When we think of mindfulness we most often picture a person meditating. Though while the many, many benefits of meditation have been proven, sometimes fitting in an official session everyday can be a challenge.
That's when mindfulness can step in, namely 'informal mindfulness'.
"Informal mindfulness is when you approach everyday activities with a purposeful amount of self-awareness and curiosity," Dr Addie Wootten, clinical psychologist and CEO of Smiling Mind told HuffPost Australia. The mindfulness and meditation app just hit 2 million downloads, so Wootten knows her stuff.
"Trying to be more present when interacting with your loved ones at home is probably the most important thing you can do. We recommend removing distractions -- such as phones, TVs and computers -- and slowing down to listen deeply and give your full attention. It'll do great things for your mind and for your relationships this winter."
Aside from that, fitting in informal mindfulness into your busy day is easy if you piggyback it onto things you have to do anyway, like grooming and chores.
Think about how many minutes add up when you're showering, washing face, moisturising, brushing teeth and shaving.
"We all do things every day to maintain our health and hygiene. What you might not know is that we can choose to do these mindfully by slowing down and focusing on exactly what we're doing," Wootten said.
"For example, in the shower, rather than spending this time going through your to-do list for the day, slow down and actually just be in the shower. Notice the feel of the water on your skin, the temperature, the steam, the sound. If your mind wanders off into the future, just return your focus to what you can feel, see and hear in the shower."
If you're lucky enough to have a garden, tending to it can be a great time to be mindful.
"Mindfully tuning in to what you can see, feel, smell and hear in the garden is a beautiful informal mindfulness practice. From planting, to weeding, to pruning. If you're near flowers or using a hose to water your garden, notice what you're doing," Wootten said.
Cooking doesn't need to be a face paced two hour long stressful task like on Masterchef.
"When we cook mindfully, we take something that is always rushed into something new. Choose a relaxed time and setting, then use your senses to enjoy the shapes, fragrances and colours of your ingredients. Experience the changes in the spices as food is prepared, the way onions make you tear-up and even how you need to peel certain layers on food and not others."
Let's face it -- doing the dishes, cleaning and making the bed is boring. But you can make more of that time.
"Chores can become far less boring if we bring an open and curious attitude to them. Nobody likes chores! But next time you're washing up, notice the feel of soap suds against your skin, the sound of detergent bubbles, and the movement of soapy water can make washing the dishes an incredibly sensory, and hopefully enjoyable, experience," Wootten said.
Having a pet is very good for your health and can be good for your mind, too.
Pets help us live in the moment. Next time you're with your pet, why not take a few moments to pay attention to how their fur feels. Imagine that it's the first time you've ever patted them, or seen them and try and pay attention to what you notice.
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