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Bring Mindfulness to Your Everyday Activities

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Updated February 24, 2010

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Mindfulness is about being completely in touch with the present moment and being open to experiences as they come. Mindfulness has been around for ages. However, mental health professionals are beginning to recognize that mindfulness can have many benefits for people suffering from difficulties such as anxiety and depression.

Practicing mindfulness can be an excellent way of coping with your PTSD symptoms. People with PTSD may sometimes feel as though they have a hard time getting any distance from unpleasant thoughts and memories. They may feel preoccupied with and distracted by these thoughts. As a result, many people with PTSD find that they have a hard time focusing their attention on what matters most in their life, such as relationships with family and friends or other activities that they used to enjoy.

Mindfulness may help people get back in touch with the present moment, as well as reduce the extent with which they feel controlled by unpleasant thoughts and memories. There are many ways of practicing mindfulness. There are exercises for being mindful of your breathing, sounds, thoughts, or your body in general.

Many of these exercises are practiced in a formal manner. That is, they are taught in such a way that people are instructed to put aside a set amount of time during their day so that these exercises can be practiced. Although formal practice is useful to become familiar with certain coping exercises, many people find that they do not have the time to formally practice mindfulness on a regular basis. All is not lost! No matter how busy you are, there are actually many opportunities to informally practice mindfulness during your day. Listed below are some ways that you can bring mindfulness into your everyday activities.

  • Practice mindful eating: We often eat "unmindfully," not paying attention to what or how much we're consuimg. Next time you eat a snack or meal, be mindful. Pay attention to all the sensations that are associated with eating, such as smell, sight, touch, taste, and sound. Be mindful with every bite you take. You can even be mindful of the sensations associated with swallowing your food.

  • Practice mindfulness while driving: Driving becomes a habit; however, there is a lot that goes into driving. Next time you go for a drive, be mindful of the sights around you, the radio playing, the noise your car makes as you accelerate or decelerate, the way the air conditioner or heater feels against your skin, or any other sensation associated with driving. There are a number of rich experiences associated with driving -- try to discover as many as you can through mindfulness.

  • Mindfully wash the dishes: Washing the dishes is a chore that many of us do not like, and oftentimes, we simply try to get it done as quickly as possible. However, washing the dishes is an excellent time to practice mindfulness. There are a number of experiences associated with washing the dishes that we can bring mindfulness to. For example, we can mindful of what each dish feels like in our hands, the temperature of the water against our skin, or the smell of the soap we are using. You might find that practicing mindfulness while you wash dishes completely changes that experience.

These are just a few ways in which we can easily practice mindfulness throughout our day. Here are some more everyday activities that can provide you with the opportunity to practice mindfulness: Taking a shower

  • Going for a walk
  • Exercising
  • Cooking
  • Listening to the radio
  • Watching the television
  • Drinking a cup of coffee
  • Waiting in line at the grocery store

    By bringing mindfulness to your everyday activities, you may be amazed at all the wonderful experiences that are out there that we often take for granted. Try to see what you can discover by informally practicing mindfulness.

    Source:

    Hanh, T. N. (1992). Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

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