I hope you’re having a good day. 💜 Today I would like to delve a bit more into a few different types of exercises and activities that work towards bringing you closer to being more mindful of yourself and your surroundings, not just during an activity like colouring that I wrote about earlier, but throughout your whole day.
I mentioned mindfulness before, specifically relating to adult colouring books and how they’ve helped me a lot with stress, focus and sleeping. I got some comments from readers as well on the different benefits of mindfulness colouring and was happy to hear that it’s helping you. 🙂 You can read more about that in my earlier post here.
Please note: this post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through my link. This is at no extra cost to you but will help towards keeping my blog up and running. Thank you! ♥
Mindfulness has loads and loads of benefits but the main ones, and the most powerful ones, include stress relief, better management of physical illnesses and their symptoms and decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can make recovery journeys easier too, for example, managing self-growth after a traumatic event and PTSD.
Because mindfulness can increase the general well-being of your mind, it can have a positive effect on your general health as a result; you’re more likely to engage in physical exercise and more likely to decrease bad habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol and eating fast food. Mindfulness has also been studied in relation to the brain – it can have benefits towards cognitive functions such as attention, learning and memory.
Having said all of the above, practising mindfulness might not be of any use if you only do it once or twice – to reap the benefits, you’ll have to make it a routine, a consistent practice. I’ve collected a short, easy list of ideas below that might help you find some mindfulness activities you feel comfortable with and can start practising every single day! 👍
Easy mindfulness exercises: ideas for beginners to practise every day
Each of the below ideas is different, and you might prefer one over the other. Remember that there are no good or bad methods – they will all help improve your mindfulness. These are the easy ones that I’ve found helpful to myself based on doing this for a couple of years. You choose whatever you like best! 🙂
There are activities that you can do in a group, however, due to not feeling very comfortable with group exercises personally, I have listed only things that you can do on your own.
I like to do one activity in the morning, and one in the evening. The rest of the day I will do an exercise if the opportunity presents itself – some of these are quick and easy to do even at the office during the day if you can find a quiet spot somewhere to occupy for a few minutes. Sometimes it is not possible, but that’s ok, at least I have my mornig and evening exercises set.
If you need more structure, you can try to assign 1-2 specific exercises for each day of the week, and see how you get on.
1. Inspect an every-day object
Find an object nearby and bring it over to where you can comfortably sit. Focus on the object, try to tune out your surroundings.
Touch the object with your hand, both hands if it’s a bigger one, and start being more aware of it. What does it feel like – is it rough or smooth? What temperature is it, is it warm, is it cool to the touch?
When you look at the object, how would you describe it? Are there any details on it? What colours does it have? Any patterns?
Use your nose – what does the object smell like? Does it have a smell?
Additional idea: When you’ve done this a few times, you can shift your focus into other types of things as well. Do you have pets? Try an exercise where you try the above, but with your pet as the “object”. If you live with someone, you can try this with a trusted person too. Take their hand, for example, look at the different parts of the hand, the roughness or smoothness of the skin, the temperature.
Just don’t freak the person out with the “smelling” part as that might seem a bit weird – always explain to them first what the exercise is about! 😆
My notes: The smell part of this exercise has often surprised me – so often we see and touch things in our surroundings, but rarely do we consciously stop to smell them! I collect interesting and pretty rocks from my walks outside and store them in a compartment under my living room table; I often use them for this exercise. It’s good to have some variety in the objects that you use though so you can have as many different experiences with this as possible. 🙂
2. Do a scan on your surroundings
This works well when you’re outside, for example, walking home, going to the grocery store, or during your lunch break at work.
While outside, pick a spot where you can see many different things. A street view, for example, or overlooking a park or a row of houses. Even your own backyard or garden. Take a deep breath and try to focus on what you see.
What colours are there? Is anything standing out as brighter than the rest? Is anything moving at all, or is everything still? Don’t think too much – a simple observation of something moving, something being green, something being a lovely shade of purple, something looking like a pattern – is enough.
While you stand there, close your eyes. What can you physically feel? Can you feel a gentle wind on your skin? The warmth of the sun on your face?
While your eyes are still closed, try to focus your hearing. What sounds can you observe around you? Sounds of the traffic, maybe? Animals – are there any birds around? Dogs barking? Are people talking nearby? Do you hear the wind blowing?
My notes: I like to do this on my way to the grocery store. It’s also the same way when I want to take a walk along the canal, but that happens less often I’m afraid. Anyway, there’s a narrow footpath surrounded by trees on both sides, with a busy road not far away. I can see terraced houses through the trees and some back gardens. It feels lovely doing this exercise often in this same place. You’d think I know everything there is to know about my surroundings on that footpath by now, but I still observe something new every time!
Just to add: I am not peering through the trees in a creepy way towards people’s back gardens, in case that’s what my description above sounded like!
3. Do a body scan
This one can take a bit longer and I recommend it for the mornings when you’re still in bed, or evenings when you’re about to sleep. It’s normally a group exercise but I’ve adapted it to a quicker one to do alone.
Lie down, eyes closed, on something comfortable (bed, sofa, yoga mat). Concentrate on your breathing and be aware of its rhythm. Don’t move.
Be aware of your body against the surface you’re lying on. What does it feel like? What parts of your body are touching something? How does the air around you feel like, is it warm, is it cold?
Are there any sounds that you can hear around you, or is it silent?
Shift your focus back to your body. Concentrate on your toes. How do they feel? What about the rest of your feet and legs? Are the muscles relaxed or tense? If they are tense, relax them as much as you can, aim for a calm, relaxed, light feeling, as if your legs were part of the surface you’re lying on.
Go through each part of your body in a similar manner and try to be as aware as possible. When you’ve come to the last part of your body and “scanned” it, take a deep breath, and open your eyes. How do you feel now?
My notes: The first time I did this exercise, I was a child, about 25 years ago! It was a school gym class and we had a visiting instructor teaching us how to relax. This was the exercise we did, and I almost fell asleep. I’ve been using it ever since when I feel like I need to relax my body, or when I need to focus and let go of distracting thoughts in order to fall asleep. Recently I’ve been incorporating this into my mindfulness routine, and I think it’s worked well so far.
I will try this more in the mornings now that I have a goal of waking up earlier during November. Mindfulness can focus your thoughts and strengthen your resolve. 🙂
4. Eat something, mindfully
This might sound a little bit silly at first, but it’s not. If you have a habit on snacking on something during the day, why not take that moment to practise some mindfulness at the same time?
Retrieve your snack and sit down comfortably. Look at the snack and focus on what you see. Is it packaged? What colour is it?
What does the packaging feel like against your skin? Is it smooth or rough? Is it cold or warm? If you turn it around in your hands for a bit, does it make any sound? Rustling, for example?
Open the packaging. What does the food look like? What colour is it? Does it have any visible texture or pattern?
What does it smell like? Before putting it in your mouth, feel it against your lips and focus on that feeling for a bit.
When you’re eating, pay attention to the taste and texture. How would you describe it in three words?
My notes: By stopping to focus on what I am eating, the different aspects of it, I’ve felt like I’ve learned something new about the foods that I eat. Not about what they contain and how healthy they are or any new factual knowledge, but info about myself and my senses when I am eating. It’s delightful to observe something new in something simple, such as a banana! 🍌
I’m quite self-conscious and I feel like this exercise can be a little bit awkward when done in front of colleagues at work, or in a cafe, as your tasting and feeling might be observed on your face. Imagine focusing on a banana like that. 😳
I recommend doing this at home when you’re alone, but if you’re not bothered by other people seeing you while you focus on your food, by all means, try it publicly too! Whatever works best.
5. Think about today, and what you're feeling now
This melts two exercises into one process and I recommend doing this in the evening so you have some thinking material to use from the past day.
Close your eyes. Think back and try to imagine in your mind what happened during the day. Pick one thing about your day that you think went well, or was somehow positive. It can be a big thing or a tiny little detail from your day, such as spotting a pretty flower on the pavement – the size doesn’t matter as long as it gave you a positive feeling.
Focus on that moment, and think back to the exact time when it occurred. How did you feel? Imagine you are in that scenario right now, in your mind, observing that moment in slow motion. Think about some of the details around you at that moment as well. Can you remember anything specific, like people walking past if you were outside, buildings, the wind, the rain?
How did you feel physically? Did you smile? Or was it one of those tiny moments where you barely noticed and hurriedly walked past, only vaguely registering a pleasant feeling before something else caught your attention?
Once you have built a full picture in your mind of that time, start pulling out from the memory into the present moment.
Focus on your breathing, keep your eyes closed, and try to feel as relaxed as possible. How are you feeling right now? Did you retain any of that pleasant feeling you observed in your past moment?
My notes: Someone at work who came to talk to our team about workplace-related mindfulness once told me to think back to my day during the commute back home, and recap what went well, and what didn’t go so well. That was a few years ago and I’ve made an effort to do this as often as I remember.
I’ve found this method very helpful when thinking about what I can learn from the things that didn’t go well, for next time, and to appreciate the positives. Recently, I’ve left out the negative part altogether, due to wanting to only concentrate on the good things. Life is too short to mull over the daily negatives, don’t you think? After anxiety and depression, I increasinly appreciate that I am able to let go of the negatives quicker.
Remember that mindfulness can take a lot of practise before you start getting the hang of it. You might feel like it’s not doing anything, and you might feel like you’re not connecting with the exercises properly in your mind. You might feel a bit silly doing them at first.
Feeling like that is totally normal, it happened to me as well in the beginning – just keep trying! You will find an exercise that works for you eventually. I can’t wait for you to discover it, if you haven’t yet. 😃
If you’d like to practise mindfulness and it’s noisy at home, or you’re in a public space such as a coffee shop, bus stop, during your commute, at your desk at the office – I recommend investing in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
I highly recommend these ones by Bose! They are popular, sound quality is excellent if you want to also listen to music sometimes, and the brand is reliable and well-known. The headphones are super comfortable to wear and light-weight. I wear these at the office sometimes, and I also wear glasses. These are the only headphones that don’t give me a headache or press uncomfortably behind my ears because of the glasses, or press against the top of my head.
Grab a pair from Amazon below! They’re not the cheapest, but they’re a good investment and a big help. I use them for normal work concentration as well, not just during mindfulness exercises. 🙂
Do you practise mindfulness? Have you built a daily routine with these types of activities? I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with it, and if you have any additional tips that beginners could benefit from.