Reduce stress by turning everyday activities into mindful activities
Sometimes stress is caused by doing one thing while wishing you were doing something else. While you cannot be expected to enjoy necessary everyday tasks and might find some rather unpleasant, bringing mindfulness to these activities can change your habitual negative reaction to them. Here are some suggestions for how to bring mindfulness to everyday tasks.
Washing the dishes, folding the laundry, sweeping the floor:
Washing the dishes is the classic example used by many Mindfulness facilitators to illustrate how to be present. If you feel that doing the dishes, or any monotonous chore, is one of the dreaded daily tasks that makes you feel bored, unhappy, and possibly stressed try this suggestion:
Pay attention to each minute moment, and see if you can discover joy in the detail. For example, sense into your fingers and find a pleasant sensation in the warm water, see the calming glow of the multicoloured fragile little bubbles, connect with a sense of achievement in a shining dish. Try not to keep your mind focussed and whenever it wanders to the next task remind yourself to begin fresh looking for something little that brings you joy. Practice being fully where you are, standing at the sink. For this to work it takes your commitment to giving it a real try. Set your intention to being present and slowing down to be able to feel and sense into the subtle physical sensations in your body.
You may find that you can bring this attitude to other daily tasks and chores. Eventually, you even begin to enjoy these activities for the opportunity to be present and mindful.
Stuck in Traffic, waiting for the doctor, on a long flight:
Waiting for an apportionment, feeling stuck in one place, or having little control of your surroundings can be extremely stressful. It is very easy to get angry and anxious in these situations. However, if you could utilise this time to practice mindful techniques it could not only make good use of your time, but also change your mindset, and release tension and stress.
To begin it is helpful to bring your body and mind into a more relaxed state. Try breathing in counting to 11, and out counting to 7. Repeat this process a few times until you feel more calm and centred. If you then feel that you want to take another step focus your mind on the sensations of your breath in your body wherever you experience them the most dominant. This could be at the tip of your nose, or in your throat, or the rising and falling of your chest, or the expansion and contraction of your belly.
In the beginning this will be interesting but soon you will discover that your mind gets bored of observing your breath and starts to drift away or jump around. This is where the mindfulness practice really starts. There is nothing wrong with the jumping mind; just catching yourself whenever this happens and remember to reconnect with the next breath. A childlike curious attitude will help you in making this not a rigid and frustrating exercise that you feel you constantly fail but perhaps a interesting journey of observation; the aim is to remember over and over again. While you may not be able to make the traffic move you may be able to learn more about the movements of your mind cultivating your mindfulness.
We hope that these examples will illustrate practical ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life, and how it has the potential to improve your resistance to, attitude, and reactions to unpleasant or stressful situations.
Learn about the difference between formal & informal mindfulness practice »