How to Stay in the Present Moment as a Daydreaming Introvert

A daydreaming introvert meditates

Introverts are known for daydreaming — but it’s important not to miss out on what’s happening in the present moment.

Introverts are known for getting lost in our own heads. We’re content to sit quietly and daydream, letting our imaginations take off, or just “spacing out.” How many of us have had people say, “Earth to (our name)” or “Hello?” or some other variation of “Are you paying attention?”

While our imagination is one of our strengths, it can also pull us out of the present and prevent us from living in the moment. Time we spend getting absorbed in our own thoughts is definitely necessary recharge time for us, but it’s also important — and healthy — to stay present in our lives.

Daydreaming is key for me in terms of both fueling my creativity and ambition — whether thinking up a storyline in my writing or visualizing how life could look in three years. But it’s also a never-ending struggle with staying in the here-and-now vs. spending so much time living in my imagination or the future. Here are a few super-quick — and introvert-friendly! — ways introverts who love to daydream can still stay present.

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4 Ways to Stay in the Present Moment as a Daydreaming Introvert

1. Remind yourself to listen to others… really listen.

Introverts get praised for their listening skills — we’re the “quiet ones” who sit back and absorb a conversation. We’re reliable listeners who are perceptive and thoughtful, who take their time before responding and don’t jump into the fray so quickly. 

And yet… 

Confession: My listening skills sometimes leave something to be desired. While I like to take conversations in and give people space to speak as long as possible before responding, I am not a great listener if my thoughts start to wander. I may give the impression of being a good listener, but, sometimes, it’s a struggle. Any introverts out there who can relate to this?

I try. I really do. But if what’s going on in my head is a fraction more interesting than what I’m hearing, or if my daydreaming was interrupted in order to listen to someone else, or if I am just peopled-out after a long day and feel an introvert hangover coming on, I run the risk of getting distracted or zoning out. 

Usually, not enough to completely lose the thread of the conversation, but enough where I might miss a couple of sentences. And I feel guilty about it, because (as an empathetic type) I do want to give that person my attention. (Well, most of the time.)

So I’ve started taking a second to tell myself, “Listen.” It’s simple, straightforward, and sometimes a bit jarring. To me, this little reminder also sounds like a stern teacher, but it does the trick. And I pull myself back into the present — and back into the conversation. 

2. Use the five senses to take in your surroundings.

At one point — just before I started writing some initial notes for this piece — I was on my porch daydreaming about past or future me being in Europe. (I think I was walking around with gelato in Italy or something… which, to be fair to my daydreaming self, is something I hope to do again in the near future!) 

But it was a lovely evening right where I was in the present moment, so I stopped — light over trees, cooling night air, the calm and the quiet, a cool drink, boards under my bare feet, a comfortable chair, and a peaceful space of my own. I was not in Europe (nor was I eating gelato). But I was on my porch in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, and that was pretty nice, too. 

When you find yourself daydreaming — to the point of forgetting where you are or getting a bit too lost — stop and try to use the senses to pull yourself back. Engage whichever ones you are able to with whatever you are closest to in the moment: How does the air around you smell? Maybe someone is baking cookies or grilling. Or maybe it’s just rained. Or maybe it’s a crisp fall morning and the air is clean and fresh. 

What can you feel around you? How do the leaves on your houseplants feel on your fingertips, or the soft carpet beneath your feet? Is the air hot or cold, dry or humid? If you’re eating or drinking, how does it taste — sweet, sour, spicy? The point here is to be aware of your present surroundings.

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3. Remember to breathe — the slower, the better.

I’m definitely one of those people who needs to remind themselves to take slow, deep breaths, especially if I need to de-stress or am just trying to relax tense muscles.

Stop. Take a breath. Heck, take another one. You’re human; you need to anyway.

Then, why not pay attention to it for a few moments? 

This trick of intentionally focusing on our breath can help anyone relax and stay present, but for introverts, when we’re getting pulled into our own thoughts, reminding ourselves to do the most basic human thing pulls us back to the present moment. Breathe now, in reality, and not in our very active imagination. 

Taking time to breathe also gives our minds a break. Whether you’ll go right back to your daydreaming — or you’ll switch to another activity or task — focusing on your breath is a healthy way to do a quick micro-recharge. It’s also a key component of the next tip!

4. Do a “mini-meditation” to refocus.

Similar to breathing or focusing on multiple senses to absorb the environment around you, there are other ways to reset and be present. I first heard about “mini-meditations” sometime during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are multiple resources out there for examples and varieties of short meditations, and I am by no means a meditation expert, but I’d like to share what’s worked well for me. 

One quick activity I learned about is a great exercise that pulls me back into the present moment. All I do is focus on one thing, either something I look at or something I listen to. 

For a visual exercise, I focus on an object — and only that object — for a brief time. We’re talking 15-30 seconds. The first time I tried this trick, I watched the swirling steam above my teacup. Not only did it relax me, it grounded me. (Don’t forget to breathe, too!) Try this with treetops. The clouds. Water. Light from a lamp. A potted plant. Anything. The point is to focus on one thing, clearing your head of all other thoughts. 

If you prefer, you can do the same with sounds. (You can also use a meditation app for this — there are a lot of great options out there, including Insight Timer, Headspace, and Calm.) Maybe it’s a bird singing, or the rumble of thunder in the distance, or even the steady sounds of traffic outside your window. The point is, choose one thing to bring you back into the moment.

Daydreaming Is Great, but It’s More Important to Live in the Present

Daydreaming can be a relaxing activity for introverts, but we should also remember not to get too lost in our own heads. For example, there have been times when I’ve lived in the future a bit too much, and it’s been to the point where I lose the thread of the plot in the present — i.e., I can’t appreciate the moment, or I become frustrated with the present because whatever is happening in my imagination is more exciting (see “gelato in Italy” above). 

But if we remember to take just a few seconds to pay attention to our surroundings — including the people in those surroundings — that can help pull us back. 

My fellow introverts, how do you get yourself back into the present moment when daydreaming is taking over? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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