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Getting present

Worrying means our minds are focused on the future, on things that might go wrong that we have no way of predicting. When we get caught in a worry cycle, we lose productivity and enjoyment we could be experiencing in the present. Focusing on the present can break a worry cycle. You might know this as mindfulness or being present.

How to get present

  1. Find a comfortable spot where you can be free from interruptions.
  2. Sit and gently close your eyes.
  3. Take several slow, deep breaths.
  4. Notice where your mind is. It may be replaying something from the past, thinking about the present, or worrying about the future. Whatever your mind is doing, just notice it.
  5. Now, shift your attention to what is going on around you. Identify what sounds you hear, what scents you smell, how it feels to sit wherever it is you’re sitting, or what your breath feels like as you inhale and exhale.
  6. When you notice your mind shifting to your worries, gently bring your attention back to what is going on around you in the present moment.
  7. Continue doing this for several minutes.
  8. Gently open your eyes and spend a few moments reflecting on your experience. Were you able to shift your attention away from your worries? What did that feel like?


Mindfulness practices like this one help us stop worrying about what could happen in the future by turning our attention to the present. Many activities can keep us in the present, including exercise, hobbies, watching or reading something interesting, or even doing household chores. The next time you notice yourself in a worry cycle, try practicing mindfulness.

On your own: Make a list of the activities that take your mind off your worries, use the above mindfulness exercise or try the free guided meditations offered by the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.


Downloadable resources to use on your own

Information Sheet

Managing Worry

How-To Guide

Mindfulness Exercise

Practice Slower Breathing

Steps for Relaxation