This is a list of mindfulness activities that can be added to a daily routine in order to increase relaxation and decrease stress. It would be impossible to implement them all at once. An effective strategy is to add one of these habits at a time and see how it works for you.
It should also be noted that these activities do not need to take a long time. Committing to the habit for five minutes per day is a perfect place to start.
Each of these exercises could go into PhD level detail. At this point the following list gives an overview of ideas that can be used to support mindfulness. There are experts and resources dedicated to each activity. Therefore, it could be worthwhile to look them up individually.
In theory, the more mindfulness activities we can embed into our daily routine the better, but it’s important to remember two things. One, that living an increasingly enlightened life is a very personal, evolving and life long journey. Two, we should not concern ourselves with what works for someone else. Instead, we should identify what helps us feel better when we add it to our daily routine.
Regardless of what you choose in terms of the activity to implement, the process of how to be mindful is the same. Don’t fight thoughts, rather observe your mind. Make outside, but active observations of your thoughts and allow them to float by like clouds. Don’t give them extra energy, simply observe them. Over time they will become more and more helpful and in alignment with your ambitions.
1. Gratitude Walk
We can train our minds to look for the positive of what we have, rather than the negative of what we don’t have. By focusing on gratitude in this mindfulness activity, we don’t worry about challenges, or frustrations.
A gratitude walk can give focus to this positive behavior and it can be helpful to have a few prompts. A prompt could be, “what is one thing you are grateful for in life right now?” Once you do this for a while, it can be helpful to use questions that stretch the depths of gratitude.
A prompt that is more specific to the day can help with this. For example, in the morning you might ask, “what are two things you are grateful for that are coming up today?” Or in the evening, something like “what are two things that happened today that you are grateful for experiencing?” The key to making this effective is not the amount of time you spend, but rather the intensity of feeling you have toward the gratitude.
There is no such thing as writer’s block when journaling. Done right, this is a simple stream of consciousness exercise. It is about jotting down anything and everything that comes to mind with zero judgement.
This is an excellent mindfulness activity, because you completely focus on putting thoughts on paper. It’s a way to free your mind from all of the overthinking, and become more of a mental minimalist. Adding prompts of gratitude and appreciation for what you have can be helpful as well.
3. Breath Work
There are many types of breathing exercises, but the main question is how often do you pay attention to your breathing? Practicing slow, deep, focused breathing, can promote a relaxed state of both mind and muscles.
A helpful cue for this habit can be to breathe mindfully for one minute everytime you make a physical transition. For example, throughout the day, each time you go to the washroom, get in or out of the car, move to a different room, or get on the phone do some focused breathing.
4. Flow Art
Finding an activity, or collection of activities in the creative art space can be a simple way to get into a state of flow quickly. The perfect balance of simple to start up, but highly engaging activities can be very enjoyable in a short period of time.
It becomes a mini-meditation moment where your mind can roam free while you are focused on what you are doing physically. Examples might include crafting with clay, painting, doodling, sticker books, knitting, making music, poetry, coloring books and much more.
5. Appreciation Letters
In our busy lives, we often fail to show appreciation to the people around us. We are so consumed with our own thoughts and tasks that we don’t give thanks to the ways others support us. Taking the time to write appreciation letters shows that you are fully present with the people in your network.
This habit can be very powerful because it creates a combination of many other mindfulness activities. Writing appreciation letters will regularly put you in a state of gratitude and creates a moment of being focused on the physical task of writing.
6. Guided Meditation
There are many apps, podcasts and websites that share guided meditations. This can be helpful because you can receive many of the benefits of meditation, such as relaxation of mind, body and spirit. But, you don’t have to try and develop a technique all on your own.
You simply receive support and guidance for the session itself. With guided meditation, you are eased into a positive state of mindfulness by another person. The person will walk you through their process step by step, so that all you have to do is follow along, let go, and relax.
7. Eat Whole Foods
There is a lot of debate around diets, popular styles of eating from paleo, vegetarian, fruitarian, vegan, fats, sugars, keto, Atkins and others. While we could debate what might work best in terms of nutrition, one thing that seems quite clear is that whole foods can help with clarity.
The entire goal of a mindfulness activity is to prevent negative thoughts from being connected to each other. Instead we want to be free to focus on connecting positive thoughts, aligned with our ambitions. Clean eating can help this process.
Similar to breath work, focused eating can add an element of mindfulness and meditation. To take this further step, try focusing on the act of eating in and of itself. When eating something healthy, focus on your five senses, what you see, feel, hear, taste and smell while you eat.
8. Shower Affirmations
A shower is already part of a daily routine. Therefore it can be an easy place to start, because it can be a cue. If you use a sauna, hot tub, or steam bath this routine can also be applied. The combination of heat and positive thinking can be a great routine. We often get our best thoughts in these moments, but try adding a quick affirmation session.
Our thoughts all connect to each other, whether helpful, or unhelpful. The key is to focus on creating positive thoughts that connect to each other. Use the power of affirmation in this moment to tell yourself things that you want to be a part of your character. Tell yourself things like “you are a badass” and “you deserve your wildest dreams.” Pretend for instance that you are becoming a superhero for a movie, what characteristics would you add?
A trick can be to use “abundance statements” such as “there is an abundance of goals I can achieve, this world is overflowing with love that can be mine, and there is an abundance of money that can flow to me. Or “I statements” such as “I am living the life I need. I do not need any more results at this moment. I’m worthy enough to follow my dreams. I will manifest my desires, and I am content and in alignment with the path that I am on.
9. Mindful Music
Listening to music is one of the quickest ways to shift your mood and definitely becomes one of the most fun mindfulness activities. If you want to double down on the impact do a little dancing too.
Music in general can reduce stress, increase energy, and focus. But, depending on the type of shift you need, you may choose different types of music. Song choices are an individual preference, but if you get it right you will know. You will feel more productive, positive, and ready to learn.
10. Laugh Or Smile
Life in general does not need to be overly serious. But somehow we manage to make it that way. Making sure laughter and smiling is a part of your day is well worth the effort. Much like affirmations that we can control, we can choose to smile, or laugh because they are physical tasks. Put simply, smiling and laughing settle our minds, hearts, and relax the body. Smiling and laughing releases positive chemicals and reduces stress chemicals.
There are literally smiling and laughing clubs where people join to do just that. Another way to apply this method is by smiling while looking in the mirror. Or finding things that you know you find funny and making them a regular part of your daily routine.
Is sort of the classic of all mindfulness activities. Practicing meditation is like strength training for your mind. The purpose of meditation is to observe negative patterns of your mind and over time, calm your overthinking. With practice, you’ll gain more and more control over your thoughts, which will have a positive effect on your emotions.
Meditation is simple in theory, but there are many different branches and strategies you can try. Some are more complex than others, but the simplest version is sitting quietly with your eyes closed and observing your thoughts. If improving mediation is an interest it can be well worth doing some research on how to improve meditation techniques.
12. One Big Frog
Having a “to-do list” of everything we want to complete in our life can be very overwhelming. It also creates a stream of connected thoughts that are extremely unnecessary. There will always be one most important thing to do in line with your goals for the day. This exercise combines mindfulness activities with a productivity practice by visualizing one big frog.
Think of the most important, not the most urgent, but the most valuable thing you want to accomplish in your day. Spend some time visualizing this task and every little detail you will do to complete it. Close your eyes if helpful and envision the completion of this valuable micro goal. What will it look like and feel like to get it done?
Engaging in rigorous exercise that increases your heart rate, improves strength and increases endurance can have many positive effects on mindset. It puts us in a state of mind that is primed to feeling accomplished and confident. It also boosts metabolism which can have lasting effects on increasing relaxation and energy.
This is an intense exercise routine that challenges us to keep going when we feel like giving up. It pushes us beyond both our physical and mental limitations to an optimal amount. Examples include yoga, martial arts, weightlifting, cycling, rock climbing, dance and much more.
14. Mobility & Massage
Even though we talk a lot about the mind, our body is what needs to carry out any physical work we do so it is helpful to keep it optimized throughout the day. This is different from a fitness routine. Even if you maintain a rigorous exercise routine, this is more about a simple reset button the body that can be done as many times as possible throughout the day.
It’s about maintaining a body that is both primed for action and has less tension as a result of the work we do. Your body can benefit greatly from simply massaging, or stretching your muscles for a small amount of time. Mobility and massage can come in many forms such as stretching, rolling, and mobility work that gives your body a boost of mindful energy.
15. Time In Nature
Time outdoors, in fresh air can have an immediate psychological and physiological impact on our mood. While simply removing ourselves from indoors can have a positive effect, the key here isn’t to wander aimlessly.
Taking time in nature while focusing deeply on the incredible gifts that mother nature can provide us increases the impact. If we focus with a sense of wonder on the creatures, trees, leaves, clouds, stars, sun, and any other natural occurring thing we will reach a sense of calm. It puts in perspective just how small, practically non-existent our problems are in this incredible universe.
16. Go To Your Happy Place
This is a great example of using the mind as the tool that it is by purposefully going into your future. Think of it as a vacation, but it’s mental and short-lived. If you feel mentally overwhelmed or exhausted you can shift to a peaceful place through visualization.
Using all of your imagined senses, picture your ideal future vacation. Go deeply into a restful place by intensely imagining all of the sights, smells, sensations, and sounds in this mini-vacation. When it comes to mindfulness activities, this is one of the best at bringing about better vibrations as you control envisioning all that will exist in your future.
Removing physical clutter is an external path to fixing internal confusion and chaos. As you reclaim control over your physical space, ensuring it includes only what brings you joy, you will create positive energy.
For people who struggle with the abstract of mental mindfulness activities, this physical practice might be more practical and pragmatic. The key is to organize the top 20% of things that bring you joy in a space. Then remove everything else. Adopting the habit of decluttering a different space for a few minutes every day is a life-changing habit.
18. Building Things
As far as exciting mindfulness activities go, building things might be the most fun. It could be as involved as woodworking, computers, gardening, cutting bonsai trees, or straightforward activities such as doing puzzles, or building models. Either way, building something takes just the right amount of focus needed to slow down and think about what you are working on while getting other things out of your mind.
19. Daily Playback
This is another great example of using the mind as a tool to reflect when you are in control. If you are someone who struggles with negative self-talk, frustrations, or over analysis, this is the perfect way to put all of that reviewing in one place. Developing daily mindfulness habits takes patience, persistence, and commitment.
It can be valuable to watch your progress when it comes to mindfulness, because what gets measured can get managed. But, we need to live in the moment as much as possible.
This works by designating one time to reflect mindfully on your day, or your week to see what is working and what is not when it comes to mindfulness. Seeing your progress and how these habits are impacting your state of mind will give you the ability not only to keep going, but to expand your abilities.
20. Plan Your Next Day
This is another example of looking into your future in a mindful way. Planning your day the night before saves you time and energy by preventing decision fatigue and ensuring focus on priorities. You may face the temptation to unwind in your evening, but this habit of quickly planning your next day is well worth it.
This short mindfulness activity will help you feel far more calm, cool, and excited for the next morning. If it doesn’t then it’s up to you to identify what is in your plan that should be removed. Or what is not in your plan that should be added. This gives you full ownership over what you do each and every day, instead of feeling like a tumbleweed in a windstorm.
21. Engage With Friends Daily
Find someone who helps you to reflect. As much as it’s typical to be alone and reflect, it can be really helpful to have someone you can do a very brief, but powerful check-in with. Find that person who really fires you up and pushes you to be better. Find some way to connect with them each day.
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