September 6, 2019
Want to bring more joy into your life and decrease your anxiety? Most of us are on autopilot during everyday activities, often not noticing or being present for the details of our lives. This can bring more anxiety to your day. An easy way to combat this is to incorporate some informal mindfulness practices to your daily routines. It will change the way you look at the menial tasks you do every day and help you wake up to the moments of your life.
Here are some easy ways to get started…
Taking a Shower
When you are showering, how many times are you thinking about the day ahead, its meetings and deadlines, or feeling stuck in yesterday’s problems, ruminating about what happened and not being able to let it go? The next time you shower, notice the sounds of the water as it sprays out of the nozzle. Notice the temperature of the water, the feel of the water spraying into your hair and shoulders, the smell of the soap and shampoo, and the bubbles on your hair and skin.
When thoughts arise, acknowledge them and gently bring your attention back to the shower. Again and again, it is likely that your attention will wander. As soon as you realize this, note what it was that distracted you, without judgment, and gently bring your attention back to the shower. Enjoy the experience of JUST BEING in the shower.
Washing the Dishes
Okay, not the most fun task of the day—a monotonous and dreaded chore that most of us simply blunder through to get it over with. What if you added an element of curiosity to washing the dishes? Pay attention to each detail, feeling the pleasant sensation of the running water on your hands, smelling the dish soap, and noticing the fragile little bubbles forming around the dishes. Practice being fully awake and present for the experience, feeling your feet grounded and standing firmly at the sink. Slow down enough to sense the subtle physical sensations in your body.
Stuck in Traffic or Waiting in Line
This can be extremely stressful, especially when you are late for an appointment. While it is easy to feel frustration, anger and anxiety in these situations, these are the best times to practice informal mindfulness techniques. Try a mindful check in and notice how you are showing up in that moment. Are you breathing or holding your breath? Where are your shoulders—tense and up near your ears? Try to relax your shoulders and take a few deep breaths, counting to four on the inhale and eight on the exhale. This automatically activates the relaxation response. Repeat this process for four breaths and try to release any tension with each exhale, resulting in feeling calmer and more centered.
Walking from Your Car to Work
We are in such a hurry to get from point A to point B. The next time you walk from your car to work, notice the sense of touch between your feet and the ground as you walk. Observe how your weight seamlessly transfers from one foot to the other, almost effortlessly. Look at your surroundings, be present and notice what is around you. Listen to the sounds around you, like a bird chirping or the wind blowing.
These are just a few examples of how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. Mindfulness has the potential to shift your attitude from anxiety and frustration to curiosity, openness and being more present for what is happening around you. You may even start to let a bit more joy in during these times.
Experiment, be curious and try it out! These are easy techniques and practices that have the potential to turn simple tasks into the meaningful moments of our lives.
*Author MaryGrace Lomboy offers a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course. Learn more about a class that begins Oct. 23 here.