Let’s face it; we are busier, more distracted, and more stressed than ever. It’s hard to stop and smell the roses.
Mindfulness may be the solution. It’s a state of non-judgmental awareness of the present moment that relaxes your nervous system. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), practising mindfulness for depression can improve your mental wellbeing. It also has a range of benefits for your physical health.
We’ve compiled a list of 14 mindfulness activities for adults (and kids). These mindfulness tips will add value to your life.
1. Notice your breathing
Slowing down and focusing on the breath is my favourite mindfulness tip.
Start by observing the rhythm and depth of your breath.
Are you breathing into your belly or chest?
Are you breathing rapidly?
How does the air feel flowing in and out of your nose?
If you want to deepen the experience, try this simple coherence breath:
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of four
- Breathe out through your mouth for a count of four
- Repeat for a few minutes, bringing your mind back to your breath when it wanders
2. Spend time in nature
Spending time in the garden, park, forest, or beach helps you leave your stress (and your phone) behind and clear your mind.
You can make this more mindful by noticing the bird sounds, feeling the sun on your skin and the breeze on your face, and scanning the environment to take in the beauty.
3. Exercise mindfully
Exercise can double as a mindfulness practice, especially exercises like yoga therapy, walking, hiking, tai-chi, and Pilates.
Pay attention to how your body feels as you move, the change in your breathing, and any sensations that come up. This helps you tune into your body and identify if you’re pushing yourself too hard.
4. Focus on your food
If you rush through your meals while watching TV or scrolling social media, you’re probably not enjoying (or digesting) your food well.
Mindful eating involves eating slowly and paying attention to the texture, taste, temperature, and aroma of the food. It signals to your brain that you’re relaxed and ready to digest. Plus, it may also reduce overeating as you’ll be more aware when you feel full.
You can also practice mindfulness when cooking by observing the shapes and colours of the ingredients as you carefully prepare the food.
5. Keep a gratitude journal
Our brains are always scanning the environment for danger. If left to its own devices, your brain points out the negative things more than the positives.
However, you can rewire your brain to notice the good by actively cultivating gratitude.
Create a daily gratitude ritual by listing 5 things you love about your life every morning when you wake and every evening before bed. This helps you see the world in a softer light and appreciate the little things.
You can also take gratitude pauses when you need to come into the present moment.
6. Diffuse essential oils
Using aromatherapy essential oils to stimulate your sense of smell is one of the best mindfulness “hacks.” It brings you into the present moment and stimulates positive emotions.
Try this energizing blend:
- 2 drops of grapefruit oil
- 2 drops of bergamot oil
- 2 drops of peppermint oil
Add this blend to a teaspoon of carrier oil and gently massage your feet, shoulders, and neck as you take mindful breaths.
I’ve used this trick many times to snap myself out of anxiety.
7. Observe your environment
Nowadays, it’s common for people to spend most of the day staring at screens. Sadly, this strains your eyes and puts your nervous system into “fight or flight.”
Practice mindfulness by letting your eyes scan the environment every 20 minutes, taking in all the details and focusing on things at different distances. This not only rests your eye muscles but also helps you to get out of the “autopilot” mode.
8. Do a body scan
A body scan is a mindfulness meditation that helps you tune into your body sensations without judgement. Plus, it’s relaxing.
- Put your phone on aeroplane mode
- Close your eyes and bring your attention to your body
- Start from the top of your head and scan through each area of your body slowly
- Notice any sensations or feelings that arise without judgment
- Breathe into areas of tension and try to relax them
This is also a practice you can do when driving or sitting in a meeting (but don’t close your eyes in those situations).
9. Ditch multitasking
Your brain can’t focus on multiple things at one time. It ruins your concentration and increases the likelihood of making mistakes.
Instead, focus on one thing at a time, giving all your attention to that task. This helps to increase your productivity and get you into a “flow state.”
10. Ground yourself
Getting in touch with the earth is a mindfulness technique that helps reduce inflammation, anxiety, and insomnia. It’s also a great way to get into nature.
Take off your shoes and place your bare feet on grass, soil, sand, or a stone surface. Focus on how your feet feel against the ground. You can also visualise energy coming up through the earth into your feet and travelling through your body.
11. Limit time on social media
Social media has its benefits, but most of the time you spend scrolling mindlessly is wasted time.
I suggest deleting social media apps off your smartphone and only checking them when you’re on your computer or laptop. This will drastically reduce your daily screen time.
You can also create a “digital curfew” by turning off all digital devices 1-2 hours before bed. Instead, engage with your family, read a book, have a bath, or meditate.
12. Turn tea into a ritual
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
Slow down and immerse yourself in the sights, smells, and sounds of making a fresh pot of tea. Notice how the teacup feels in your hand and how each sip warms your body from the inside. Gently bring your mind back to the tea when it wanders.
This practice is ideal for Brits who love a cup of tea!
13. Practice self-compassion
Mindfulness techniques can be difficult to implement when things don’t go according to plan. That’s why self-compassion is a crucial part of mindfulness.
Try to check in with yourself during the day, observing your emotions and thoughts. Give yourself a mental (or physical) hug if you need it.
14. Take a mindfulness course with mindfulness therapist
If you want to dive deeper into mindfulness, a mindfulness-based stress reduction course can help you understand the science behind the practice.
Mindfulness training courses are available online or in-person and are suitable for beginners and those already seasoned in mindfulness techniques.
Our site allows you to find a mindfulness therapist.
The goal of mindfulness is to stop rushing through each moment and become more at ease with your feelings and experiences. It can reduce stress and anxiety and bring more joy to your life. After all, now is the only moment we have.
However, the keyword here is practice. Mindfulness for health is a skill like any other, which gets easier with regular practice.
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