that we can do simultaneously. We over-schedule ourselves and our children. 

 It’s gotten to the point where sitting peacefully for any period of time without a phone or a watch pinging at us is the thing that feels most like work

If we are focusing on multiple things at a time, then we are not being fully in the present moment. We are missing details in the world around us, both the world at large and our own personal universe. Therefore, we are absent from our own lives.

Read that again: We are absent from our own lives.

Katy used a great analogy to explain the importance of being able to get yourself into the present moment. 

When attendance is being taken in class, the teacher calls out a name and waits to hear the student respond out loud. If they do not hear the student announce their presence, they are marked absent. 

The teacher may see the student sitting in their assigned seat, within view, but unless the student makes their presence known, they are not considered to be there.

The same way a teacher may put an “A” by your name if you don’t intentionally let them know that you are there, if you do not practice the same intention in your day-to-day life, you are running the risk of being absent. 

If you’re checking your phone, scrolling through your newsfeed or staring at your watch while your life is calling you, you are not fully present.  

Sitting in the moment, observing how we are feeling, breathing deeply and fully, utilizing our senses; those are the ways we are most present. Taking it all in. Those moments; the big ones, the little ones, the little ones that turn into big ones.

We’ve lived our lives like this for so long, we believe it to be our norm. Missing moments while focused on multiple other things that we believe to be important at the time. Hearing the repeated calling of our name but not replying when necessary. Shrugging off what we may have missed, believing that we can make it up later.

Utter absenteeism.

The concepts of mindfulness and being present seem like trends, buzzwords that clutter our news feeds, or a topic that our boss discusses briefly in a staff meeting in order to appease HR. Perhaps it reminds you of the rhetoric of the ’60s with “Be here, now.” and other “hippy-dippy logic.”

The fact is, not only has mindfulness been around for thousands of years, its benefits are backed by science and proven to be effective. Being present isn’t just some ideal thrust upon us by meditation apps and new-age gurus trying to sell products. It is a building block to improving your mental health.

It’s a vital way to avoid absenteeism in your own life.

Drs. Fielder and Huser discuss the importance of being present with all of their clients. It’s a consistent aspect of the work done while in session. As experts in anxiety, they know the importance of mindfulness in harnessing anxiety symptoms. They teach simple ways to gently pull attention back into the moment. This work is one of the cornerstones of their Know Your Arc© system.

Recently, we’ve heard people express their fear that as life progresses to a post-Covid world, the ability to slow down and truly be present with each other and ourselves will disappear and we’ll be back to trying to juggle multiple obligations, campaigning once again for “Multi tasker of the Month.” 

(Multi tasking is a myth, by the way. More on that in a later blog.)

We also know that a lot of people associate being present and/or mindful with having to practice something potentially time consuming, like meditation or yoga. The truth is that there are quick ways to practice mindfulness that take mere minutes and become easier to use the more you do them. 

The internet in general and our website and Facebook pages (Rethink Anxiety and Anxiety Resource Center) specifically, feature several ways to practice your presence. 

You don’t have to be absent from your life. In fact, we all need to find ways to be more present. It’s the first line of defense for stress and anxiety, especially as we transition from over a  year of quarantine, social distancing, and all things COVID. 

If you find yourself struggling beyond what some grounding techniques can fix, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health provider in your area and set up a session. Our brains are perfectly built alarm systems that have been on high alert for over a year. Sometimes we need to consult a professional in order to get the system back in order. So that we can improve our attendance in our own lives.