If you’re looking for some mindful activities to relieve stress and bring more calm into your life you’re in the right place.
Mental health has come to the forefront of people’s minds in recent years, reported in the news regularly, talked about on topical TV and radio shows, in Soaps, and in documentaries, such as Caroline Flack: Her Life and Death.
The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of taking care of our mental health and emotional well-being to help prevent loneliness, social isolation, and feelings of anxiety and low mood.
That’s where mindfulness steps in. It’s a tool used in positive psychology to promote good mental health, and whilst ‘mindfulness’ may have become a bit of a buzzword, that’s because it’s a powerful tool that works wonders when we get it right.
Being mindful helps us to de-stress, feel calm, and clear our minds of the mental clutter that we hold on to or worry about.
Mindfulness is about slowing down and focusing just on one thing at a time. And mindful activities allow us some space and peace, time to switch off from being busy and to really enjoy some simple things.
I want to share some mindful activities that you can use to reduce tension and anxiety and instill a sense of calm into your life.
Some of the activities are creative, some are ordinary tasks you do most days that can be done more mindfully, and some are probably things you’ve never heard of but will help you calm your nervous system and feel beautifully relaxed.
Creative mindful activities
- Colouring in
- Henna art
- Crosswords and sudoku puzzles
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Building lego
- Cake decorating
Activities such as colouring in have become more popular over the last few years as mindfulness has taken off, however many people do these in the evening while they’re watching TV and that’s not very mindful at all.
The trick with all of these creative mindful activities is to turn off the TV and really think about what you’re doing in the moment – feeling how the paint goes onto the paper or the canvas, observing the colours of the pencils and how they shade and merge into one another, watching as your jigsaw, lego, or baking creations come to life.
Every day mindful activities
- Brushing teeth
Simple activities we do regularly can often be done in a more mindful way.
You can make mealtimes more mindful with a few basic practices like turning off the TV or any background noise to cook and eat, listening to the sizzle of your pan, chewing slowly to savor every mouthful, or sensing all the flavours and aromas in your food.
Brushing our teeth comes so automatically that we hardly need to think about it, so try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, it’s a completely different experience!
When out walking instead of always listening to music or walking with a friend and talking, try a solo walk and see how the trees move in the wind, listen to the sound that you can hear such as the birds, rustling of the leaves, a train in the distance, or aircraft in the sky.
Gardening is another great way to practice mindfulness and connect with nature at the same time. Notice the weather and how plants and trees change with the seasons. Feel the textures of the leaves or the soil as you’re potting plants, watch the worms and bugs move across the grass, notice the bees and butterflies and which plants they flutter around the most.
Intentional mindful exercises
- Body scan
- Five senses exercise
A body scan is a really simple form of mindfulness meditation and a relaxing way to calm the mind and body.
You can lie on your bed, a yoga mat, or the sofa for this exercise. And you can close your eyes if you wish to help you tune into your body.
Starting with the toes, move up to the rest of the feet and ankles, then your lower legs, knees and thighs, then pelvic region, lower back, stomach, chest, upper back, shoulders, arms, hands and fingers, neck, jaw, nose, eyes, and head.
You simply use your awareness to mindfully ‘scan’ your whole body, noticing any sensations like pain or tension.
I want to introduce to you the concept of shaking – as in shaking out your body.
It might sound a little strange but lots of animals do this automatically to release stress and trauma.
All you need to do is stand or sit and shake your arms, or any parts of your body that you feel called to. Don’t worry about looking silly, you can close your eyes if it helps (just make sure you have some space around you so you won’t trip or fall over).
Shaking helps regulate your nervous system which in turn reduces blood pressure and heart rate and helps regulate body temperature, digestion, and metabolism. You can either shake fast to increase your energy and mood or shake more slowly to help you wind down before bed.
Note: Please do be aware of your own ability and safety when doing this, especially if you have any mobility problems or relevant health issues.
Five senses exercise
This is a quick and relatively easy exercise to bring you into a mindful state. All you need to do is notice something you are experiencing with each of your five senses.
SEE – Notice five things you can see. For example a shadow, a crack in the pavement, or a lavender bush.
HEAR – Notice four things you can hear. For example cars passing by, birds outside, or the hum of your freezer.
FEEL – Notice three things you can feel. For example the breeze or clothing on your skin, the chair you are sitting on, or maybe an itch, pain, or tension in your body somewhere.
SMELL – Notice two things you can smell. For example freshly cut grass, food being cooked, or the scent of your shampoo.
TASTE – Notice one thing you can taste. For example the drink you last had or the taste of toothpaste left in your mouth.
Still feeling stressed?
These stress-busting mindful activities should bring you some much needed calm and relaxation, especially when practiced regularly.
But if you’re still feeling stressed or anxious or struggling with your mental health, I offer psychotherapeutic counselling to support you in moving forward into a better state of emotional wellbeing.
If you’d like to book a counselling session, you can contact me here.
I look forward to hearing which of these exercises you try and please do share the article with others as you never know who it might help.