There are many activities that can help you be present in the moment and relieve stress.
The practice of mindfulness is gaining popularity as a way to ease stress, soothe anxiety, and be more present and engaged in life.
IncorporatingMindfulness activities into your routine can be very simple, no matter what your age.
Almost everything you do can become an opportunity for meditation, whether you are an adult, a teen, or a child.
There are many opportunities to slow down, get present, and be more aware of yourself in the below activities.
One of the most common and well-known mindfulness activities for adults is meditation. While it may seem esoteric or inaccessible, meditation can actually be very simple.
These exercises are meant to make you feel better.
Creating a gratitude list may help improve well-being and
Add at least 3 items to your list each day to build it into your schedule.
You can start your day with a gratitude list in the morning or list a few things that you are grateful for before you sleep.
Walking meditation is exactly what it sounds like: a form of meditation you practice while walking, often in a straight line or circle.
You can do it almost anywhere, whether you are walking to work, taking a stroll around the neighborhood, or hanging out with your kids at the park.
If you are driving a car, you can engage with the process by focusing on the weight of the vehicle underneath you, the texture of the road you are driving on, the sound of the tires against the gravel, and the shape and feel of the seat against your rear.
You can use your focus to see not only the vehicles, lights, and pedestrians, but also the terrain, foliage, and skyline. You may become a better driver with practice.
Keep your phone quiet, turn off the music, and save the makeup application.
“You probably guessed that single-tasking is not the same as multitasking. It doesn’t require much if you show up to whatever task you’re working on.”
If you’re working on the computer, focus on one task at a time. As much as you may not want to, close all the browser tabs that aren’t relevant to the project you’re working on. This can help free up mental space and might even create laser-focus.
To deepen the practice, focus on.
- How you are breathing.
- How your body feels in your seat, and how your feet feel if you are standing.
- The sensation of the air or clothes on your body.
- The structure and posture of your body.
Mindful eating is a way to turn something you do every day into a mindfulness practice.
You can make mealtimes more mindful with a few basic mindful eating practices, like listening to the sizzle of your pan and chewing slowly to savor every bite.
You might want to try other mindful eating tips.
- Try not to use yourdominant hand.
- The first few minutes of your meal should be spent focusing on the flavors, aromas, and texture of your food.
- Put your phone away while you eat.
Place your hand in the soil and feel it. Is it ok? Is it wet or dry? Is it warm or cold? Allow yourself to enjoy the process as if you were a child.
You can notice the weather through your sensations. Do you have a chill in the air or a hot sun on your face?
A squirrel or bird is chattering around you. You are likely to meet a worm or roly-poly in the soil.
The best way to introduce mindfulness to kids is to make it a game. That’s exactly what the activities below do.
Wiggle and freeze game
This game is a great way for kids to start practicing meditation and movement.
It involves moving around, shaking, and dancing until you say, “Freeze!” Encourage children to pay attention to their body sensations once everyone stops moving.
You can play music and pause when the game is over, if you wish.
Five sense scavenger hunt
This scavenger hunt is designed to encourage kids to be more aware of their surroundings.
You can provide a safe environment for exploration. The steps for kids are here.
- Listen. Name one thing that you hear when you listen with your ears.
- Look. Name one thing that catches your attention when you look around.
- Smell. Name a scent that you notice when you take a sniff with your nose.
- Touch. Name an object that you enjoy feeling with your hands.
If you want to add in the sense of taste, simply supply a few kid-friendly snacks, and ask kids to name flavors they enjoy, like sweet, salty, or sour.
Monkey see, monkey do
This game helps kids increase their body awareness and think about how they move in space. The adult should take on the role of the monkey and lead the kids through different positions.
Try to shift your weight in unexpected ways, like standing on one foot, getting on all fours, or sticking one foot up in the air.
“Ask the kids what it’s like to be in a certain position. Is it hard to balance, or does it give them a big stretch?”
Let it be silly. Kids will likely get laughing. Go with it. You can ask the kids to pay attention to how their breath changes when they laugh.
“Dragon breathing is a great way to get kids to practice. The simple version doesn’t require any supplies, but you can use a fun craft to drive the lesson home.”
To optimize the fun, you can read or make up a short story about dragons to get everyone’s imagination flowing. Some good options are “The Mindful Dragon,” “There’s a Dragon in Your Book,” and “Train Your Angry Dragon.”
- The kids should take a deep breath and fill their bellies and chests.
- They should be told to exhale with a long, slow exhale when they are ready.
- It can be fun to watch the paper blow as the kids breathe out if you have paper. They should hold it 6 inches away from their mouths and let go as they exhale.
For the crafty version of dragon breathing, check out the instructions and video tutorial on One Little Project at a Time.
Kids love bubbles, and they make for a great practice of being aware of their surroundings.
- Ask the children to think about what they are thinking. You can prompt them by saying that they want to eat lunch.
- Blow your bubbles and put your thoughts and feelings inside them. I feel nervous. I will put that feeling in a bubble and let it go.
- Point out how our thoughts and feelings are just like bubbles, when they come up and drift away. Sometimes they pop.
This exercise can be useful for kids who are having trouble letting go of their feelings.
Sometimes, having reminders can help kids practice. This is a basic craft that provides a tool to take with kids.
Help the kids reflect on activities that calm them, like drinking water, taking breaths, closing their eyes, and hugging a friend.
Then, ask them to draw pictures of the activities on cards. You can also provide them with printed pictures.
If the kids can write, have them label the cards (if not, you can label for them). Hole-punch the cards and bind them together with a bit of yarn or a book ring.
Kids can use the cards whenever they’re feeling upset, angry, scared, or sad to help them regulate their emotions and feel better.
You can make your own cards, or try this printable version from Babies to Bookworms.
More mindfulness resources for kids
“Sitting Still Like a Frog” is a book and CD full of simple mindfulness exercises for kids and their parents. The practices use creative, kid-friendly language to make mindfulness accessible to little ones. You can also find the audio online from the publisher.
GoZen is an educational gold mine of mindfulness resources. They offer programs, resources, printables, books, and more. They’re all designed to help kids regulate their emotions and navigate life.
Mightier is a biofeedback video game that teaches kids to use breathing to slow their heart rate and calm down. Kids play while wearing a heart rate monitor. When their heart rate goes up, the game gets more challenging. An on-screen character then prompts them to practice breathing to get their heart rate down.
Teens are a tough nut to crack, you might think. Many teens have interests that can help them accessMindfulness in a meaningful way
Music can be a great entry point into the world of mindfulness for teens.
“Teens need a space where they won’t be interrupted and their favorite music to practice. They want the music to be something they haven’t heard before. They work as well.”
They can choose a song that is reasonable. They might want to save the 15-minute guitar solo.
They can simply listen to the music. They can ask.
- How does it feel in my body when I listen?
- What sounds can I not hear before?
- How does my breath change when I listen to music?
Teens can get in their bodies and let loose with movement. It is another way to incorporateMindfulness that uses music, which may appeal to teens.
Calculating dance moves or appearance is not part of the process of smilng movement. It is simply a free-flowing interpretation of music.
There is no way to do this correctly. It is simply expressing how the music feels.
Group-based mindful dance
If you have a teen who’s into dance and movement, they may enjoy attending an Ecstatic Dance session.
Ecstatic Dance offers a safe space for people of all ages, including families, kids, and teens, to mindfully move together. Sessions are substance-free and silent, which means it’s a great place to explore movement safely and without the distractions that go with a typical public dance floor.
They have events that take place all over the world as well as online. Simply search for your location with the phrase “ecstatic dance” to find the closest event to you.
Another way to blend movement and meditation is with the Shaking.
- There are puzzles in the jigsaw.
- There are crosswords.
- “It’s called sudoku.”
- Word finds.
- The differences should be spot.
- There are riddles.
Teens may enjoy puzzles and not realize they are practicing a different type of meditation. They can ask to encourage reflection.
- What does it feel like when I get frustrated?
- How does my body respond when I solve a new puzzle? How does my heart rate change?
- How am I breathing differently when I play?
If stereotypes are to be believed, teens and apps go hand in hand. Luckily, there are a number of apps geared toward teens that teach mindfulness and meditation in a relatable way.
Aura is an app geared toward teens that sends 3-minute meditation reminders each day. It also includes a nature sounds meditation timer, gratitude journal, goals list, and an intelligent meditation personalization — all with Google calendar integration.
Stop, Breathe, and Think allows teens to chart their physical, mental, and emotional health while suggesting appropriate meditations. The app was designed with the idea that teens have a hard time transitioning straight from activities to meditation. The intermediate step of a check-in helps them recalibrate and settle into a more mindful state.
BetterSleep is a great choice for teens who love music. It allows users to mix their own sounds to use for mindfulness. The app also gives users the option to add meditations targeted for better sleep, more focus, or decreased anxiety.
Simple Habit offers meditations curated for specific situations, like getting ready for a test, commuting, taking a bath, and even soothing premenstrual syndrome. Tracks are 5 minutes long, making the practices easy to incorporate daily.
Body Scan meditation is a relaxing way to calm the mind and body. It involves using awareness to pay attention to sensations in your body.
To practice, you simply lie down, relax the body, and tune in to what you’re feeling. For full instructions, benefits, and tips, check out this article.
Tracking is a somatic experiencing technique that can help you feel grounded and present in the space you’re in. This is done by looking around the room and observing objects with mindfulness.
You can find full instructions here.
Box breathing is a technique that involves taking deep breaths. It is also known as four square breathing.
Acceptance and self-compassion
Anxiety can often involve resistance and fear toward the anxiety itself. One way to relax the hold anxiety has on you is to accept it. This can involve a simple reframing of anxiety as a strength rather than a shortcoming.
When you do so, you may also find that you can more easily let go of self-blame or shame around having anxiety in the first place.
“It doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Practice with others can be a powerful tool.”
Blindfolded movement is a way to relax and not look good. It can be done in a variety of ways, including blindfolded yoga or open-ended movement.
Participants move at a very slow pace. They can move in the other direction when they start to sense another person nearby or accidentally hurt an arm.
Eye gazing with a partner is a powerful way to connect and see what comes up when you engage in this intimate practice. All you need to do is sit facing each other, set a timer for 1 to 5 minutes, and stare into each other’s eyes.
You may find that you have strong emotions. If you are practicing in a group, you can switch partners after the first round and continue until everyone has practiced together.
You sit back to back with your spine lined up, and partner breathing is similar to eye gazing.
As you do so, you should be able to expand the breath into your belly and back. You should be in rhythm if you sync your breathing with your partner.
Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter yoga is a practice that focuses on fun.
For a full list of benefits and how to do it, read on here.
Sound healing and music therapy
If you loved making arts and crafts as a kid, you will benefit from art-basedMindfulness.
Coloring and doodling
Adult coloring books abound on store shelves these days, so it’s easy to pick one up and get coloring. You can even try Healthline’s very own mindful mandala.
Crafting can get you out of your head and into your body. It also offers the opportunity to work with your hands, tune in to your inner child, and engage with different shapes, colors, and textures.
According to research, art therapy can regulate mood and even addictive behaviors.
Being aware and having a full schedule are not exclusive. You can incorporateMindfulness into your life
Basic breathing is a simple meditation that uses the breath to settle the mind.
- Sit or lie down.
- Take a moment to observe your breath.
- Take a moment to observe your breath.
- When the mind wanders, focus on your breath.
That is it! To deepen the practice, focus on feeling.
- Your belly and chest are contracting.
- The warmth of your breath in your throat and nose.
- The sensation of your body against the floor.
It is best to practice at the same time each day. Start with a few minutes and work your way up.
Deep seeing exercise
“Deep seeing is a simple exercise that engages the sense of sight to tune in more deeply to your surroundings. You don’t need to do anything else to find an object that appeals to you. It can be anything, from a fruit bowl to a colorful scarf.”
“Use your sense of sight to get to that object. See the folds, colors, texture, size, and shape. You should observe the object until you notice something you didn’t notice before.”
You can fully immerse yourself in the process without looking at the clock if you set a timer for 3 to 5 minutes.
Deep listening exercise
The deep listening exercise is similar to deep seeing, but you use your sense of hearing. You can sit and listen.
Listen to close sounds. Then listen for sounds that are further away, like the hum of a fan or someone speaking. Listen for even more sounds, like cars or airplanes.
For 3 to 5 minutes, do this.
Anything you do in your day-to-day life can be related to the practice of meditation. It is not meant to be separate from reality, but to be an enriching part of it.
Try to be more present, calm, and connected with these activities.
Crystal Hoshaw is a mother, writer, and longtime yoga practitioner. She has taught in private studios, gyms, and in one-on-one settings in Los Angeles, Thailand, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares mindful strategies for self-care through online courses. You can find her on Instagram.