4 Mindful Hacks for a Busy Lifestyle
When someone says they’re so busy and they don’t know how they’d fit mindfulness activities into their day, I genuinely hear that.
Because, listen, I know busy.
I am a single-mom, a business owner, and a millennial. (Let’s just keep it real, guys. We millennials keep it moving–haha!)
I’m busy, but I’m also lucky. I have an incredible support system, and people who love me and help me create time and space to take care of myself. But I also know how it feels to be carrying all of the weight on your shoulders. I have lived on that island, too, and I truly get how overwhelming it can be sometimes.
So I promise I’m not here to discount the amount of stuff you have on your plate. What I am here to do is share some tips from my personal toolbox—ways that you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily life without feeling like you’re just adding another “to do” to the looooong list.
I want you to feel empowered knowing that you can incorporate mindfulness into the schedule you already have, no heavy lifts required!
Strategy #1: Be Mindful in the Mundane
Time Commitment: As long as it takes.
What It Looks Like:
No one loooves washing the dishes, or folding laundry, or putting groceries away. But when you make this a mindful activity, it ain’t so bad. One day I was so sick and tired of washing dishes and the weight of single parenting was extra heavy on my shoulders. I was crying, I mean bawling my eyes out, over a pile of dishes in the sink. After letting those emotions flow I told myself, “Karen, you can not let these dishes get the best of you. Instead of dreading it, use this time to just relax your mind. The dishes have to get done, there’s no way around it, so at least try to make it a moment of peace– a break in your day.”
Ever since that day when I changed my attitude, I don’t dread doing the dishes. I use a delicious-smelling dish soap because our senses are directly tied to our enjoyment of an activity. I bring my attention to the warm water on my hands or the view out the window and just let my thoughts flow. And then, when the sink is spotless, my brain gets a boost of dopamine because it feels good to complete a task.
And it’s not just doing the dishes, we can turn anything that feels mundane into a mindful moment. Driving the kids around from activity to activity–listen to a favorite podcast or jam out to hits from the 90s for a shot of serotonin!
Folding a pile of socks–sit in a corner of the room with the most sunlight and get your Vitamin D while doing laundry.
Taking out the trash–that’s a great way to get some steps and enjoy fresh air!
See what I mean? These things have to get done anyway, so use them for your good. You just have to Stop looking at it as a burden and Shift to seeing it as a much needed break in your busy day.
Strategy #2: Savor the Moment
Time Commitment: As long as you need.
What It Looks Like:
Honestly, this strategy is the holy grail of making mindfulness a part of your daily life because it requires nothing extra from your schedule. Savoring the moment is about sinking in and enjoying the life you’re already living—holding on to the moments that can just pass you by when your attention is somewhere else.
What it looks like can vary from moment to moment.
It could be taking an extra 10 seconds to notice the gorgeousness of your cup of coffee—the weight of the mug in your hand, the feeling of the steam on your face, the amazing smell, the way it warms your belly as you drink it.
It could be hearing your favorite song playing on the radio as you drive to work and just belting that bad boy out and dancing in your seat with a big smile on your face.
It could be getting an email about something you did well at work and giving yourself a minute to read it again (heck, read it 3 or 4 times if you want!), lean into that feeling of pride, and pat yourself on the back.
It could be taking 20 minutes to be fully present at dinner with your family—putting your phone away, enjoying the taste of your food, asking questions about everyone’s day and really listening to their answers.
Savoring the moment is really just living your life, but consciously reminding yourself to cherish the present moment and allowing our minds to capture and hold on to the good ones.
Strategy #3: Find a Feel-Good Activity
Time Commitment: Ideally 30 minutes—but even 5 minutes a day can help you refresh!
What It Looks Like:
Finding a feel-good activity is really just about taking the time to say yes to yourself each day. If you’re an adult in the world, chances are good that most of your days are filled with taking care of other people’s needs—your kids, your spouse, your employer…
Finding moments to focus on what you need, what you love, and what makes you feel good is what’s going to fill your cup so that you can come through on all of those other responsibilities.
And liiiiistennnn, I know how easy this is to put off. We tell a lot of stories to convince ourselves that we don’t need to do this every day:
“Over the weekend, I’m going to take a long nap.”
“Once this big project is finished, I’m going to take an afternoon off and get a massage.”
“When we go on vacation next month, I’m going to spend the whole time reading by the pool.”
But the truth is, if we’re not touching base with our own needs on a regular basis, all the weekend naps and twice-a-year massages and yearly vacations aren’t going to be enough to help us manage the stress of our everyday lives.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret… This doesn’t always involve adding anything extra to your schedule–it might just take reframing your mindset. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that we’ve purposely built stuff into our daily routines, not to create an extra chore but to honor our own needs.
Remind yourself that when you take that walk over your lunch break, it’s not because you need to burn off the calories you ate over the weekend. You do it because you know breathing fresh air will make you smile.
Remind yourself that you’re not painting your nails to look fancy for the rest of the world but because seeing that funky color on your fingertips every day will bring you joy.
Remind yourself that you’re watching your favorite show because it will give you a good laugh, not because you need to clear out your Netflix queue. (And pro tip: put down that phone and actually watch it!)
Then dig in and let those endorphins flow!
Strategy #4: Meditation on the Move
Time Commitment: 5-minute chunks of time, whenever you have the chance.
What It Looks Like:
Meditation is just one path to mindfulness, but I think it’s one people dismiss too quickly because they think it requires a big commitment. I mean, don’t you need to clear your schedule, find a quiet space for that whole time, and completely check out?
Not at all!
Meditation doesn’t need to be a burden, and it doesn’t have to feel like one more thing to juggle! Short chunks of time incorporated into the flow of your day are just as beneficial as long, dedicated sessions, and the more you practice meditating in small bursts, the better able you’ll be to quickly shift into mindfulness in unexpected moments of chaos when you really need it!
Don’t have a quiet corner in your office? Go outside and sit in the sun between meetings.
Can’t find the space to roll out your yoga mat? Use your desk to help you get in some stretching. (Googling “desk stretches” will bring up a bazillion ideas to get you started!)
Not sure how to stay in a mindful state with people all around? Pop in your earbuds and turn on a guided meditation app. (I love InsightTimer—you can sort by topic and the amount of time you have available.)
And here’s a hard but loving truth, friend.
Sometimes it comes down to being really self-aware about where our time and focus is going. Step away from the news at the end of the day—those 10 minutes are better spent taking care of yourself. Stop scrolling IG during your lunch break—give your mind space to wander and to enjoy your meal. Turn off the push notifications on your phone—create an environment where your mind can stay in flow when you find it.
Whatever your schedule, you have time for these small acts of self-care. Whatever your responsibilities, this part of your day is absolutely necessary. You need and deserve it.