How to Bring Mindfulness Into Your Daily Life

How to Bring Mindfulness Into Your Daily Life

Read time: 8 minutes

Practicing mindfulness doesn’t have to mean closing your eyes and sitting on a cushion for hours on end. Mindfulness can be done anywhere, any time, and in any style. The key is noticing—judgment-free—what is happening before your eyes, ears, mouth, and nose. 

We’ve put together our favorite tips for practicing mindfulness in everyday life. Mindfulness can bring more meaning to any activity whether you’re washing the dishes, cooking dinner, exercising, or even brushing your teeth.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is being fully present and aware of what you’re doing in the moment without placing judgment on your thoughts or feelings. Simple mindfulness can sometimes be confused with mindfulness meditation, which is a more in-depth training practice that strengthens the skill of being mindful. Both mindfulness and mindfulness meditation can become an everyday habit with a little intention and patience. 

Benefits of Mindfulness

The benefits of mindfulness are virtually endless. Researchers seem to be discovering more reasons to practice mindfulness on an almost daily basis. Not only can mindfulness help reduce anxiety and depression, it can also be especially useful for people managing chronic conditions. It does this by calling for us to notice what’s happening in the here and now rather than ruminating on the past we can’t change or focusing on the future we can’t predict. 

Other benefits of practicing mindfulness in daily life or mindfulness meditation include:

In a lot of ways, practicing mindfulness goes against the perpetually busy, always multitasking, fully distracted way of life glorified in many modern cultures. That’s why it might be challenging to get the hang of it at first. Try to go easy on yourself. As the renowned mindfulness meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg says, “we can always begin again.” If you find your mind drifting as you try the tips below, gently redirect your mind back to the present moment and begin again. 

Mindful Cleaning

South African man mindfully washing windows | Mindfulness for diabetes | One Drop

Cleaning is likely something you want to get through as quickly as possible. But, before turning into a vacuuming or laundry speedracer, let’s look at how you might use the time to freshen up your mental well-being. 

The next time you intend to clean, try taking a few minutes to slow down and notice the details around you. After you’re done, think about how the experience felt and if you’re calmer than before you started.

Set the scene

Start by turning the area you’d like to clean into a distraction-free zone. 

  • Move your phone to another room, or put it on “silent”
  • Turn television and music off 
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes  

Any time you notice your mind traveling to other thoughts as you clean, simply acknowledge them. Then, return to the present moment.  

This could mean:

  • Listening to a mop glide across the floor
  • Noticing soapy bubbles pop

Washing dishes 

Scrubbing dishes offers plenty of opportunities to practice mindfulness. Notice:

  • The temperature of the water
  • The smell of soap
  • Food falling from plates and bowls and going down the drain 
  • The sounds of scrubbing
  • How your feet feel on the kitchen floor

Mindful sweeping 

The to-and-fro rhythmic motion of sweeping can be almost soothing. Pay attention to:

  • How the broom handle feels in your hands 
  • The sound of the bristles against the floor 
  • The formation of a dirt/dust pile 
  • Your breathing as your arms are in motion 

Buried in laundry mindfulness 

As you wash and fold clothes, observe the following:

  • The texture of fabrics
  • Patterns on clothing
  • The weight of clothes as you transfer them to the dryer
  • How clothes smell coming out of the dryer

Mindful dusting

Polishing household items is a great time to slow down and be in the moment. As you’re dusting, try:

  • Matching your breath to each up-and-down or back-and-forth motion 
  • Seeing how the light bounces off of a newly cleaned surface
  • Noticing the weight of the cleaning cloth
  • Observing dust collected on the rag 

Mindful Cooking

Asian woman mindfully cooking and tasting food | Mindfulness in everyday life | One Drop for diabetes

Set the scene

Turning your kitchen into your sanctuary in order to fully tune into the sights, smells, sounds, and textures can be done by eliminating distractions:

  • Move phone to another room or put it on “silent”
  • Turn television and music off
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes

Any time you notice your mind wandering as you’re cooking, simply acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, and then return to the present moment.  

This could mean:

  • Listening to the sizzle of a frying pan
  • Noticing the texture of a pepper

Your nose knows

Much like a knife is a tool for chopping, scent is a tool for mindfulness. As you’re cooking, use your nose to notice smells such as:

  • Freshly chopped herbs
  • Oil heating up in a pan
  • Spices and seasonings

Notice if the scents change the longer you smell them. Do they get stronger? Weaker? How do they make your nose feel?

Feast your eyes

You “watch” your diet, but watching what you actually cook can put your mind in a calm place. Consider keeping a mindful eye on the following:

  • Dough expanding in the oven
  • Juice dripping down the side of a tomato
  • Browning of meat on the stove

What do you notice? How does the shape or color of food change as you cook? 

A chef’s touch

Mindful cooking is all about noticing your senses and that includes touch. Stay curious about the texture of your food. Notice how the following might feel:

  • A bag of frozen vegetables
  • The roughness of a potato skin
  • The coolness of a cucumber
  • The warmth of an oven mitt in use

A recipe for open ears

A kitchen can be full of interesting sounds. Tune into them with curiosity:

  • Boiling water
  • Sauteing vegetables
  • Whisking of eggs
  • Spreading butter on toast 

Just for the taste of it

If you’re an at-home cook who likes to taste as you go, observe how the food:

  • Feels on your tongue (e.g., warm, cool)
  • Sounds when chewing (e.g. loud, soft)
  • Tastes (e.g. sweet, spicy, bitter, salty)
  • And how much chewing you have to do before swallowing 

Mindful Exercise

Plus size woman mindfully exercising in the woods | Mindfulness in everyday life | One Drop for diabetes

If you’re getting some movement in, it’s easy to think you’re living in the present moment. After all, you likely notice all the sensations in your body from breathing harder to fatigued muscles to sweat dripping from your brow. 

But, it’s also easy to tune out with a movie, a podcast, or possibly some music. Research shows that when people intentionally focus on how they move and their environment, they enjoy exercise more and stick with their exercise routine longer.

Set the scene

Setting yourself up for a mindful workout starts with tuning into yourself and the world around you. 

Start by putting your phone away, turning off music, and removing any other entertainment distractions. 

Next, bring your attention to your physical experience. Notice, without judgment, what parts of your body are working hard. What sensations are happening? 

Maybe you notice the balls of your feet hitting the sidewalk at a certain angle or the warm air coming from your throat as you exhale. 

Choose your anchors

It’s very normal for the mind to wander. Select some anchors to redirect your attention back to the here and now when you notice your mind thinking about the past or the future. 

Some anchors might be:

  • Where your feet land as you lunge
  • How water feels in your mouth
  • The sound of birds chirping
  • The temperature of the air
  • The sight of your breath on a cold day

Scan your breath

Beyond breath supporting your movement, it can also be used as a tool in mindful exercise. 

Scan your breath and notice its pace, how it feels during an inhale and exhale, and how it changes with each movement. Notice any thoughts or feelings—without judging them—as you tune into your breathing. Let them wash over you like a wave washes over a seashell.  

Practice kindness 

While running, squats, and planks may be difficult exercises, one of the most challenging exercises to master is self-kindness. Your workout is a great place to start. 

As you’re moving, notice the quality of your thoughts. Can you appreciate your pace, your ability, and your endurance just as it is? 

Can you let go of the need to compare yourself to others? 

Can you thank yourself for showing up in this moment and choosing to make time for movement? 

Mindful Teeth Brushing

Black man brushing his teeth mindfully | Mindfulness in everyday life | One Drop for diabetes

Brushing your teeth can freshen up your breath and strengthen your heart health, but it can also restore your mind. And, it’s practically a built-in moment for mindfulness if you’re brushing twice a day. 

Standing in front of the sink each day offers the chance to acknowledge the present moment and “turn down the volume” on the thoughts and feelings that can lead to stress.

Set the scene

Creating space for mindful teeth brushing involves removing or turning off anything that might distract you. This includes:

  • Phones
  • Music 
  • Bathroom reading material 

Any time you notice your mind wandering as you’re brushing, notice that those thoughts are present and gently shift your attention back to the act of brushing. 

This might mean:

  • Watching the flow of water stream from the sink 
  • Noticing the bristles graze your gum line 

Before brushing

Teeth brushing involves repetitive movements, which is perfect for practicing mindfulness. Start with the first step of loading up your brush with toothpaste. 

Notice:

  • The sound of water wetting your brush
  • The color of your brush
  • Squeezing the tube of toothpaste onto the bristles
  • The fresh smell of toothpaste
  • How your mouth tastes before brushing

The act of brushing 

Not only does paying close attention to brushing make dentists everywhere proud, it also leads to the possibility of observing what you might otherwise ignore. 

For example: 

  • The weight of the toothbrush in your hand
  • What muscles in your arm and wrist are at work
  • How the bristles feel against your teeth, gums, and tongue
  • How much foam gathers as you brush
  • The sound of spitting out the toothpaste 

Debrief the brushing

To conclude your teeth brushing mindfulness practice, take a moment to recognize the following: 

  • How your mouth tastes and smells
  • If your teeth have changed in texture (use your tongue)
  • If your teeth look brighter in the mirror
  • How your sink looks 
  • Brushing up on your practice 

Small mindfulness practices can be built into your everyday routines. They can be done anywhere and in as little as two to three minutes at a time. 

After all, that’s all it takes to give your brain a break and a boost. 

This article has been clinically reviewed by Alexa Stelzer, RDN, LD, CDCES, clinical health coach at One Drop.

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One Drop Team
Nov 28, 2022

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