When I was pregnant, I had a hard time shutting my mind off before bed, so my therapist suggested I try something called mindful toothbrushing. I was well aware of mindfulness as a practice and all its benefits — I'd completed a mindfulness series as part of some CBT work I'd been doing to emotionally prepare myself for pregnancy — but never found that I could commit to doing it daily. But 30 seconds while I was brushing my teeth sounded easy enough to work into my bedtime routine. It ended up being a great thing for me.
Recently I decided to pick up mindful toothbrushing again. While I've always been good at finding time for fitness (thank you, jogging stroller!), after I put my toddler down for bed at night and have cleaned the kitchen and gone through everything else on my to-do list for the day, I was finding that it was not only becoming increasingly more difficult to shut my brain off for bed but that I just had no energy left to do anything positive for my mind.
So when a fancy new Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 ($110) landed on my desk at work, I decided it was time to reintroduce mindful toothbrushing into my life. Once again, it's been mood-altering.
The premise of it is simple. Rather than letting your mind wander off into the ether while brushing your teeth, you focus on every sensation the bristles cause while they swirl against your gums, teeth, and tongue. The easiest part about applying mindfulness to teeth cleaning as opposed to carving out some other block of time is that the pieces are already there for me: I'm alone, I'm in the bathroom, I already have a 30-second chunk of time blocked off for dental hygiene. All I have to do is pay attention to my mouth! And it's incredibly difficult to do, though I will say that having an electric toothbrush with three intensity settings makes it much easier to hone in on oral sensations.
If you're finding that you're just way too spent at the end of your day for even a mindfulness app, try mindful toothbrushing. You're already there in the bathroom — you just need to redirect your attention!