Applying Mindfulness To Household Cleaning

Posted in Guest Posts

    Guest Post by Kathryn Holler (Author of Clutter-free Me)

    I’ve always thought that there is not enough emphasis on how good it makes you feel when your home is clean and organized.  In fact, studies have shown that just having a clean house can lead to lower levels of anxiety and a better sense of feeling rested.  However, the process of cleaning and organizing one’s dwelling is often given a negative association- it’s a chore, or an obligation, something that HAS to get done, but might not be exactly how you WANT to spend your time.   But what if you could shift your mindset, and put a positive spin on an otherwise tedious task? By harnessing the power of mindfulness into your everyday routine, the whole process of cleaning can be turned into an experience that’s not only fulfilling, but also rewarding. In taking a radical and thoughtful approach to tasks that seem mundane, you may be surprised at how satisfying and inspiring the process can be.  

    By employing the powers of mindfulness and meditation, it is possible to successfully shift your mood and feel motivated to get the job done, even if it’s just a job around the house, something most people would consider to be a chore.  Let’s explore more how mindfulness can be applied to the cleaning process.

    First off, what is mindfulness? 

    Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and engaged in the moment, without judgment of yourself or others. It involves observing your thoughts, feelings, surroundings, and becoming more aware of what’s happening around you. It’s not about getting rid of thoughts or feelings, but rather acknowledging them without getting carried away or distracted.

    Mindfulness can help us slow down, appreciate the world around us, and make more focused decisions. Mindfulness practice can also improve our ability to handle anxiety and reduce stress levels. We can apply mindfulness to our daily routines, including household cleaning, to make our household chores more meaningful and enjoyable, and I’m going to show you how in 10 easy steps.

    How mindfulness can be applied to household cleaning and chores:

    1. Establish a routine:

    Establishing a cleaning routine can help you organize your cleaning tasks and achieve a sense of structure in your everyday life. By having a fixed schedule, you can manage your time more efficiently, reduce clutter around the house, and know exactly what and when something needs to be done. A routine can also help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by a seemingly never-ending list of tasks.

    1. Set the right environment:

    The environment you clean in can impact your cleaning experience. Set a comfortable temperature in the room, play some soothing music, light a candle, and let natural light flow into the space. Wear practical and comfortable clothing, especially when digging into more serious messes, so you are unconcerned about damage or staining. When your cleaning space is well-lit, airy, and comfortable, it can help you feel more relaxed.

    1. Get rid of distractions:

    Distractions, such as your phone or TV, can compromise your ability to focus on your cleaning tasks. Create a space that’s free from distractions by turning off or muting your phone, closing the door, and fully dedicating yourself to the work at hand. This will help you concentrate, stay present in the moment, and avoid getting lost in your thoughts, or even worse, your devices.  If you find this difficult, invest in a timer.  Start with short increments of really focused work, and then eventually work your way up to longer stretches. 

    1. Engage your senses:

    Engaging your senses while you clean can help you stay focused and aware of the present moment. Pay attention to the sounds, smells, and textures of your surroundings while you clean. For example, listen to the sound of the water as it runs in the sink, feel the texture of the cloth in your hands or the warmth of the water on your skin, and smell the fragrance of the soap in the bucket. This will help you tune into your surroundings and immerse yourself in the moment.

    1. Focus on the task at hand:

    Once you’ve eliminated distractions and set the right environment, focus on the task at hand. By concentrating on one task at a time, you can complete each task more efficiently and avoid getting overwhelmed. Start with smaller tasks and gradually move on to more complex ones as you become more comfortable with the process. If you are visually motivated, keep a list of individual tasks, and feel fulfillment every time you can cross something off. 

    1. Use cleaning products that make you happy:

    Find cleaning products that evoke positive feelings in you. Pleasantly scented cleaning products or products that remind you of happy memories can make the cleaning task more enjoyable.  If you like and believe in the cleansers and materials you are using, you are more apt to want to use them.  Set yourself up for success by having the tools and resources you need for the task at hand.  

    1. Show gratitude:

    Cleaning is often viewed as a chore. Show gratitude and take a moment to appreciate the items you are cleaning and their role in your life. For example, instead of dreading a pile of dirty dishes leftover from a family dinner, appreciate the role those dishes played in nurturing your loved ones.  Recognize the value of each item and how it contributes to your well-being. Take time to notice the improvement in your environment after cleaning and acknowledge the effort you put into it.

    1. Be gentle on yourself:

    Perfectionism can be a significant source of stress when it comes to cleaning. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, acknowledge that mistakes happen, and use them as opportunities to learn and grow. Remember that progress is better than perfection, and practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it definitely makes progress!

    1. Practice self-compassion:

    Self-compassion is the practice of being kind, gentle, and non-judgmental towards yourself. It involves treating yourself with the same caring concern as you would a close friend. When you practice self-compassion, you can eliminate negative self-talk, reducing stress and promoting a sense of well-being.

    1. Incorporate meditation

    Take a few moments before each task to visualize the progress you want to achieve.  Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and think about the service you are doing for yourself, your family, your clients, etc. Start the job with a positive mindset and intention and end the job with a reflection of how much you have accomplished or achieved. 

    In conclusion, mindfulness is a practice that can be applied to all areas of life, including household cleaning. By embracing a cleaning routine, setting the right environment, eliminating distractions, engaging all your senses, focusing on the task at hand, and using cleaning products that bring you joy, it is possible to find more fulfillment in what is usually seen as an obligation.  When you show gratitude, practice self-compassion, and let go of perfectionism, you’ll find that cleaning can become a mindful experience and will benefit your overall well-being.

    For more information and task-specific meditations, pick up a copy of my book, Clutter-free Me- Meditations on Making Space and Finding Pleasure in Everyday Housekeeping, available exclusively on Amazon.  Included below is a sample of one of the task-specific meditations available.

    Meditation on Sweeping the Floor

    Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, feeling the air as it enters and leaves your body. Let go of any worries, anxieties, and stresses that have been weighing on you, and take this moment to relax and be at peace.

    Visualize yourself standing inside a beautiful garden. The grass is thick and green, flowers are in bloom, and there is a cool breeze blowing through the trees. Let your body relax and feel the beauty that surrounds you.

    Now, focus your attention on the task at hand. Imagine taking a broom and sweeping the leaves and dirt off the ground. Notice the satisfaction that comes with this simple task. Notice the feeling of accomplishment knowing that you are helping create a tranquil space.

    As you continue to sweep, begin to think of this sweeping as a metaphor. Visualize the different areas of your life that are covered in dust and dirt and think of how it might feel to clean these areas up. Notice the relief you feel as each layer of dirt is cleared away.

    Notice the joy and the feeling of accomplishment that come with these tiny victories. Feel the energy being released as you clean up your life and create that same tranquil feeling that is present in the garden you are visualizing.

    The world is ever-changing and it’s up to you to create your own space of peace and calm. Spend a few more minutes in this beautiful garden and allow yourself to be filled with appreciation for life. When you are ready, open your eyes and be ready to take that same motivation to sweep your floor and use it to sweep away any dirt or cobwebs in your life.