Living our lives to the fullest begins with what is already here. Staying engaged and curious can transform even routine activities. Learn how now.Have you ever felt that sometimes we go through our lives instead of living them to the fullest? Today it is common to live surrounded by distractions that make staying engaged hard, forcing us instead to continually move on to the next thing and overlook present experiences. Staying mindful and finding pleasure and fulfilment in everyday things can make a considerable contribution to your overall happiness, so below we have listed seven ways of turning routine tasks into enriching daily activities. Read on if you’re ready to increase your awareness, boost your connection with own emotions, and improve your chances of staying engaged throughout the day.
1. Start-of-the-day Ritual
Cultivating enriching daily activities as soon as you start your day is crucial to your levels of engagement and well-being. Instead of waking up and getting on with your day on auto-pilot, why not create a ritual that increases your chances of staying engaged?
As you wake up, do some gentle stretching and notice your body getting ready for a new day. Acknowledge your gratefulness for a good night’s rest that allows you to tackle whatever lies ahead. As you wait for your tea and coffee to be ready, take a minute or two to check in with yourself. Pay attention to physical sensations: is your body tense or relaxed? How are your energy levels? Are you hungry or thirsty? Mornings are the perfect time to incorporate other mindful practices such as mindful eating or showering, which are described further down in this article.
2. Mindful Showering
Showering is a peaceful way of starting or ending the day, as it allows you to gain an appreciation for your body and to be grateful for having the opportunity to look after yourself. As you stand under the water, do a “body scan” from head to toes and take note of your feelings. The warm water, the aroma of your favourite shower gel, and a gentle massage are treats to the senses that would be a pity to overlook. Taking note of these micro-moments can help you stay anchored in the present and counter the go-go-go mindset. In the shower, it is easier to realise when your mind wanders into the past or future. Realize when you are not in the shower while taking a shower and gently bring the mind back.
3. Gratitude Walks and Walking Meditation
Having a busy life doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy the benefits of meditation. Simply walking and noticing all those things you have reasons to be grateful for is a way of staying engaged with the most meaningful aspects of your life. For example, you can notice your legs and feet taking you forward, a ray of sunshine helping support life all around you, the different colours of objects or plants bringing variety and making life more interesting.
To practice walking meditation, find a space where you can walk undisturbed and start walking while focusing on each movement. Lifting a foot, putting it in front of the other, placing your feet on the ground, noticing how your body weight shifts as you walk, listening to your breathing, etc. This can help slow down your mind and sharpen your self-awareness.
As if that wasn’t enough, walking itself is a beneficial physical activity that can help maintain a healthy weight and decrease stress. Moreover, some scientific studies have found that walking can strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. And as you probably know, a healthy body feeds a healthy mind, and vice versa!
4. Mindful Driving
The daily commute can be a source of frustration and other negative emotions, but using mindful techniques can turn this routine into one of those enriching daily activities that increase your awareness.
Before you start the engine, take a few moments to breathe deeply and state your intention to drive mindfully. You should also ensure your car is a distraction-free environment and something like a “cocoon” that protects you from the noise outside, so put your phone on silent and don’t switch the radio on. While driving, there will be situations that cause anger or anxiety, but all you need to do is acknowledge your feelings – remember that you have a choice not to let those negative emotions take over. Drive paying attention to your surroundings, try to see the streets as if it was the first time you were driving along them, and take every interruption (traffic lights, traffic jams, etc.) as a chance to check in with your sensory perceptions.
5. Mindful Eating
We all have to eat, but our busy schedules often make us rush through our meals leading to all sorts of ailments, from poor digestion to weight gain.
Try the raisin mindful eating exercise
- Grab a raisin and hold it in your hands, imagining you’ve never seen one before.
- Use all your 5 senses to examine it.
- Look at its every detail: colors, structure, shiny or dull, can you see through?
- Touch it with closed eyes.
- Try to hear if it makes a sound if you squeeze it.
- Smell it. See if it smells differently depending on which nostril you use.
- Chew it slowly noticing its texture and flavour.
- Take note of the feelings and thoughts it generates.
This technique is a mindfulness-based stress reduction MBSR exercise aimed at improving your ability to focus on present experiences, increase attention levels, and boost enjoyment.
6. Mindful Appreciation
Staying engaged in the present and savouring everything life has to offer is hard when our appreciation is weak. To fix this, find four or five things (or people) that make your life easier or better. These could be small details like having drinking water flow as you open the tap or having a blanket to keep you warm and cosy when it gets cold. Make a mental note of those things, or even better, write them down while you ask yourself:
- What benefits does this bring to my life?
- What is special or unique about this thing / person?
- How would life be without them?
- How did they come to be?
Stopping to think about this will improve your appreciation for simple (and not-so-simple) everyday things and give you more reasons to feel blessed.
7. Staying Engaged With (Or Despite) Technology
Technology can be a constant source of distractions and interfere with mindful practices, so it’s important to set boundaries and know when and how to use it. Mindfulness-, meditation- and well-being-apps and podcasts with uplifting content show that technology and gadgets can be beneficial, but making mindful use of technology is also a matter of changing your habits.
For example, instead of reaching for your smartphone to take a picture of your food as soon as a plate is put in front of you, take some time to look at the food. Observe how it is presented, think about how it satisfies you, and about how much work has been put into making it reach your table. Likewise, instead of rushing to check your inbox every time a mail notification pops up on your screen, take a deep breath, pause, check in with yourself, and decide if it’s worth responding now or later.
Like all other positive emotions, everyday engagement has to be cultivated. Trying to incorporate mindfulness into daily tasks will bring you a collection of memorable thoughts and moments that enrich your life and make it more pleasurable. And ultimately, these enriching daily activities will allow you to live your life and not just go through it.