Skip to content

How to be more present in the moment

In partnership with Dr Laura Kampel

Simple ways to help you stay connected and present

A gray-haired woman wearing gym clothes and practising meditation outside in a park
A gray-haired woman wearing gym clothes and practising meditation outside in a park

Learning how to be mindful or more present in the moment can bring about life-changing benefits, including helping to manage and reduce stress, anxiety and depression

But why do so many of us find it hard to be in the moment?  

“We’re living in this superbly connected world and are continually disrupted and interrupted with emails and messages,” says Dr Laura Kampel, Head of Clinical Services at nib foundation partner, the Black Dog Institute.  

“We’re training ourselves to respond to everything and anything.”  

This reactive state results in the opposite of being mindful, she says – and that is: mindless. 

“It’s like when you are reading and realise after 20 minutes that you have no idea what you have read, or when you walk into a room and forget why you went in there,” she says.  “Your mind is in a different place to your body, and is disengaged” 

Here are some simple ways you can learn to be more present in the moment. 

Practice gratitude  

Looking for the good and practising gratitude can help you connect with the present and the “flourishing” part of life, Laura says. 

Practise gratitude by noticing and appreciating the things and people around you. It might be a comfortable bed, a coffee break at work or a beautiful tree. It could be your health or a special friend.  

You could start by writing down three things you are grateful for in a gratitude journal every day.  

“These small moments of appreciation start to link together and create this sense of contentment, and strengthen your ability to notice the good,” Laura says. 

Young dad with his toddler son playing on their loungeroom floor

Take notice of your surroundings  

Turn on your senses and bring a “curious attention” to the things – both big and little – around you, says Laura.  

When you go for a walk, notice how your body moves and feels. Look at what’s around you – from the expansive sky to the small flower. Feel the wind or sun on your face. Listen for noises close by and in the distance. Smell the air and nature around you. 

Be more present at different moments of the day by bringing your attention to: 

  • What you can hear: Listen to the radio or music without other distractions. Speak to a friend and really listen to their voice. 

  • What you feel: Feel the clothes on your skin, your back against the chair or your feet on the ground.  

  • What you can taste: Think about the flavour and texture of your food. 

  • What you see: Notice your surroundings, watch the sunrise or a bird fly across the sky.  

  • What you can smell: Smell the flowers (literally), notice the smells of food or the sea air. 

 Practise mindfulness meditation 

Mindfulness meditation  teaches you the skill of paying attention to the present and noticing when your mind wanders off, and gently bringing it back to the present. Practising for five to 10 minutes a day is a good start, and using an app can be a big help.  

For a formal practice, set a time each day and perhaps do a breathing technique, a body scan or a loving kindness meditation. 

Informal practice can be incorporating several “mindful moments” into every day, Laura says. “That’s where you bring all your senses into your experience.”  

Having a shower is a great chance to do this. “Think about what the tiles feel like under your feet. How does the water feel? What does the soap smell like?” 

Laura notes that mindfulness meditation is a skill that needs to be developed. “It’s very similar to exercise. We need to practise or train to get better at it.” 

Related: A beginner’s guide to mindfulness, opens in a new tab

Focus on one thing at a time 

“If you’re having a conversation with someone and sending an email at the same time, that’s not being present,” Laura says. 

And even if you think you’re an adept multi-tasker at work, science shows multi-tasking does not equate to efficiency. A US study found it can take more than 20 minutes to regain your initial momentum after you’ve been interrupted.  

“If you’re working on a task and notice your thoughts getting hijacked, gently pull your awareness back to the task and complete it before moving onto the next one.” 

Being more present in the moment takes effort, but the benefits will come, Laura notes. “Give it a go and see for yourself.”   

The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner.   

1 / 0
Dr Laura Kampel wearing an embroidered blouse and smiling at the camera

In partnership with

Dr Laura Kampel

Dr Laura Kampel is a Clinical Psychologist and the Head of Clinical Services at the Black Dog Institute. She has 30 years of experience across community health, private practice, the corporate sector and tertiary education settings. Laura believes everyone has the potential to continually grow and lead a life of value. One of her great passions is for coffee, and Laura will go to great lengths to research, source and mindfully drink coffee. Her new year’s resolution was to do nothing else while drinking coffee and savour the coffee experience.