5 Everyday Tasks You Can Do Mindfully

Do you wish there were more hours in a day?  What if I told you there was a way to expand time through mindfulness? When we live in a world where multitasking is expected and we struggle to find the time to do everything we need to do in a day, it’s hard to find the time to be mindful (even when we know it is good for us!). Therefore, we have to be creative in finding everyday tasks that can help us in practicing mindfulness. These tasks bring you back to the present moment throughout your day and help relieve stress and anxiety, which, in turn, makes you feel like you have added hours to your day.  Try it and see for yourself. Here are some suggestions on everyday tasks that I use to practice mindfulness.

1.  Take a Mindful Shower (or Bath)

bird bath

Before I get into the shower, I set the intention that I will be taking a mindful shower. This means that when I am physically in the shower, my mind is also in the shower. I’m not thinking about what I need to do today, or what happened yesterday. I’m focusing on the showering experience. I’m feeling the warm water on my back. I’m hearing the water splash into the tub. I’m following the motions I take to shampoo my hair and wash my body with soap. When I notice that my mind wandered (and it does, several times), I gently bring my focus back to the shower.  I don’t get mad at myself for not staying present. Wandering is what the mind does. I give myself credit for noticing that it wandered and make an effort to bring it back, again and again. If I find that I am having a hard time staying present, I may take a few deep breaths and just remind myself that I am in the shower right now and that is what I want to focus on. My mindful showers help prepare me for my day much more than my unmindful showers, where I am trying to plan my day or thinking about all the things I need to do. Unmindful showers usually just end up stressing me out before my day has even begun.  Mindful showers help me start my day fresh and clean for both my body and my mind.

2.  Brush Your Teeth Mindfully

toothbrush

Brushing your teeth mindfully is really just focusing on the actions you take in brushing your teeth and doing the motions a little slower than you normally would.  I follow the steps I take to do this everyday task: pick up the toothbrush and the toothpaste, put the toothpaste on the toothbrush, and then start brushing. I feel the way the electric toothbrush moves in my mouth, I taste the toothpaste, I watch myself in the mirror as I brush. I just focus on this one action. My mind wanders, and I bring it back to the task at hand.  This mindful task is a simple, short task that does not take a lot of time, but you do still reap the benefits of practicing a mindful task.  My teeth never feel as clean as when I decide to brush them mindfully.

3.  Eat a Mindful Meal or Snack

frog plate

Having a mindful meal or snack starts before you take your first bite.  I start off by having gratitude for the meal I am about to enjoy and for a short moment, I think about all the people and steps involved in the process that brought this food to my table.  The people that harvested it, packaged it, shipped it, stocked it, and sold it, and if I didn’t cook it, the people that cooked it for me. I then observe the texture, color, and smell of the food as I take my first bite. I savor the moment, chewing slowly and trying to really taste the food.  If it is a full meal in front of me, I don’t necessarily eat mindfully, to this degree, for the entire meal or it would take me 4 hours to eat it. However, I try for the first few bites to really focus on what I am eating.  I mindfully eat only when I am by myself, to avoid stares from others, which can be distracting. We often just shovel food into our mouths, not really noticing or tasting the food we are eating.  Many of us eat our lunch while we are still working, or eat dinner in front of the TV. Once in a while, we should set the intention to practice mindful eating and really take the time to appreciate the food that we are putting into our mouths that nourish our bodies and give us energy. Don’t have time for a mindful meal or snack, how about a mindful cup of tea or coffee?

4.  Drive Mindfully

drive sign

When I choose to drive mindfully, I do so when I am alone in my car. I take a few deep breaths before I pull out of my parking spot and I turn off my radio.  A lot of times I drive mindfully on my way to work, which I feel prepares me further for my day. I feel my hands on the steering wheel. I listen to the noises outside my car. I feel the vibrations of the car. I see the cars, buildings, trees and mountains around me as I pass by.  I notice the color of the sky. I notice my feelings such as when I get agitated at other drivers. I don’t weave in and out of lanes, but instead put my car on cruise control. When my mind wanders, I take a deep breathe and bring my focus back to the road. When I arrive to my destination, I turn the car off, close my eyes, and take a moment for myself before I get out of my car. I take a few deep breaths and I give myself some positive encouragement. I tell myself that today is going to be a good day and even if things don’t go as planned, that I will be able to handle it. Mindful driving is something you want to do when you are not rushing to get somewhere.  It is pretty difficult to drive mindfully, when you are focused on the time and worried about being late.  We should always drive somewhat mindfully in order to reach our destination safely. How many times have you reached your destination, but because you were so distracted with your thoughts, you wonder how you even got there? And then you realize you really weren’t paying attention to the drive at all. That’s pretty scary.

5.  Walk Mindfully

walking native americans

Walking mindfully is something I do variously throughout my day when I can remember to do it. I may do it when I’m walking the dog, or walking from my office to a meeting at work, or walking from the car to the house.  I choose to focus on the actual action of walking including: my breathing, feeling my feet on the ground, feeling the way my body moves, and observing my surroundings. Even if I’m rushing to get to a meeting and need to walk fast, I try to mindfully walk fast, noticing my speed and what it takes for me to walk fast in order to get me where I need to go. I notice how my arms swing a little more, my legs quickly switch from left to right, my breathing is faster, and my heart rate speeds up. If my mind wanders, for example, I start worrying about being late or worrying about what I need to present at the meeting, I remind myself that I will get there when I get there and I am doing the best that I can.  I give myself a little positive encouragement, telling myself that I know what I need to present at the meeting and I will do great. Even if it doesn’t go as planned, it’s going to be fine.  I then return to walking mindfully, staying in the present moment.  A lot of times when we are walking to get somewhere, just like when we drive, we are so distracted by our thoughts. When we get to the destination, we don’t remember the path we took to get there or what we saw on the way there.  Walking mindfully helps me stay present, enjoy the journey, and reduces my stress and anxiety.

“There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

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