Challenge Yourself – Mindful Daily Routines

Are you ready to challenge yourself? Here, I give you some effective mindfulness based practices that you can start doing already today! All you need is an open mind and you’re good to go.

Mindful daily routines

The challenge of this week is about mindful daily routines. Have you ever thought about how much on a daily basis you are operating in an “autopilot” mode ? When we are in this automatized mode, we do not concentrate on what we are actually doing in the moment, but we are either in the past (in your memories thinking how yesterday went, why you didn’t go to the gym last week at all etc.) or future (you might worry about some work related meeting, thinking of what to buy from the grocery store later today etc.). In order to increase the level of awareness and being in the present moment while performing some of your daily, automatic routines, I challenge you – and myself – to stop at least once a day and really raise the awareness on what you are doing in the present. In other words, being mindful. You can choose any daily activity you prefer, but here are some examples to get started with:

1. Eating mindfully

How often do you scroll your instagram or other social media while eating? I know, I do it myself too. I always have the phone close by and it is an automation. Now I challenge you to eat at least one meal per day mindfully.

How to do it? Well first of all, put your phone away, close the TV and eliminate any other possible distractions. Then, start eating. To help you concentrate, you can ask yourself these questions: What does the food look like, what colors or shapes can I see? What does it smell like? How does it taste? Is it sweet, sour, something else? Is the food hot, cold or warm? How does my body feel once I eat? In case you find it difficult to concentrate or you feel restless, then you do not need to push yourself trying to be mindful during the whole meal. You can start with very small steps and moments.

2. Putting your clothes on mindfully

This one might be an easy one, because putting clothes on doesn’t take a lot of time. You can take this as a daily practice every morning. Especially on working days, the mornings might be quite hectic once you try to optimize your sleep and want to be very efficient before heading to the office. Stopping in the moment and being mindful definitely isn’t the first thing you might think of during those critical moments. But I challenge you to do it differently this time. You would anyway need to put your clothes on, right? So why not doing it mindfully.

How to do it? Simply focus on your clothes. Take your shirt from the closet and focus on what it looks like. Ask yourself, how does the material feel like in my hands? Can I smell the scent of the detergent? How does the shirt feel like against the skin? How does my body feel wearing this piece of clothing? How do I feel starting the day having this clothing on?

3. Brushing your teeth mindfully

Brushing your teeth is another place where you can get very easily caught up in your thoughts. I cannot remember a day, when I would have fully focused on brushing my teeth. instead of something else. Especially, as brushing teeth happens in the mornings when all the exciting – or not so exciting – plans for the day are freshly on your mind, and in the evenings once you might have the need to make a recap of the day or might already be planning the next day, it is challenging to try to switch off that autopilot mode. But let’s try this challenge as well!

How to do it? I guess you brush your teeth in front of the mirror? If yes, let the mirror help you with this practice. Before even taking the tooth brush, stop for a while and watch your teeth. Just watch without analysis or criticism. Then, take your toothbrush. Once starting to brush your teeth, watch with curiosity where you brush, with what intensity and speed you do it. You can even make yourself an action plan how to brush your teeth or you can ask yourself these questions: How much toothpaste do I take? What does the toothpaste taste like? From what teeth do I start with? What sensations there are in my mouth and teeth while brushing? Does it feel pleasant, fresh, cool or unpleasant? How do I feel right after brushing?

4. Taking a shower mindfully

I think this is a very pleasant and great opportunity to relax and take the time for yourself while getting this mandatory daily routine out of your way. What might help you with being mindful in the shower is the water element, the soap and shampoo that activate your senses and makes you already more aware of the present moment.

How to do it: While going to the shower, make the decision to leave everything that stresses or worries you out of the bathroom this time. Think as if you were in a spa, enjoying your day off or even think that you were on a holiday (trust me, this has helped me a lot). Then, once taking the shower, you can ask yourself these questions: How does the water feels on my skin? Does it feel cold, hot or warm? What else do I sense on my skin? Does it feel pleasant or safe? What does the shampoo smell like? Is the scent familiar or is it new and even exotic? What sensations do you experience in your scalp once I rub the shampoo? How does my body feel after I have turned off the shower?

5. Washing dishes mindfully

Washing dishes might not be the most pleasant routine. If you hate washing dishes, this actually might be a great thing to try. Many of us have the dishwasher at home, but you can try this with washing your kettles or whatever it is you are not washing in your dishwasher. Personally I have always liked washing dishes, especially during cold winter days, when my hand get cold very easily. It is the best feeling to wash some dishes with the warm water running to the cold hands.

How to do it: Here, what you can do is to concentrate what your hand are doing and sensing during this activity. From the very beginning, focus on the sensations when the water and dishwashing liquid reach your hands. Is the water warm, is it hot, does it feel pleasant or unpleasant? Then, bring your attention to the way your hands hold the dish. Keep on observing your sensations in your hands until you have washed the dish. Finally, observe what your hands feel like after having washed the dish.

So what do you think? Are you ready to challenge yourself? If you think all this sounds crazy or even stupid and you cannot see why we should not just keep going on the autopilot, I can tell that I thought the same before I started these practices myself. But I promise it will be worth trying. Try at least once one of the above practices. Then you will see, how you feel afterwards. At least for me, getting out of that autopilot every now and then has helped me connect with myself, made me more calm and relaxed and has raised my gratitude towards the little things and moments in life.

x Mari Susanna

3 responses to “Challenge Yourself – Mindful Daily Routines”

  1. […] This week, I have been able to relax my body much more easily and really focus on the practice. Even though being restless is totally fine, I think this week has led me to get so much more out of the daily practices. In addition to the actual meditation moments in form of body scan and sitting practice, I have tried to practice awareness in other moments as well. It is not always easy to remember, hat’s not easy, but I have tried to challenge myself with the tips I wrote in my previous post mindful daily routines. […]

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