HEALTHY LIVING
06/27/2014 08:22 am ET | Updated Jul 03, 2014

4 Household Chores That Can Make You More Mindful

Andrew Olney via Getty Images

We tend to think of completing tasks around the house as more of a nuisance than a beneficial exercise ("You have how many loads of laundry?!"). Yes, there are probably about a million more exciting things to do than cleaning and organizing. But if you approach it with a different outlook, that disheveled desk drawer could actually be your gateway to mindfulness. You don't need to go on a meditation retreat to create peace in your life: If you're looking to cultivate a little calm, try tackling the four household activities below. You'll have a happier brain (and, as a bonus, a happier house).

Doing the dishes.
washing dishes

No one likes doing the dishes, but it is possible to make it a mindful activity by focusing on little nuances that go into scrubbing your cookware spotless. As author and speaker Laurie Erdman points out in a HuffPost blog, the chore offers the tools you need to open yourself to a beneficial type of multitasking:

From the moment you start to stack the dishes to the moment you hang up the towel, notice every sensation. The sound of the water running, the sight of the bubbles, the smell of the dishwashing liquid, the sounds of the silverware hitting each other in the drainer, the feel of the dishes in your hands, the warmth of the water. Move slowly. Concentrate on the task, instead of your to do list.

Cooking a big meal.
cooking dinner

Mindful people create in any way that they can, including mixing it up with meals. Creativity in the kitchen allows you to get in a state of flow, concentrating on the task at hand (mostly because who wants burned Chicken Parm?). As the experts at Headspace point out, "Cooking provides a wonderful opportunity to be present, mindful and aware, as opposed to being distracted, stressed or overwhelmed ... It's also an opportunity to get back in touch with the food that you eat."

Organizing that junk drawer.
messy drawer

Studies have shown that clutter is a major source of stress when we're in our homes, so the best way to eliminate it is to mindfully tackle it head-on. Concentrate on the meticulous actions that go into deciding where each pen, notepad and paperclip is placed (and toss out those expired coupons). Your brain (and your drawer) will feel much lighter.

Making your bed when you wake up.
making bed

It takes about a minute, but your day and your mindfulness practice will benefit from pulling up those sheets. (Admit it: Just imagining your bed made sort of makes you feel like you have your life together). Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Real Happiness At Home, explains that making your bed -- while seemingly menial -- also allows you to focus for just a short period of time and set yourself up for zen. "[M]aking your bed is a step that's quick and easy, yet makes a big difference," she wrote in a happiness blog. "Everything looks neater. It's easier to find your shoes. Your bedroom is a more peaceful environment. For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm."

This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.

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