Have you ever got in the car and arrived at your destination, and thought, “How did I get here?” Or have you ever been in the middle of writing an e-mail, when you answer the phone then looked back at the last paragraph of your e-mail and wondered, “How did that happen?” Are you constantly misplacing or losing things and turning the house/car/office upside down looking for them? This is an indicator that you are not practising present time consciousness.
In society today, we have so much coming at us that it becomes almost impossible for us not to multitask, and as a result we are becoming a society that half-does things and we are happy to settle for ‘good enough’. This, to me, says compromise and mediocrity. Do we really want to be living a mediocre life?
It is because we have so much coming at us that we need to slow down and learn to be more present.
The Stress of Multitasking
You have heard us talk about your parasympathetic and your sympathetic nervous system: Your parasympathetic nervous system is the one that deals with rest and recovery; it controls your body’s response while at rest. Your sympathetic nervous system is the one that deals with your fight or flight response; it controls your body’s response to a perceived threat. Although the sympathetic nervous system is constantly active at a basic level to maintain homeostasis, we do not want to overstimulate it.
Constantly trying to multitask means that we are mostly activating a fight or flight response in our body, which means we are mostly in a state of stress. This causes an increase in adrenaline which increases heart rate, affects muscles, blood pressure rises, and sugar metabolism escalates. This constant need to multitask could be contributing to us being the sickest version of our species.
Chronic diseases are increasing. Diseases like cancer are on the increase, regardless of how much money and talent we throw at it. Degenerative conditions are increasing: arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and the like are becoming rampant. It is well publicised that asthma is increasing. Childhood obesity is increasing. The only thing that is not increasing is our health.
How we deal with the little things determines how we respond to the big things in life.
Have you ever noticed that when you are not present you tend towards the more dramatic? Whether it’s in your own life or channelling drama from others. Being fully present in each moment of our daily life increases our ability to recover from major events. This means these events become less impactful and we move away from the drama that would normally surround them.
Know what it feels like to have something in your hand then put it down.
Our aim is to help you become fully present when you are doing a task, when you stop the task and then when you start the next one. Being fully engaged in one task before moving onto the next one. Not being fully present is how things end up getting lost! Where are those car keys?!
How Can We Become More Present?
When you are fully present, your nervous system reacts as it should: instead of being in a constant state of stress, your body can react and is then able to recover. One way to become fully present is to learn to ‘single-task’.
Try this simple exercise in presence for a week, the apply the same principle to the other tasks in your day and take note of how much less stressed you become.
Teach yourself how to be fully present when brushing your teeth. From the second you pick up your toothbrush to the second you lay it down, focus on brushing your teeth. Nothing else.
(You can take this exercise one step further and brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. This requires you to be even more present!)