How to Get Off Autopilot and Become More Present

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Do you feel as if you're living your life on autopilot? Are you just going through the motions to get through the day? It's easy to get caught up in the daily grind and lose touch with your sense of self. The good news is that you can definitely switch from auto-pilot to manual mode, giving you more control over your life and daily choices.

Cut Back on Screen Time

According to Nielsen, adults in the United States spend nearly half of their day in front of their computers, phones, and televisions. A constant barrage of news stories and endless social media updates can wreak havoc on your sense of well-being and distract you from your own life. To become a more active participant in the present, try unplugging for a while. 

Take a Few Deep Breaths

Finding an opportunity ground yourself does not require special tools or more than a few minutes of your time. All you need to do is take a few deep breaths. Harvard Health Publishing says that doing so will slow your heartbeat, lower your blood pressure, and alleviate feelings of anxiety caused by your lungs receiving an inadequate amount of air. As you physically become calmer, you can focus on releasing stressful thoughts and quieting your mind. After a few moments of relaxed breathing, you'll be ready to make better choices for yourself as you continue your day.

Feel Your Feelings

Are you on autopilot because you're trying to avoid certain emotions? While this can temporarily spare yourself from feelings you'd rather not feel, it also makes your daily life suffer. Allow yourself to be angry, upset or even happy when these emotions arise. If you must delay them, set aside time to acknowledge, explore, and accept these feelings when you can. Meditation, journaling, or simply allowing a quiet moment to yourself will help you feel these feelings, release them, and then move on. You won't have to stay busy to distract yourself from the present any longer.

Cultivate Curiosity

When was the last time you truly savored a meal or noticed the feeling of the sun hitting your skin? When you're stuck in autopilot mode, you often don't have the chance to experience your senses to the fullest. Take a moment to feel the texture of your smartphone's screen or the keys on your keyboard. Notice the pressure you're exerting on your chair and the movement of the air around you. Continue to explore the physical sensations you're experiencing within this moment. Cultivate this curiosity and use it anytime you find yourself slipping back into auto-pilot mode.

Practice Gratitude

Taking control over the choices you make can be as simple as practicing gratitude. Consciously being grateful improves physical and mental health, increases self-esteem, and reduces stress, according to Psychology Today. It also reminds you of what you love about your life, which helps you to stay present and make decisions that positively support the life you want to live.

You don't have to watch your life pass you by. You are allowed to slow down, explore, and decide what you want from your everyday experiences. Try to make these small changes every day to take control of your own choices. It might surprise you how wonderful the present can be.

Jennifer Silvershein