Over the past year, we have all found ourselves spending more time at home. Instead of a sanctuary from our hectic schedules, home became the center of our lives — the place where our families lived, worked, went to school, ate every meal, and received every delivery package. As the clearly defined separation between the work or school day and home life disappears, it can become more difficult to remember to set aside time for meditation and mindfulness.
After all, after a long day of Zoom calls, helping the kids with classwork, and making three meals for a family stuck at home, who wants to clean the bathroom and tackle a sink full of dishes? Just thinking about cleaning, organizing, and finding time for ourselves can, simply put, feel overwhelming.
Adopting a few simple mindful cleaning practices can provide a way to both keep clutter and mess at bay while also adding a meditative element to your daily life — a great way to manage stress, increase focus, boost your mood, and take care of yourself inside and out.
Why Cleaning Is a Perfect Practice for Mindfulness
With a simple adjustment in mindset, it is possible to transform that unmade bed, pile of dirty laundry, and unvacuumed rug from yet another stressful chore to a moment of respite and rejuvenation.
We usually think of cleaning and organizing as boring, repetitive, physical chores that we “get through” before we can relax. But the very nature of these tasks makes them excellent subjects for practicing mindfulness, letting you focus on the little things and really appreciate each second. Studies have connected increased mindfulness with a variety of positive health benefits, and there are many ways to bring greater mindfulness into your day-to-day life.
Next time you get to work on your routine cleaning checklist, instead of racing to get through them or putting on a podcast to distract from the drudgery try these seven tips that will turn cleaning into a more mindful practice:
1.) Slow Down
The greatest benefit of practicing mindfulness practice is gaining time to focus on the moment. While it might be tempting to rush through cleaning tasks and move on to the next thing, by simply slowing down, we can bring our focus to the present moment and even enjoy the respite these tasks provide. Treat cleaning like any other meditation practice: set aside dedicated time for each task, and resist the urge to hurry.
Rushing through tasks heightens anxiety — our minds are constantly in the future, worrying about whether there will be time for the next activity, or the one after that. By thinking about the next thing we have to do, we don’t focus on what we are currently doing — and, as a result, it often winds up taking longer, or just feeling plain unpleasant.
By simply acknowledging that the task we are doing will take time, and focusing all of our attention on it for the duration, you can not only make the task itself more pleasant, but you may be finished before you know it!
Setting aside time to clean also helps prevent procrastination. If cleaning is part of a regular daily schedule, you’re more likely to do it every day, rather than putting things off until the pile of laundry has totally consumed the bedroom and tackling the mess feels like an overwhelming chore. Making time to do something small every day, and then focusing completely on the task at hand, is an excellent way to bring a meditative element into your regular cleaning practice.
2.) Avoid Distractions
Rather than turning on a podcast or conversing with someone in another room while you’re cleaning, allow yourself to bring all of your focus to the present moment.
Quiet, calming music or a guided meditation can help drown out other noise and keep your focus on the task at hand. While doing dishes, for example, notice the temperature of the water and the sensation of water running through your fingers. Feel the texture of the brush or sponge, and notice the shape, color, and texture of each plate, knife, and fork. Watch as each crumb is wiped off of a dirty plate, and observe the symmetry of clean dishes stacked in a drying rack. Bring your attention to the rhythm of your breath as you move back and forth.
While it may be tempting to “zone out,” or plan your next task, keeping your focus on the present moment creates infinite opportunities to notice the beauty around you. Adding a mantra, or a repeated word (such as “peace”) while cleaning can be a helpful reminder to bring your focus back to the work in front of you when distraction and anxiety creep in.
3.) Keep Your Focus On Where You Are
The essence of a mindfulness or meditation practice is observation. Take the opportunity to be mindful of your own breathing as you clean, and check in with your body to notice whether your back, shoulders, or jaw muscles are carrying tension. Focus on the sensations in your body, clenching and relaxing individual muscle groups as you work.
Also, take the opportunity to notice the things in your environment. For example, while vacuuming a room, watch the way the vacuum creates a pattern in the carpet. Feel the carpet under your feet, listen to the sound of the vacuum, and spend a moment observing each object in the room in turn. As you look at each object, notice its texture. Ask yourself what color it is, how it feels. What shadows are created by the object in the room? Cultivating an awareness of the objects in your environment can help you avoid distraction and maintain focus – improving your productivity while also calming your mind!
4.) Take Pleasure in Each Step
Even the most seemingly monumental cleaning chore can be broken down into a series of tiny victories. Folding laundry? Notice the texture of the fabric, and take pride in the crispness and evenness of the folds. Be aware of the way your hands and arms work to create beautiful, organized stacks of clean laundry out of a chaotic pile. Take pleasure in the way folded shirts look in a drawer, or in creating a beautiful, color-coded closet. Notice the scent of your detergent, and the feeling of the clean clothes in your hands. Enjoying the process of cleaning not only takes the drudgery out of the work, it results in a more beautiful final product.
5.) Be Intentional in Choosing Cleaning Products
Prioritize your tools, especially when it comes to tasks you’re dreading. Seek out cleaning products you feel good about using. This seems like a small tip, but using products with scents or textures you find relaxing can turn a task into a welcome respite from the day. Lavender, in particular, has calming properties that can make a freshly cleaned bathroom feel like an oasis.
Using green, sustainable products can be another small way to make a big difference in your attitude toward cleaning. Knowing you are using products that are friendly to your family, pets, and the environment can bring a sense of satisfaction to every cleaning project.
Finally, focus on the feel and functionality of your cleaning products. You’ll feel a million times better about sweeping the back deck if you have a broom that sweeps easily and feels good in your hands rather than one that requires you to struggle. Similarly, you’ll feel more ready to clean when you can open up your pantry to reveal a tidy, minimalist cleaning caddy full of your favorite products — not messy, half-full bottles of solutions that won’t get the job done.
By now, we’re all familiar with Marie Kondo’s kon-mari system of organization. Fortunately, you don’t need to commit to spending a whole afternoon emptying out your closets to be well on your way to a zen, clutter-free space.
In fact, taking on small, frequent decluttering projects is an excellent way to practice mindfulness in a way that won’t leave you feeling too overwhelmed or exhausted to make any more decisions.
Pick a small area — a desk, a drawer, a shelf — and commit to organizing and decluttering that space. Then, move onto another area. Broaden your sphere bit by bit. Over time, the results of this small, regular practice add up to a clutter-free space — which science says can help promote a calmer, healthier outlook.
7.) Practice Gratitude
Above all, use your meditation practice as an opportunity for gratitude. The most rewarding thing about any cleaning project is that it provides instant results: something that was dirty, or messy, is now clean and organized. Take a moment to be grateful for your space, the items you’ve washed and organized, and the order you’ve created out of chaos.
Ready to Experience the Benefits of a Clean Home for Yourself? That’s Where We Come In
You deserve a space that empowers you to be your best. Where your troubles and worries can simply melt away. Where you have more time to spend on the things you love.
We’re here to deliver the clean, rejuvenating home you’ve always dreamed about. At Sweeping Dimensions, we always make a sweeping effort to make life less stressful. We’ll take care of the dirty work, so you can focus on making the most of your time at home.
With a professionally trained and uniformed staff, all of our cleanings are fully customizable to meet your unique needs. We bring all of the cleaning supplies and equipment needed to clean your home, with a focus on green, environmentally sound cleaning products.
At Sweeping Dimensions, we know that the more people we can bring together in our mission for a greener world, the better off all of us will be! So, if you ever have a question about comparing cleaning products, or making a green switch in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch – I am always happy to talk shop! At SDCS, we are sincerely passionate about these issues, dedicated to finding truly earth-friendly solutions, and always eager to keep the conversation going.
Want to set up a green cleaning for your Chicago home? Don’t hesitate to reach out for your FREE service estimate!