20 Ways to Create a Daily Mindfulness PracticeMar 22, 2021
Happy first week of spring, friends! We finally made it. This is one of my favorite times of the year. Everything starts to come alive again - the days get longer, the weather gets warmer, and there’s a vibrant, fresh energy in the air!
This season is all about new beginnings. It's a time where we start to plant the seeds for the things that we most desire. I have so many exciting things planned for this spring – I’m officially launching my one-on-one coaching program, and I’m starting meditation teacher training in a few weeks! But with all the new changes spring brings, it’s also important to be mindful of your emotions to help prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed or stressed. One of the best ways to do that is to create a daily mindfulness practice!
Being mindful is the practice of being deliberately and actively in the present moment without judgment. It’s a way to be fully aware of our everyday decisions and choosing to live out of intention rather than habit.
So many of us go through our days on autopilot – just going through the motions to get by. Mindfulness brings us back into the present moment and helps us focus on the task at hand, rather than having our minds wanted in a million other directions. Stress is usually a byproduct of thinking about the past or worrying about the future. When we focus on the now, it helps us reduce stress, be more productive and genuinely live happier lives!
Practicing mindfulness can be a relatively simple task, but it’s not always easy. It’s like a muscle – the more you practice and work on it, the stronger it will become. Being mindful takes work, and the more you practice, the better you will get and the more you will start to see it manifest in other parts of your life!
One of the best things about being mindful is that it’s completely free to practice, and it can be done almost anywhere at any time! Most of these exercises can also be done in 5 minutes or less, so they won’t take much time out of our busy day!
Here are 20 simple exercises you can use to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life:
- Create a gratitude practice
This is one of my favorite exercises that I love to incorporate into my daily routine. Throughout your day, be observant of your routine & surroundings and find ONE new thing to be grateful for. Maybe you notice a beautiful bird on your walk, or maybe a stranger holds a door open for you? When you’re doing this exercise, not only do you feel the immense benefits of gratitude, but you’re also completely in the present moment. There is always something new to appreciate and there is no such thing as something too small to be grateful for!
- Practice being mindful while doing mindless activities
Try staying present while doing a regular, mundane activity such as brushing your teeth or doing the dishes. Rather than thinking about your to-do list or things going on later in the day, try to focus on what is happening right now. What color is your toothpaste? What do you see, hear, taste, smell, feel? This exercise definitely easier said than done. There are so many tasks that we complete during our day on autopilot. See if you can focus on being present in the moment for just this ONE thing.
- Take a full-body scan
Take a mindful moment to step away from the noise of the world and do a full-body scan to ground & root yourself in the present moment. To do this, find a comfortable seat somewhere, close your eyes and bring your awareness to the crown of your head. Just notice how the top of your head feels. Bring your awareness down to your nose, your mouth, and maybe notice if you taste anything. Notice your neck, your shoulders, arms, and fingers. Move down to your chest, your belly, and your hips. Then your legs, your calves, your feet, and your toes. Notice what textures you feel, what the temperature of the air is on your skin, what you can hear around you, etc. Notice how you feel afterward.
- Practice mindful meditation
Meditation is the practice of training your attention and awareness to achieve a mentally clear, emotionally calm, and stable state. Mindful Meditation is a type of mediation where you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment without judgment. To do this, find a quiet space somewhere where you will not be distracted or interrupted for a few minutes. Find a comfortable seat with a tall spine either cross-legged on the ground, in a chair with your feet flat on the floor or lying down. Close your eyes or lower your gaze to minimize visual distractions and start to tune into your breath. Notice how your belly and chest move as you inhale and exhale. If you find that your mind is wandering, know that it’s totally normal! Gently bring your attention back to your breath each time this happens. Stay here as long as you want, and when you’re ready slowly open your eyes. Take note of how you feel in this exact moment.
- Set mindful moment alarms
Sometimes we get so swept away by our day-to-day tasks that when we look up, the day is gone. It’s pretty easy to forget to be mindful and relax every so often when we’re busy. It may sound counterintuitive but taking a break in your day can actually help you be more productive! Try setting an alarm or two during your regular lunch hour or a time when you are usually stressed. Use the alarms as reminders to take a brief mindful moment in your day. Are you tensing any specific part of your body? What does your body need in this exact moment?
- Clear the clutter
Do you find that your desk is constantly full of old papers and things that make it difficult to work? Try to simplify your surroundings by keeping your workspace clean and limiting distractions. Clutter is often accumulated due to fear of needing something in the future, or not wanting to let go of the past. Sometimes we will find that we have an emotional attachment to certain items, even if we don’t use those items anymore. Practice mindfulness by clearing your workspace and putting away or getting rid of things that you don’t need right now. Not only will this make it easier for you to find things, but it can help you better focus on the task at hand. Papers or objects can often lead to a snowball of thoughts about all the things you have to - or what you haven’t done yet. Help keep yourself present in the moment by clearing the mess.
- Take a mindful breathing break
Feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Try taking a mindful breathing break! Breathwork is a tool you can use to bring yourself back to the present moment in even the most stressful of situations. Breathing slowly also helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, creating a calming effect in the body. There are MANY different breathwork techniques you can use, but belly breathing is one of the simplest and easiest to do anywhere, anytime.
To practice mindful belly breathing, place one hand on your belly, and one on your heart. Gently bring your attention to your breath and focus your attention on what parts of your belly or chest are rising and falling. Notice the point of stillness between your inhales and exhales. Can you sense the temperature difference between the air as it moves in and out of your nose? See if you can extend your inhales and exhales by just a beat. Take a few minutes to observe your breath, then notice how you feel afterward.
- Practice a walking meditation
I have a habit of putting on my headphones and kind of zoning out in the music as I walk to the train or around my neighborhood. Walking meditation challenges us to really be in the moment. Take even just a few minutes on your next walk to pause the music and tune in to how you feel in the moment. Can you notice which muscles are being activated as you walk? Can you hear birds, cars, or people around you? Is there something new you haven't noticed before? What do you smell? What is the temperature of the air on your skin?
- Eat mindfully
When we’re stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, we sometimes reach for food as a way to distract ourselves or make ourselves feel better. Mindful eating is not a diet, nor a restriction. It’s more of an awareness of what you’re eating, why you’re eating it, how you’re choosing to consume your food, and when you decide to eat. It’s a simple mindset shift to pay attention and eat with intention rather than out of habit. It has several proven benefits like helping with digestion, reducing stress & improving overall health! Next time you go to eat, try eating distraction-free. Ask yourself: am I choosing to eat this food because it’s healthy and I need to nourish my body, or am I eating because it’s convenient? Am I really hungry, or am I just bored? Notice the smell, taste, and texture of each bite. Savor each mouthful in the moment, rather than scarfing it down all at once.
- Grounding 5 senses
This exercise is a great way to calm and center yourself in 60 seconds or less. Allow yourself to take a few deep breaths and try the following:
Notice five things around you that you can see
Notice four things around you that you can hear
Notice three things that you can smell
Notice two things that you can taste
Notice one thing that you can feel
This relatively simple (but not always easy) practice invites you to increase your mindful awareness and savor being in the moment!
- Choose a mindful intention in the morning
Our morning routine can help us set the tone for the rest of our day. Do you usually wake up late feeling scattered, grab your coffee, and get straight to work? Or do you start your day by noticing your breathing and thoughts, setting an intention, and cultivating a gratitude practice? There are so many ways to create a mindful morning routine and different habits will suit different people.
Try this simple practice to bring mindfulness into the day: As soon as you wake up, stop, breathe, notice your thoughts, emotions, and feelings, and then ask yourself these 4 questions:
- How do you choose to show up today?
- How do you choose to feel?
- What matters to you most today?
- What would make you happiest today?
- Listen purposefully
Next time you go to have a conversation, practice being fully in the present moment and listening distraction-free. Put away the phone, step away from outside chatter and try to limit multitasking by solely focusing on the conversation at hand. If you notice your thoughts have wandered or you’re focusing on too many things at once, simply bring yourself back to the present moment.
- Create a consistent mindful movement practice
Our bodies are designed to move. Exercising regularly helps you get out of your and focus your attention on sensations such as breathing and moving – all while developing a healthy, loving relationship with your body. Move in a way that feels good for YOU! Maybe that looks like running, walking, yoga, etc. Learn to listen to the needs of your body and to focus on what you are craving at the moment. Rather than working out as a punishment for what you ate, try exercising as a form of self-love and to celebrate all that your body can do!
- Practice regular self-care
Being mindful of what your body needs and choosing to take care of yourself will help maintain your physical, emotional, and mental strength to prevent and manage stress! Ask yourself what you need right now? Maybe your body is craving some fresh air or a walk outside? Maybe it’s taking time away from social media or spending quality time with the people you love? Maybe you want to listen to your favorite song dance around your house like nobody is watching? Do something today that fills your cup!
- Slow down
I am extremely guilty of wanting to move from one task to the next as quickly as possible. Try slowing down a little and become more aware of your journey. Drive a bit slower on your way to the grocery store, take the long scenic walk to the train, block a little more time to rest before jumping to your next task. Rushing around all the time often leads to increased stress levels and silly mistakes. Instead of racing through lunch or walking as quickly as possible to get to your next destination, try slowing down & enjoying your time.
- Do less on purpose
In today’s society, people wear their busyness like a badge of honor. I remember I used to gloat about how busy I was when people asked me how I was doing because I thought being busy was equivalent to being successful or hardworking. Our brains are not computers - we are physically not built to multitask and jump from one task to the next and expect 100% efficiency with everything we’re doing. Doing more is not always better and taking time to rest and recharge does not make you lazy!
Take some time to consider the purpose behind your daily activities. Are you trying to pack as much in as you can, or are you giving yourself room to breathe, take breaks, and truly focus on the task at hand? Give yourself permission to do less to be fully present and notice how you feel afterward.
- Focus on one thing at a time
Try giving your full attention to one task at a time. Turn off your phone when you’re having dinner with your family. Focus on cuddling with your pet instead of simultaneously texting, watching TV, and having another conversation. Listen to the sound of the rain. Drink a cup of coffee while doing nothing else. Notice what happens when you’re fully focused on the present task at hand instead of rushing to the next one.
- Take technology breaks
Technology has become a huge part of our daily lives, but it can also lead our minds to be in a million separate directions at once. Try disconnecting from your phone, computer, TV and just be in the moment. Give yourself some time to go for a long walk in nature without your phone or take your weekends technology-free! You will most likely find yourself feeling incredibly refreshed and energized afterward.
- Be creative
Being creative is an amazing way to ground yourself in the present moment! Participating in creative activities like drawing, coloring, baking, doodling, or dancing helps you quiet down your mind and help you focus on the moment, thus improving your practice of mindfulness.
Do you remember when you used to color when you were little? When you’re coloring or doing something creative, your mind is often solely focused on the task at hand rather than what is going to happen later in the day or tomorrow. Try doing something creative - if you catch yourself thinking about the past or the future, gently bring your awareness back to the present moment and what you are creating. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to be creative. Let yourself be a kid again!
- Practice having a beginner’s mind
If you’ve ever watched a baby being introduced to a new environment, you’ve probably noticed their eyes wandering around the room – completely captivated and intrigued by each detail around them. When is the last time you noticed your current surroundings with that same sense of wonder? Try spending a few minutes looking at the sights around you as if it were the first time you saw them. Do you notice anything different or new? What are the things you use daily that you usually take for granted?
If implementing mindfulness into your daily life is something you want to learn more about, click HERE to join my Everyday Mindfulness Facebook Group for women! Each week, I share new mindfulness tips that you can implement into your daily life, plus monthly FREE meditation, breathwork, and/or yoga classes!
Want even more? Check out my Everyday Mindfulness Program! It’s a 12-week, one-on-one coaching program designed to help you reduce your stress and learn how to utilize mindfulness in your everyday life! Click HERE to learn more!
Photos by Shanti Knight & Daniel Knight