When we feel stressed out, sad, anxious, irritated, or angry, it is natural to want those feelings to disappear. It can be difficult to sit with uncomfortable emotions. We might try to drown them out with Netflix, work, exercise, or Oreos. Or maybe we try to blast out the blues with positive affirmations or pep talks in the mirror.
Our feelings can have a big impact on our physical and mental health. But sometimes, we try to ignore our feelings or push them away. This can make them stronger and hurt our health. A better way to deal with our feelings is to be mindful or aware of what is happening in the present moment.
Mindfulness can help us figure out which thoughts, words, and behaviors cause us suffering and which ones lead to freedom. We can then work on strengthening the good things and diminishing the bad ones. Once we know what makes us happy, we can be more mindful of each moment as it unfolds.
If you do mindfulness exercises regularly, you will eventually stop worrying about the past and future. Mindfulness can help you find happiness and joy in the present moment.
Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone, including kids, anywhere, at any time. This means you can learn how to get in touch with your emotions or teach your children mindfulness whenever possible. We asked experts for the best mindfulness activities you can do every day for a week. Pick a couple and try them out to see what you learn about your mental landscape.
The Name Game
This game is simpler than Eye Spy and can help stop your thoughts from going crazy.
You can hear three things in your environment: sound, voices, and music. There are two things you can see: objects and people. Finally, there is one sensation you can feel: the warmth of the sun on your skin.
Intention Setting Exercises
Before you start working, take a few minutes to relax. You can do some yoga to figure out what you need or read a positive book to set the tone for the day.
It can be hard to form your own morning practice if you are more of a night owl than an early bird. Don’t worry, though. You can find time in the afternoon or evening to settle your mind. All you need is 10 minutes, according to Eskandani.
Deep Breathing Exercise
When we’re feeling anxious, our breathing often becomes short and shallow. This is because we’re trying to take in less air to control the situation. However, deep breathing through the diaphragm can help us relax.
If you are new to deep breathing exercises, Eskandani suggests the four-count method. Inhale for four seconds, then exhale for four seconds. Repeat this five times.
The Wiggle and Freeze Game
Sarah Rudell Beach says this is a great activity with your kids. But if you want to have fun with your friends, go for it! Let yourself go.
You and your friend can play this game by wiggling, bouncing around, or dancing until one of you says, “Freeze!”
Beach recommends that people “freeze and take a moment to notice what they can feel in their body” to start a mindfulness practice. This could involve noticing movement, tingling, heat, shaking, or buzzing sensations. People can repeat this as many times as they like!
Candle Study Exercise
Light your favorite candle, sit comfortably, and watch the flame. “This is actually a form of meditation,” says Martinez. Gaze at the candle for five to 10 minutes and let your mind wander. Observe your thoughts without judgment.
Tea Drinking Exercise
If you love drinking tea daily, try drinking it a little bit slower. Pay attention to the sensations, smells, and sounds you observe from when you start brewing to when you finish your cup.
Randhawa recommends that you take the time to notice how it feels to make tea, what the tea leaves look like, what the kettle sounds like, and so on. Pay close attention to how you feel as you make and drink the tea. Notice when your mind wanders and gently bring it back to the present moment.
If you like coffee, you can do this practice similarly. In fact, you can bring this sort of mindfulness to any activity.
The Berry Challenge
When it comes to mealtime, many eat our food too quickly. We’re distracted by TV, phones, or computers. This can lead to overeating, indigestion, bloating, and gas. All of which can make us grumpy and irritable.
Here’s a challenge: eat a strawberry as slowly as possible. Martinez recommends aiming for 30 seconds to a minute. During that time, pay close attention to the strawberry’s taste, texture, and scent.
This can be done with any type of food. When you’re eating a meal, it can help you eat more slowly.
Gratitude List Exercise
Write five to ten things you are grateful for every morning and evening.
Eskandani says gratitude lists are the quickest way to ground yourself during difficult times. This is because they help you focus on what is working. The key is to be specific in your writing.
Follow Your Breath Exercise
This activity is a great way to relax. You can do it by yourself or with your child. You can also combine it with deep breathing exercises.
If you are doing this with your kid, ask them to breathe with you. Ask them: Can they feel their breath in their nose? In their chest or belly? Can they hear their breath?
“Your child can place their hand on their chest and feel how it moves up and down as they breathe,” Beach says. “I find it helpful to ask kids to count their breaths. For example, ‘Breathing in, one. Breathing out, two,’ and so on. After spending a few moments paying attention to breathing, ask your child how they feel — calm, tired, bored, relaxed, or something else. Let your child know that however they feel is okay! The point of mindfulness is not necessarily feeling a particular way, but simply paying attention to how we feel at any given moment.”
For many people, the word “meditation” can feel scary or intimidating. But instead of thinking about mastering meditation, think about practicing stillness.
This can be as simple as focusing on your breath, a mantra (if you have one you like), or an image. You can do this for any amount of time that you choose.
Don’t worry if you can’t focus the whole time. “Every time the mind wanders off, notice the activity and gently redirect the attention back toward the primary object.”
If you need a little more guidance, there are great meditation apps and videos on YouTube that can help you along. These resources can provide instructions on how to meditate and tips for staying focused during your practice.
The Chime Game
If you have a chime or bell, ring it and how long it takes for the sound to stop.
Martinez says that you can do this with your family or a group of friends. “Have each person raise their hand when they lose the sound. You might find that everyone’s hearing is different.”
If you don’t have a chime, you can use another musical instrument or find a sound on the internet.
Take some time to think about how you are feeling right now. Write down all of the emotions you are experiencing. Also, write down any thoughts that come to mind.
“When done with skill and proper guidance from an app or a teacher, this can help us understand ourselves better,” says Randhawa. “By asking ourselves ‘What do I feel?’ instead of ‘Why do I feel X?’ we develop a stronger curiosity about the self and our ongoing mental experience without falling into rumination.”
First thing when you wake up, get your journal and write down three pages of anything that comes to mind. It doesn’t have to be creative or beautiful. This is an exercise meant to clear your mind.
According to Martinez, “doing this exercise regularly can help you release and process what is happening mentally.”
The Sound Game
This is another game you can play with your kids. It’s very similar to “The Name Game,” except this time, ask them to listen carefully and identify 10 sounds they can hear.
You can ask people if they can hear sounds inside their body, the room, or the house. You might want to ask which sounds they notice more.
At Mindful Schools, they find that this is a helpful practice for children when they are feeling overwhelmed. It’s a powerful way to gently shift their attention from something frustrating to something more neutral, like sound.
Foot Grounding Exercise
When feeling anxious, try to put your feet flat on the floor. Breathe in for four seconds, then count out for four. Repeat this three to five times.
When you’re walking, pay attention to your feet. Notice how your weight shifts from the center of your foot to the ball of your foot with every step. Make sure to breathe steadily throughout this exercise.
Some experts believe walking barefoot in the grass can help reduce stress and improve blood flow, sleep, and vitality. However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits.
Read more: Mindful Movement for Physical Activity and Wellbeing
Frequently Asked Questions About Mindful Activity
Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening around you. You can be mindful of your breath and how it changes as you breathe in and out. Another example of mindfulness is paying attention to the food you are eating.
Start by focussing on breathing and bringing awareness to your actions, thinking, and sensing. Recognize the thoughts and emotions that arise, but allow them to pass. Recognize who you are and your current condition. Bring awareness to your breathing for six breaths or 90 seconds.
Mindful movement is when you focus on what your body does when you move. You focus on how your body feels. This helps you understand what your body can do.
This practice can help us be strong and flexible both physically and emotionally. We can use it to look at a situation differently, open our minds to new situations or people, and pay attention to the challenges of friends and family.