Mindfulness gives us the power to pay attention to how we’re feeling and what we’re thinking without judging whether those thoughts or feelings are right or wrong. It allows us to fully experience life as we’re living it and remain present, yet motivated.
You might be wondering what the best mindfulness activities are, and how can you incorporate them into your life. Keep reading to learn about our 7 favorite mindfulness activities.
Mindfulness is an important practice that can improve many areas of our lives including relieving stress, addressing symptoms of disease, improving sleep, and much more. Consider these powerful statistics about how mindfulness can positively affect our lives:
- According to a 2013 Massachusetts General Hospital study, 93 individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder who were randomly assigned to an 8-week group intervention with mindfulness-based stress reduction had a significant reduction in their anxiety symptoms.
- The National Center for Biotechnology Information found that mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder 73 percent of the time.
- A study published in Psychological Science found that, “cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide-reaching consequences.”
And that’s just a small glimpse at the power of mindfulness!
If you haven’t practiced mindfulness before, it can be intimidating. The good news is that while most people associate mindfulness with meditation (and while the two are very similar, meditation is a process that is equally beneficial but does take a lot of practice), we already have all the tools we need to implement mindfulness activities in our lives.
First of all, let’s cover what mindfulness is. Being mindful simply means that you pay attention to what’s happening around you, what you’re doing, and the space that you’re moving through in the world. In a nutshell, mindfulness means being fully present and not distracted by other things going on around you.
If this isn’t something you already do regularly, you can teach yourself mindfulness! You simply need to learn some small steps you can take that will help you cultivate mindfulness in any situation.
We’ve created a list of 7 of our favorite activities that will help you learn the art of mindfulness. Best of all, they’re simple and won’t take much time out of your day.
Our 7 Favorite Mindfulness Activities
1. Stretch. Stretch your arms and legs slowly, for 10 seconds each. Notice how it feels to move your muscles, notice any tightness, and enjoy the feeling. You may even want to find an easy yoga routine to do each morning.
2. Deep breathing. You’ve probably seen advice about deep breathing before, but that’s because it works! If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, deep breathing works to calm your nerves, but it also works to help you become aware of what’s going on around you. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, letting them out slowly. Breathe in through your nose, listening and feeling your breath moving in and out. Focus only on the breathing. If your mind starts wandering (and it probably will) just gently bring your attention back to your breath. Start by doing this for one minute, and extend your time as you practice.
3. Chew slowly. Yes, we’re serious! Eating is something we often do too quickly, but it’s a good chance to connect with our body and enjoy what’s happening in the moment. Chew slowly, savoring the taste of your food and appreciating how you’re fueling your body. Not only is this better for your digestion, but you’ll also enjoy your meals and be more present at meals with friends and family.
4. Scan your body. Sometimes we don’t really pay attention to our bodies until we’re alerted that something’s wrong. Completing a body scan will help you tune in to how you feel and what’s going on with your body. Try this 30-minute guided body scan exercise by Jon Kabat Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
5. Choose an affirmation. Affirmations have the power to change our thinking. Choose an affirmation that you can repeat to yourself that speaks to something you want for your life. Here’s a list of examples:
I do not give up.
I am strong.
I know and accept myself.
I appreciate my life.
I treat others with respect and strive to be a good friend (or parent or partner).
I am grateful for this moment and take in what the world is offering me.
6. Coloring. Yes, we said coloring! Even if you don’t have kids to color with, there’s a reason adult coloring books have boomed in popularity lately. Coloring can be a calming activity where you can either let your mind wander or focus in on what you’re doing. It also allows you to exercise the part of the brain that improves focus and concentration.
7. Get outside. Being outdoors gives you a ton of possibilities to take in stimulus around you. Take a walk or simply find somewhere comfortable to sit. Focus on everything around you—what you’re feeling, smelling, hearing. Appreciate the sun on your face or the wind or the sound of the birds.
If you’re ready to learn more about how graduates from Health Coach Institute use mindfulness (and a ton of other amazing techniques!) to help clients achieve real transformation in their lives, contact one of our Clarity Coaches today.