Discover smart mindfulness activities that help you live a better life.
by Jessica Dillon
5 min read
Being mindful is hard. No, really, it is. Many of us don’t have the time it takes, or at least, think that we don’t because for some reason, we assume that a mindfulness exercise or game should take a lot of time, but that’s not the case.
In this article, we’ll be looking at a bunch of mindfulness activities that you can do without having to spend two hours doing them.
These are perfect for adults with busy lives, those of you juggling a stressful job, or full-time parenting.
While it’s often difficult to make time for such an exercise, it’s really important that you try to because too often, we tend to do things automatically, without actually seeing what we’re doing. And that’s a shame because your life is right here, right now. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not in that presentation you’ve got lined up next month or in the holiday you’re planning for this summer. It’s now. And you need to start paying attention to it, experiencing it, otherwise you know what?
When that holiday or that presentation comes, you won’t be present then either and they’ll pass you by, while you’re stuck contemplating the future or the past.
So here are some of our favorite fun mindfulness activities that you can do to ground yourself in the present moment.
We’re starting with something that you already do and that will take no extra time at all. Well, maybe it’ll take a couple more minutes for you to finish your meal, but come on, a 2-minute mindfulness exercise? Who’s gonna give you a better deal than that?
So how do you do mindful eating?
Well, it couldn’t be simpler. A good idea would be to do this at lunch or whenever you’re eating alone, because it doesn’t really work when eating with family or your partner (that time is best used connecting and communicating with them).
So ideally, pick a meal that you traditionally take alone and really experience it. Don’t rush through the bites in a race to see how fast you can finish your meal, but rather do it slowly and pay attention to what is going on in your mouth.
Is the meal tasty? Does it need anything, in your opinion? What’s that? Is it a dash of salt or maybe some basil? But don’t get hung up on these things, don’t think “Oh, my meal sucks”. Just notice them, become aware of them objectively.
Next, try to identify the flavors you can feel. Is it spicy or sweet? You know, really feel it. Sure, rice will always taste like rice. But each time, there will be these subtle, minute differences that you can focus on in order to be more mindful.
Lastly, mindful eating depends a lot on what you’re doing during the meal. Or more accurately, what you’re not doing. We all have that unpleasant habit of multi-tasking while we eat, whether it’s reading the news or checking our phone, or even watching our favorite show on Netflix.
And while these things have their own obvious benefits, they’re stopping you from living in the present and that’s not good. So set all electronics aside for the 20 minutes it takes you to properly enjoy your lunch.
Thought coloring books were for kids? Think again. Adult coloring books have been making waves in recent years and they have actually been shown to help soothe stress and make you feel much more balanced.
Why do coloring books work?
First of all, art therapy is beneficial because it provides an artistic outlet. We all have a reasonable amount of creativity and creative potential locked inside us. And this potential doesn’t really get to see the light of day much because most of our day to day lives are automated. Most jobs don’t require a lot of creativity, unfortunately.
Coloring books are also great because they allow you to unwind and focus on a singular task. Often, our minds are divided between multiple tasks, pet peeves, grievances and desires. We are given so much choice in today’s world that it actually becomes nauseating.
A coloring book sets one simple purpose that you will be working towards over the next 20 minutes. And it will actually give you something tangible to show for the time spent, which many people value.
Lastly, a great benefit of coloring for adults is that it allows their mind to wander. Sure, you can use this time to work through the tangle of thoughts in your head, but more often than not, you’ll lose it somewhere along the way and give your mind a much needed breather.
A coloring book is basically telling you: you’re here now and you’re doing this. Period.
And sometimes, that’s exactly what we need to hear.
It might come as a shock to you, but we only hear about 25% of any given conversation. Astonishing, isn’t it? The sad truth is that we tend to set our ears on auto-pilot while having a coffee with a colleague, friend or family member. We tend to do this even more when we’ve known that person for a while.
I mean, I know you already, I can guess the type of things you’ll talk or complain about, what your opinion will be on current events and basically how this conversation will go, so why shouldn’t I use this time to also think about what other tasks I have to fulfill later or what I want to eat tonight?
Well, you can do that and most of us do. But the trouble is, it prevents you from being mindful and paying attention to the moment you’re living in. The number above tells us that we only experience 25% of the moment, which is quite low, don’t you think?
So next time you’re having a conversation with someone, pay attention. Both to your conversation, but also to your thought process and try to keep your own mind in check. Is it wandering? Do you find yourself thinking about other things that happened during the day or already constructing your response? Then you need to stop and force yourself to focus on what the other person is saying to you right now.
Because this article sets out to give you fun games and activities you can do to increase your mindfulness, right? Mindfulness exercises don’t need to be slow or dull, as many people assume, they can be ecstatic and highly enjoyable.
And dance is perhaps the best example of this. How often do you dance, on average? And I don’t mean professional dancing at a wedding or taking samba classes. I mean flopping about and letting the music move you. You know, that unapologetic and joyous type of dancing you used to do when you were a kid?
When’s the last time you did that? However long it’s been, it’s far too long. Interestingly enough, dancing and losing yourself in the rhythm can actually help wake you up to the present moment.
So put on your favorite song and start moving. Crazy, chaotic dancing that would probably mortify you if you were seen in public right now.
Enjoy yourself and actually feel the music. Forget inhibitions and everything else that usually stops you from dancing this way.
We actually didn’t come up with that, it was Miguel de Cervantes. But he made a great point, don’t you think?
Even more than dancing, most of us are literally afraid to be heard singing because a great many of us can’t hold a tune for the life of them. I know I can’t, yet that’s never stopped me from singing passionately around the house to my favorite musical numbers.
First of all, because it’s fun and natural. It’s perfectly normal to want to sing along to a song you like, so why suppress it? Second, because by singing along to a tune that’s playing, you force yourself to pay attention to the words and the rhythm. In other words, you have to be in the moment because that’s where the music is playing.
And hey, after the first few times (where you barely get the lyrics to come out of you), put on a show. Be silly. Use your hairbrush or your shower-head for a microphone. Point to the imaginary audience and perform like your favorite artists. It’s insane, but there’s nothing quite like it to keep you mindful.
We all have to wash, don’t we? So why not take the chance to practice mindfulness? You want to know how you bathe mindfully? You prepare for it, you put thought into it, because the more effort it took for you to get ready for this, the easier it will come for you to pay attention and enjoy it.
A good idea is to purchase bathing items, such as a nice sponge or deliciously scented bath salts, bombs or washing creams. Set the mood, dim the lights, maybe even purchase some candles if that’s your thing. Put on some music. Or don’t. That really depends on what your tastes are. Maybe get yourself a box of chocolates to enjoy while bathing, or alternatively, bring a book to the party.
See, the more you prepare for it, the more it’ll feel like an event as opposed to your regular, banal washing experience.
Many people tend to save this kind of stuff for a romantic bath with their partner and that can be great and sexy, too. But since when did you decide that ‘just you’ isn’t worthy of the effort?
Alternatively, if you don’t like baths or don’t have the possibility for one at home, you can try a mindful shower. This involves activities like listening to the water falling and really making yourself aware of the feel of the water on your skin. Focus on each part of your body and the smell of the soap you’re using.
Take this occasion to really look at yourself. Seriously, when’s the last time you actually took time to look at your toes or your thighs? And I’m not talking “oh, I need to lose some weight” or “those pants fit me horribly” kind of looking. I’m talking mindful “this is who I am” looking.
I bet you’re going back, checking that this is an article for adults. It is. But just because you’re no longer a child doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a game. In fact, kids tend to be far more present precisely because they play so much (and playing happens automatically in the present).
Playing with leaves is great because it makes you pay attention to your surroundings. You can do this on a walk, in the park or in your backyard. Start by picking up a leaf and taking a few minutes to look at it. Really see it – feel the texture, smell it maybe, observe the thin lines and what patterns they might follow, take in the color, shape and size. Notice that leaf.
And then play with it. Make a small collection of leaves. You can make a point of gathering similar looking leaves or look for ones that are as different as possible. This is a great exercise for mindfulness because it forces you to keep your eyes open and pay attention to what you’re seeing (otherwise how will you know which leaves you need?).
And besides, it’s silly and fun and we all need a little fun in our lives.
Of course, these are just some of the mindfulness activities we love to practice in our day-to-day lives. What are yours?
Mindfulness Activities: Fun Ways to Be Mindful (No Matter How Much Time You Have!)
6 Fun Mindfulness Exercises For Adults
10 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Adults and Children
22 Mindfulness Exercises, Techniques & Activities For Adults (+ PDF’s)