Transitions Coaching Blog

Thoughts. Reflections. Intentions.

Unwrap the Gift of Presence: Why Busy isn’t Better

By Jennifer Tucker, Writer and Content Creator  |  December 1, 2023
The gift of presence

As the year comes to a close, it’s natural to reflect. And as a team, we started down that path a few weeks ago. We talked about what happened this year and what we should prepare for next year. We looked back on the challenges our clients have faced and what we can do to help them navigate the future.

And then Laurie said something that stopped us all in our tracks: “We don’t spend enough time in the present moment.”

It’s true, we realized. We spend so much time ruminating on the past and anticipating the future that we forget where we are and what we’re doing right now, at this moment in time. And isn’t that really what matters?

We can’t change the past, and we can’t predict the future. But we can embrace the present and choose how to show up, right now. This holiday season, being present may be the best gift we can give to ourselves and those around us.

The Busyness Epidemic

Especially in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we’re conditioned to believe our worth is measured by how many tasks we can juggle and how quickly we can check them off our lists. Some of us even wear our “busyness” as a badge of honor. But what if this busyness actually comes at a great expense? What if, instead of enhancing our worth, it robs us of a precious gift—the gift of being present?

I’ve often wondered why so many of us feel compelled to be in perpetual motion. The compulsion to keep busy can probably be attributed to a combination of cultural norms, societal pressures, and psychological factors.

  • We live in a society that places a strong emphasis on productivity. Being busy is often equated with being successful.
  • Technology has invaded our personal time. Constant connectivity blurs boundaries and drives a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out).
  • Watching our friends, family, or colleagues creates peer pressure. Failure to keep up with their level of activity can cause a fear of judgment or exclusion.

These beliefs are common, but they aren’t doing us any favors. Busyness has become an epidemic that can harm our mental and physical health, dampen our relationships, and hinder our personal and professional growth. It has the potential to impair our overall well-being.

The antidote to this epidemic? Slow down and embrace the present moment.

The Gift of Slowing Down

We’re in a season filled with joy, gathering, and gratitude. But amid the festive chaos, the present of presence is often overlooked. This year, gift yourself using these techniques to be in the moment.

Accept without judgment.

Throughout the day, we cycle through a lot of feelings. And sometimes, we beat ourselves up for allowing them to emerge. When difficult thoughts or emotions arise, acknowledge them without judgment. Observe your feelings as they come and go without getting caught up in a harmful internal narrative.

Engage your senses.

How often do we pay attention to what we hear, see, and feel? Take time to tune into the world around you. Listen to the hum of your household or office. Look for an icicle glistening on a tree. Sense the weight of a warm mug in your hand. Each of these things is fleeting and something to be thankful for at this moment.

Limit distractions.

So few of us give ourselves the space to be present. Think about how often you work at the kitchen table or pick up your pinging phone. These distractions pull you away from the present moment. Prevent disruptions to your focus by creating a dedicated quiet space or turning off notifications on your devices.

Take a breathing break.

We’re constantly breathing, but how often do we notice our breath? Throughout the day, take short, mindful breathing breaks. Pause for a moment, slow your breath, and calm your nervous system. This can help you reset and recenter in the middle of a hectic day.


We all value the ability to multitask, but according to the American Psychological Association, the mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can reduce productivity by as much as 40 percent. Increase your presence by focusing on one thing at a time. Whether reading, cooking, or wrapping gifts, paying attention to a single task can increase your mindfulness and productivity.

Practice gratitude.

This is perhaps one of the most popular ways to be present, and it’s the one mindfulness habit I engage in every day (never mind that I set a reminder on my phone to do it!). Take a moment to reflect on what you’re grateful for, even something as small as a favorite song that popped up on your playlist. Regularly practicing gratitude can shift your focus in a positive way.

The Impact on Your Personal and Professional Well-Being

The gift of presence is one of the most valuable gifts we can give ourselves. Being present and practicing mindfulness can profoundly impact our personal and professional well-being.

Personally, being present can boost our mood, improve our energy, and strengthen our relationships. Professionally, being present can enhance our productivity, expand our creativity, and increase our capacity for decision-making. These are gifts with the potential to change how we experience the world, our connections to those around us, and the upcoming holiday season.

As the season swirls around us and life threatens to become a whirlwind of activity, let’s unwrap the present of presence. Take a moment to just be here. Step aside from the crowd. Take a deep breath. Acknowledge the ground beneath your feet. You may find yourself feeling calmer and more centered, even at the busiest time of the year.

At Transitions Coaching, we work with people every day who are feeling overwhelmed by personal and professional demands. Our individual coaching and group programs can help you step outside of the past and the future to make sense of your present context. Meet the Transitions Coaching team here and learn how we can help you chart your growth as a human and a leader.