71 Mindfulness Exercises for Living in the Present Moment
Looking for mindfulness exercises? Something to help you increase your daily mindfulness, in a hectic life?
That is what our book 10-Minute Mindfulness is about. This book explores 71 mindfulness habits you can add to a daily schedule. Making even the most hectic day just a little bit more mindful.
This post gives an overview of the 71 habits included in the new 10 minute mindfulness book. Feel free to try as many of these mindfulness habits on for size, and check out the book for great more details about these habits and how to incorporate mindfulness into the busiest daily routine.
Granted, it is impossible to engage in all of these mindfulness exercises.
Since most of these mindfuleness exercises take five to ten minutes to complete, it would take you six to twelve hours to complete all 71 mindfulness habits.
Trying to do so might make you a mindfulness expert, but you may neglect real-world necessities that help you maintain your career, relationships, and lifestyle.
We suggest you start small by building a single routine at a specific time each day that has a maximum of three habits. Then build out from those quick mindfulness exercises.
Mindfulness Exercises (habits)
#1. Wake up Early
Choosing to awaken a little earlier in the morning not only allows you to begin your day with mindfulness but also extends the amount of time you have to enjoy life.
Give it a try for a week or so. You may be surprised at how much more you enjoy your mornings with just a few extra minutes.
#2. Awaken with Gratitude
When we begin the day with gratitude, we train our minds to look for the positive rather than focusing on the challenges, frustrations, and slights we have encountered throughout the week.
The key to making this habit effective is not the number of things you feel grateful for or even the amount of time you spend in gratitude, but rather the intensity of focus and feeling you have around the effort.
A mindful gratitude practice means immersing yourself in the emotion so that you feel deeply and profoundly blessed.
#3. Do a Mindful Body Scan
The simplest way to get in touch with how you’re feeling is to do a mindful body scan. A body scan is a meditative practice in which you focus on each part of every area, often beginning at the toes and moving to the head.
The key here is to train your attention on each specific part for a moment and pay close attention to how you feel.
#4. Practice a Morning Breathing Exercise
Do you pay much attention to your breathing? Practicing mindful, focused breathing, even for ten minutes a day, reduces stress and promotes relaxation.
Slow, deep, rhythmic breathing causes a reflex stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which results in a reduction in the heart rate and relaxation of the muscles.
#5. Notice Your Thoughts
If you allow negative thoughts to run rampant first thing in the morning, you lose the best time for creativity and productivity. Many people wake up feeling anxious and filled with dread, as the cycle of rumination and negative thinking begins the minute their feet hit the floor.
Once you’re aware of this bad habit, you can begin to change it by adopting a very simple new habit—observation. When you separate yourself from your thoughts and simply notice them with detachment, you remove some of the power they have over your emotions.
#6. Make Your Bed Mindfully
Do you make your bed every morning? It may seem like a waste of time on a rushed morning, but there are many great reasons to adopt this simple habit.
Making your bed is considered a “keystone” habit. Making your bed in the morning is correlated to more productivity, a sense of well-being, and even better budgeting skills. It sets the tone for accomplishment throughout your day when you complete this one task the moment you get out of bed.
#7. Follow a Bathroom Ritual
View the steps you take to get ready in the morning as an attentive ritual rather than just a means to get out the door.
By paying more attention to the actions you take, you return to the present moment with focus and gratitude, rather than allowing your random thoughts to set the tone for the day.
#8. Practice Shower Meditation
For most people, a shower is already part of their morning routine. But when you add a quick meditation session to this ritual, you can focus on practicing deep thinking and creating positive thoughts for the day.
Sure, shower meditation might sound hokey, but look it this way: You know how you often get your best thoughts in the shower? Well, the same principle applies here. The calming effect of warm water puts your mind on autopilot, which frees it up to come up with inspirational ideas.
Shower meditation is one of the mindfulness exercises that are great because they doesn't require you to do anything new, just do the same stuff differently. In a more thoughtful and mindful manner.
#9. Drink Water
Drinking water is another habit like the mindfulness exercise above. It is nothing new, it is just about taking the time to do a normal good habit in a more mindful manner.
There are so many health benefits to drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning. Your body has been without hydration for seven to eight hours, so it needs water to rehydrate—especially if you’re going to follow up your water with a cup of caffeinated coffee or tea.
Drinking a large cool glass of water after you wake also fires up your metabolism by 24% for ninety minutes according to a research study. It also increases mental and physical performance during the day. When you’re dehydrated, you can feel tired and drained, and you may experience headaches and mood fluctuations.
#10. Smile in the Mirror
Does that seem ridiculous? It might feel that way when you first practice it (especially if someone walks in on you). But smiling at yourself in the mirror first thing in the morning has many positive benefits for your well-being.
In fact, British research scientists concluded “that smiling can be as stimulating as receiving up to 16,000 Pounds Sterling in cash.”
Smiling slows the heart and relaxes the body, and it releases endorphins that counteract and diminish stress hormones. It also has been shown to increase productivity while a person performs tasks.
#11. Practice Morning Meditation
Meditation is the centerpiece of a practicing mindfulness exercises.
It does not take a genius to understand that practicing mediation at some time during your day is going to be an important part of your mindfulness routine.
Taking time to meditate for just ten minutes a day will support all of your other daily mindfulness habits, as meditation is a form of strength training for your mind.
The purpose of meditation is to observe the patterns and habits of your mind and learn to tame the incessant chattering of your thoughts. With practice, you’ll gain more and more control over your thoughts, rather than your thoughts controlling you and your emotions.
#12. Write in a Journal (or with “Morning Pages”)
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.
Working through Morning Pages for ten minutes is an excellent mindfulness habit because you completely focus on putting your thoughts onto paper. It’s a way to liberate your mind from the mental chatter that can set your morning off to a negative or anxious start.
#13. Read Inspirational Content
Rather than beginning your day with information overload, like checking your email or turning on the television, you can choose to read uplifting, inspiring, and positive books or articles.
An important part of being a mindful person includes challenging your own beliefs and assumptions and reading the ideas and perspectives of others in order to stretch yourself. This requires a proactive decision to read books that uplift and educate you and support your values, goals, and passions.
#14. Set a Daily Intention
Think about the difference between the following two statements:
1. I plan to finish my project by 3:00 today.
2. I intend to finish my project by 3:00 today.
Which statement is more powerful? Which one makes you believe that the person making the statement is more likely to follow through?
Of course, to intend to do something has more potency than to plan to do it. Intention implies determination, will, and resolve. There’s a boldness to an intention that a plan can never muster.
When you set a daily intention, you resolve to make it happen, come hell or high water. You are determined to prioritize this action or mind-set to the exclusion of other activities in order to assure you make it happen.
Intentions give you a sense of purpose, as well as the inspiration and motivation to achieve your purpose.
#15. Define Three Daily Goals
Why three goals?
Because three is a manageable number.
Rather than writing a to-do list of twenty or more items, make it simple. Narrow your list to the top three that you know with certainty you can achieve during the day. You can always do more, as long as you achieve your top three.
Having just three goals also allows you the time and mental energy to focus on them mindfully and thoroughly, without pressure to rush through each action in order to get to the next one. Taking your time with each goal allows you to enjoy the process of completing them.
#16. Visualize Your Daily Goals
Visualization doesn’t just enhance athletic performance. It can be used in daily life to relieve stress and performance anxiety, enhance preparation, and add more power to your physical and mental efforts.
Visualization has been shown to impact motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory, priming your brain for success in whatever you want to accomplish.
The simple act of visualizing, which requires mindfulness, focus, and creativity, frees the mind from mental chatter and negativity.
#17. Create a Tea or Coffee Ritual
Rather than stumbling to the coffee maker or teapot in a sleepy haze and slugging down that first cup, you can create a morning ritual around this daily habit.
This ritual doesn’t have to be limited to tea. You can also make a ritual of your morning coffee, as it can involve similar steps in preparation. But you don’t need to follow any ancient traditional ceremony to enjoy your own morning ritual. All you really need to do is slow down, pay attention, and savor.
#18. Eat Breakfast Mindfully
If you eat breakfast, even if it is something simple like a piece of toast or a cup of yogurt, then consider making breakfast a mindful activity.
Mindful eating involves both what you eat and how you eat it. Being mindful about your breakfast is a great way to reevaluate your food choices while slowing down enough to appreciate what you are eating. Eating healthy foods at breakfast can set the stage for smart food choices throughout your day.
#19. Be Present with Your Family
How many families in how many households around the world begin their days with little to no interaction with the people they hold most dear? What are we working so hard for anyway, if not to spend quality time with our loved ones?
Mindfulness habits in a family must be taught and modeled by at least one adult member of the family. You can be a role model for your spouse and your children on the importance of mindfulness, particularly in your relationships.
The best place to start is by showing them the power of being present, even for just a few minutes before you begin your work or school day.
#20. Practice Family Meditation
Practicing a ten-minute meditation with your children in the mornings not only helps them succeed in school, but it also provides another opportunity for closeness and presence within your family.
Teaching your children the skills to fend off negative thoughts and behaviors, improve focus, boost their confidence, and treat others and themselves with respect and compassion is a tool that will serve them for the rest of their lives. Sharing meditation with your kids will also reinforce your own practice.
#21. Connect with Nature
On a busy morning, the only time you might spend outside is the short walk from your house to your car. But taking a few minutes out of your morning routine to spend outside can have a profound effect on your mental and physical well-being.
Numerous studies have shown that spending time in nature can boost your immune system, relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve concentration and creativity, relieve stress, and improve your memory.
#22. Complete a 10-Minute Exercise Warm-Up
One reason we avoid exercise is the way we view it—as a means to an end rather than an enjoyable activity on its own. Exercise can easily become a mindfulness activity if you shift your thoughts about how you approach it.
If you see it as a way to connect with your body and become more aware of your own physical abilities, you can lessen some of your resistance to it. For many people, simply initiating exercise for just a few minutes is enough to get the ball rolling. Just beginning anything you mentally resist is 95% of the battle.
If you don’t have time for a full exercise routine in the morning, just devote ten minutes to moving and warming up your body to get your blood and energy flowing.
#23. Do a Sun Salutation Yoga Routine
Just like meditation, yoga has many styles of practices with different exercises, philosophies, and desired outcomes. Most practices include physical poses (asanas) designed to purify the body and provide physical strength and stamina.
Yoga works with the energy in the body, through pranayama or energy-control, as well as breath-control in order to still the mind and attain higher states of awareness.
There are so many possibilities for a short morning yoga practice, but we like the sun salutation (or surya namaskar in Sanskrit) as a way to begin the practice.
#24. Recite Positive Affirmations
As a mindfulness habit, affirmations are positive phrases that you repeat to yourself, describing who and how you want to be, using the present tense, as though the outcome has already occurred. Establishing a positive affirmation habit first thing in the morning can impact the outcome of your entire day.
Positive affirmations, when practiced deliberately and repeatedly, can reinforce chemical pathways in the brain, making the connection between two neurons stronger, and therefore more likely to conduct the same message again.
#25. Declutter One Space
Organizing your clutter is a path to healing emotional blocks and inner confusion. As you reclaim control over your stuff, you’ll feel better about yourself and have more positive energy.
That’s why adopting the habit of simplifying and organizing one space for ten minutes every day is such a powerful and life-changing endeavor. If you maintain this habit, you can simplify your entire house and create a calm, peaceful environment that reinforces your other mindfulness habits.
Mindfulness Exercises (habits)
#26. Practice Mindful Driving
If your morning routine involves driving to work, running errands, or taking your children to school, you know how “mindless” people can be in morning rush-hour traffic and how stressful driving in your car can be.
If you know that driving causes you to feel anger, stress, and anxiety, then you can change your viewpoint of this task by practicing mindfulness.
- When you get into your car, take a few deep breaths.
- Don’t turn on the radio or create other distractions while in the car. Turn your phone on silent.
- As you begin to drive, make an extra effort to notice your surroundings.
- If you get stuck in traffic or someone cuts you off, notice the feelings that arise (anger, frustration, anxiety, competitiveness), and simply identify them.
- Use traffic stops or other necessary stops to practice a few deep, calming breaths.
- Once you arrive at your destination, after you’ve turned off the engine, sit for a moment and take three deep breaths, really letting go on the exhalation.
#27. Practice Transition Breathing
How many times have you raced from your car into your office or work and immediately started doing something—checking emails, talking to coworkers, or jumping right into a project.
Of course it seems productive and diligent to get to work right away, but part of you is lagging behind, still processing the thoughts or feelings you carried in with you. Breathing helps to harness and quiet your thoughts. Allow yourself a mindful moment before you switch gears so you can approach your work in a more calm and centered way.
#28. Clear Your Desk
Visual clutter is distracting and agitating. It slows you down and makes you less productive. It impedes your creativity and clarity. It also sends a message to those around you that you are disorganized and scattered.
The act of clearing and organizing your desk allows you a few minutes of focused mindfulness, as you decide where to put your stuff and what to keep and throw away.
Once your desk is clear, you have set the stage for more mental and emotional energy and focus to begin your work.
#29. Focus on Your Work Purpose
Why do you work? Of course you work to earn money so you can pay the bills. But why do you work at your particular job?
Approach your work with love and purpose—no matter how challenging, uninspiring, or difficult it might be. To be mindful of the purpose of your work allows you to be more fully engaged with every task you perform.
Even if you hate your work, you can find a purpose for your efforts and reduce your feelings of negativity about your job and your life.
#30. Practice a Mindful Email Check-In
One of the more addictive behaviors we engage in is checking our email on our phones or computers. Most of us will check our inboxes dozens of times a day, and it’s a behavior that creates real stress and anxiety.
Breaking this bad habit and becoming more mindful about how you approach your email inbox will not only make you more productive and focused but will also allow you to be more conscious and less reactive to the variable rewards of email.
#31. Batch Your Tasks
Did you know that your mind prefers to organize by clumping small, related things into cohesive wholes?
Batching similar tasks, like doing all your writing in one sitting or handling all housekeeping tasks together, makes you more productive and focused. It also forces you to work longer so that you can enter a “flow state,” in which your work becomes easier and more mindful.
Grouping similar tasks that require similar resources will help streamline their completion and decrease stress and procrastination.
#32. Practice the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique breaks down work periods into 25-minute intervals (called Pomodoros) with a break between each interval.
The idea behind this technique is to increase productivity. You improve mental agility (and efficiency) by focusing intensely on a task for a short period of time. You then recharge your batteries by taking a quick break.
Even though this intense focus seems difficult, focus in any endeavor is definitely a mindfulness technique. It allows you to immerse yourself in your work with enough engagement that you get into the flow state we referenced earlier.
For those who have difficulty focusing, the Pomodoro Technique definitely helps you maintain presence with your work without tiring quickly or giving into distractions.
The Pomodoro Technique works in five basic steps:
1. Decide on the task to be done.
2. Set a timer to twenty-five minutes.
3. Work on the task until the timer rings. Record the Pomodoro in writing as a completed task.
4. Take a short break (5 minutes).
5. Work through four Pomodoros and take a longer break (15–20 minutes).
#33. Decrease Distractions
Each distraction enters our mind with one mission: harnessing control of our attention and resources.
We are so addicted to the immediate gratification of giving into distractions that our ability to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time has atrophied.
The solution is to become conscious of how mindfulness serves your goals and then to manage these distractions accordingly. You must push aside the fear of “missing out” and suffer with a bit of anxiety during times when your mindful attention is required or valuable.
#34. Practice Outcome-Directed Thinking
Often we delve into our work with a “Just get it done” mind-set. We plow through the tasks mindlessly, just so we can check the item off the to-do list and move on.
Rather than beginning a task in this state of numbed-out unconsciousness, take a few minutes to think about what you’d like to accomplish by practicing what’s called “outcome-directed thinking.”
When you focus your attention on a desired outcome rather than on perceived problems, you’ll see opportunities where others don’t and get through obstacles that may impede other people.
#35. Find Your Flow State
In his bestselling book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines flow as
“a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
Flow is the ultimate form mindfulness in action. You are completely engaged to the extent that all distractions fall away, and you are one with the task at hand. This is the state of mind you want to achieve with any focused effort you perform at work or in your personal life.
Mindfulness Exercises (habits)
#36. Practice “Slow Work”
A critical part of being present in the moment and finding a state of flow with your work is slowing down with everything you do. When you rush from one task to the next, trying to cram in as much effort as possible, you lose the sense of accomplishment that comes with the process.
Taking more time to thoroughly complete each task will ultimately make you more productive and successful.
Rather than racing to check everything off your list, make a conscious effort to slow down in all of your endeavors—whether it’s washing the dishes or completing a project at work.
I consider these to be fun mindfulness exercises. Because you are taking everyday work and making it something enjoyable, rather than just another block to tick off as "complete".
#37. Be Present with Peers
One of the common complaints people have about their jobs involves their interactions with a boss, client, or peer.
The pressure to perform coupled with personality differences creates an environment ripe for conflict and competition.
Civility, kindness, and compassion are often viewed as being incompatible with many work environments where “the bottom line” supersedes healthy communication.
You can contribute to a more emotionally intelligent work environment, as well as your own peace of mind, by being more present with the people you work with. Just a few minutes a day of being more present can make a huge difference in your satisfaction at work.
#38. Cultivate a Beginner’s Mind
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
- Shunryu Suzuki (Zen monk, author, and teacher)
What does it mean to cultivate a beginner’s mind? It means you develop a willingness to release preconceived notions about the way things should be based on your existing knowledge or beliefs.
In your work (and in life), having a beginner’s mindset allows you access to a heightened awareness of various options for success in any endeavor. Your mind is open to all possibilities.
With a beginner’s mindset, you temporarily suspend all of your opinions, knowledge, and strongly held beliefs so that you can explore an idea without mental limitations.
#39. Create Mindful Meetings
Do you work in an environment where you must regularly participate in meetings?
If so, then you probably know that meetings can be a big drain on your energy and productivity. Even so, some meetings are required for your position or volunteer activities. You may be responsible for leading meetings yourself, in addition to participating in meetings called by others.
Rather than thinking of meetings as a waste of time and energy, you can practice mindfulness before and during meetings to make them more valuable to you and other attendees.
Here is a list of five strategies you can use to get the most from each meeting that you attend.
1. Tune into your emotions before the meeting.
2. Encourage a beginner’s mindset.
3. Request mutual respect and acceptance.
4. Offer positive feedback.
5. Remain focused.
#40. Stand, Stretch, and Get Moving
Whether you work from home or in an office, working at a desk all day can cause you to tune out to the needs of your body. In fact, research links sitting for long periods (whether at work, in front of the TV, or in your car) with obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Even if you spend time every week at the gym or exercising, it doesn’t offset the negative impact of extended sitting. Studies show that your body can benefit from simply standing up, stretching your muscles, and moving around for a few minutes. Think of standing and stretching as pushing the reset button on your body.
When you are mindful of all the ways your body serves you, you’ll be more inclined to treat it respectfully, even in the midst of a busy workday.
#41. Take a Digital Break
When we feel overwhelmed at work, our first instinct is to turn to our devices as a source of comfort. This excessive connectivity also creates a false sense of urgency, as though we are missing something important if we are not constantly plugged in.
But mindfully stepping away from your digital devices for short periods of time during your day allows you to feel more focused and centered when you do plug back in.
Try to take two or three mini-digital breaks during your workday for about ten minutes each. Start with just one if that’s all you feel comfortable doing.
#42. Tune into Your Moods
Most people are so busy and distracted at work or during their daily activities that they don’t pay attention to their emotions.
They may notice stress, physical symptoms, or frustration, but they aren’t tuned in enough to consciously acknowledge their feelings or notice how their moods are impacting the quality of their work.
Even when we are aware of our shifting moods, we often don’t take the time to improve our moods to be more productive and positive. Maybe we don’t even know that it’s possible to impact our own mental state.
By taking just a few minutes to tune into your moods, evaluate your feelings, and work to change them, you can upgrade the quality of your work.
#43. Show Appreciation
In our busy and distracted lives, it’s easy to neglect showing appreciation to the people we work or interact with on a daily basis. We are so consumed with our own thoughts, tasks, and obligations that we are unconscious of the many ways others support and help us.
Taking the time to express appreciation shows that you are fully present with the other person and tuned into their essential worthiness and their humanity. When you take the simple action of expressing appreciation, others will be drawn to you like a magnet, and their respect for you will grow.
#44. Practice Strategic Acceptance
Our first reaction when things don’t go our way is to push back and try to set things back on course. We try to fix it. That’s a productive reaction if change is possible, but many times a setback simply is what it is. There’s nothing you can do to change the outcome or make things better.
So our next reaction is to fall into the catastrophic thinking loop, believing the setback or disappointment is far worse than it really is.
By practicing strategic acceptance, both about the negative situation and your reaction to it, you can find peace in moving forward in spite of the unexpected event.
As you take a few mindful moments to acknowledge your feelings, you clear the way for finding solutions, moving in a new direction, or simply letting go.
#45. Be an Objective Advisor
When you’re caught up in the details of an issue, it’s hard to have the clarity to untangle the problem or to take the best next steps. Every choice feels fraught with potential negative consequences, and your emotions may be so overwhelming that you can’t think clearly.
Getting outside feedback and advice can be helpful, but the best place to begin looking for solutions is within yourself. You need to be your own coach or advisor, tapping into your inner wisdom and intuition to lead you to the best course of action.
#46. Brainstorm with Mind Maps
A mind map is a diagram that connects ideas and information around a central topic or problem. It is like a tree with many extending branches. In the center is the main idea, and the branches are the subtopics that you brainstorm related to this central topic.
Using a mind map, rather than a more linear note-taking process, supports your mindfulness efforts in many ways. Because you use words, images, numbers, and color, a mind map is six times better in helping you retain information than by words alone.
Mind mapping also encourages linking or grouping concepts through natural associations that arise during the mapping process. This helps you come up with more ideas and find deeper meanings related to your topic.
#47. Take a Music Break
Listening to music is a powerful mindfulness habit that can reduce stress, elevate your mood, raise your IQ, and offer many other mental and physical health benefits.
Taking a break to actively listen to music for a few minutes during your day can help you return to your work in a more positive, peaceful, and productive frame of mind. In fact, listening to music—especially classical music—can change your brain in ways that improve memory and learning.
#48. Cultivate Humility
When you are humble, you are grounded in yourself with enough self-assurance and poise that you don’t need to show off, act defensive, or toot your own horn.
When you practice humility, you intentionally let go of self-aggrandizing behaviors and thoughts that put you in a “me first” frame of mind. Working toward humility is a growth experience in which you no longer need to see yourself above others—nor do you put yourself below them.
You have a sense of confident neutrality about who you are as compared to others. You view your own strengths and weaknesses accurately, and you recognize that everyone has intrinsic value, even those who appear “beneath” you in some way.
#49. Practice a Growth Mindset
Those with a fixed mindset believe their intelligence, qualities, and abilities are set in stone, but they have an urgency to prove those qualities over and over. The main goal is to appear smart, capable, and to avoid failure at all costs. When these people do fail, they view it as a direct measure of their competence and self-worth.
With a growth mindset, you believe change is possible and even necessary. You don’t view failures as the end of the world—you see them as opportunities for learning. You are comfortable with taking risks, and you even seek out calculated risk opportunities.
You want to challenge yourself to try something harder, stretch beyond your perceived limitations, and go for things others might not think you’re capable of achieving.
#50. Notice Your Body Language
Effective and mindful communication involves more than your mouth and your ears. It involves your entire body.
What you do with your body and your facial expressions communicates to other people your true feelings and intentions more than words do. Our body language doesn’t just impact the way others perceive us. It can change the way we feel about ourselves.
When you are mindful of your own non-verbal cues, you can change the way others see you and the way you feel about yourself. It only makes sense to focus attention on how you present body language to the world, what you communicate with it, and how your movements and expressions make you feel about yourself.
#51. Take a Laughter Recess
Life in general often feels very serious. But taking time in your day for a dose of laughter is a mindfulness habit that is well worth your effort.
Mindfulness doesn’t always require focused attention and a disciplined mind. The best kind of present moment awareness is the kind that occurs spontaneously—with a belly laugh attached.
By taking a laughter recess during your day, you give yourself a mental escape that transports you to a higher place where you can enjoy your day from a more relaxed, positive, and joyful perspective.
#52. Practice a Loving-Kindness Meditation
One of the best ways to protect yourself from the pain of difficult interactions with others is through the practice of a loving-kindness meditation. Loving-kindness can be defined as non-judgmental, compassionate acceptance and awareness of ourselves and others.
When you practice a loving-kindness meditation, you should have no expectations of anything in return. This meditation is an exercise in unconditional love, something you develop through the daily meditative practice.
It can help you feel more present with others, develop more empathy, and be less reactive to the negative moods of those around you.
#53. Use ABC Method with Distractions and Interruptions
Distractions are an inevitable part of your day. Even if you attempt to reduce potential distractions, your thoughts, emotions, and unexpected interruptions can pull you away from what you are doing and disrupt your flow.
However, you can teach your brain to automatically stop distractions from throwing you off track and hijacking your focus using a simple mindfulness technique call the ABC method.
When you notice a distraction, begin with the “A” of the ABC Method.
“A” represents awareness. This allows you to pause whatever you’re doing at the moment and recognize the distraction. You might say to yourself, “Here is a distraction, and I have a choice to make.”
“B” stands for breathing deeply and reflecting on your options. Do you want to deal with the distraction or interruption right now or dismiss it?
“C” stands for choosing mindfully how you want to handle the distraction. If you choose to dismiss it, you simply refocus your attention on the task at hand. If you decide to address the distraction or interruption, you are doing so consciously, rather than automatically allowing it to derail you.
Mindfulness Exercises (habits)
#54. Mindfully End Your Workday
By the end of your workday, you might feel like you need to peel yourself off the floor, drag yourself to the car, and mindlessly make your way home before one more email hits your inbox or one more person asks you to do something.
But if you can mindfully bring your workday to completion, you free your mind to transition more easily to your evening routine, and you set yourself up for a more productive and peaceful start to the next day.
Taking just ten minutes to close up shop and prepare for tomorrow will give you a sense of renewal that you can carry with you out the door.
#55. Take a Mental Mini-Vacation
As your workday (or your day as a student, parent, or homemaker) comes to a close, your body and mind have accumulated a lot of stress. You may feel exhausted and mentally drained. Even on the best days, you are faced with small challenges, decisions, and aggravations that deplete you.
It’s not uncommon to carry that agitation home with you if you don’t create a peaceful transition from the demands of your day to the start of your evening.
Create a mindful transition from your workday to your home life using a simple visualization practice—a mental vacation. By visualizing your perfect relaxation spot, you can put yourself in a calm, restful, and happy state of mind that allows you to move on peacefully to your next responsibilities.
#56. Give Yourself a Mindfulness Massage
By paying attention to your body and noticing where you feel discomfort, you can address both the pain, as well as the source of the stress that caused it.
Massage therapy is one of the best-known treatments for muscle tension. It gets directly to the muscle tissue, allowing the muscle to release its contraction and ease the pain.
It also induces the “relaxation response” in which your heart rate slows, your blood pressure decreases, and you produce less of the stress hormones. Finally, massage can improve blood circulation and reduce nerve compression.
#57. Reconnect with Your Relationships
When all else falls away, our relationships are one of the few things that really matter. Nurturing these important relationships requires your mindful daily attention. Your spouse (or partner), children, family, and friends need your time and presence, and you need theirs to truly feel fulfilled in life.
One of the obvious times to reconnect with your loved ones is at the end of the day when your family is in the home together again. By carving out “reconnection time” with your family members, you take charge of your happiness and emotional well-being. You are strengthening bonds that will allow you to look back on your life with gratitude rather than regret.
#58. Practice Walking Meditation
A walking meditation requires engaging all your senses. You are intentionally aware of your feet hitting the ground, your eyes taking in the sights around you, your lungs breathing the air in and out, and your ears hearing every sound.
It’s a practice that allows you to be more connected with the environment, which is an essential part of who we are. Being in nature releases you from the ongoing internal dialogue of your mind and makes you more aware of the beauty of the outdoors.
By combining walking with mindfulness, you are practicing an excellent habit for releasing the stress of the day so you can transition to your evening activities in a more harmonious frame of mind.
#59. Create a Dinner Ritual
Creating a ritual around the evening meal is an ideal mindfulness habit to establish with your family. It blends all of these benefits into an occasion that is celebrated nightly but can yield a lifetime of memories and closeness for you and your children.
A dinner ritual reconnects your family each evening in a powerful way, helping each member focus on celebrating your familial love. It offers a sacred respite from the pressures of work, school, and life in general, especially if you reinforce that the dinner table is an inviolable space where negativity and distractions are not allowed.
#60. Wash Dishes Mindfully
Not many people savor the effort of washing dishes, especially doing them by hand without a dishwasher. However, dishwashing is a mindfulness habit that is far underrated. In fact, a recent study showed that washing dishes can significantly lower stress levels if the effort is done mindfully.
Mundane chores that require little concentration can be used as a time of respite from your looping and stress-filled thoughts—if the chore is done mindfully. Doing this task slowly and mindfully allows you to appreciate simple pleasures and see the beauty in everyday efforts that are a necessary part of life.
You may not want to hand wash dishes every night, but creating a mindfulness habit around this task (with or without a dishwasher) will not only enhance the experience, but it will also inspire you to continue in a state of mindfulness for the rest of your evening.
#61. Create a Task Ritual
Instead of just “getting the job done,” you can ritualize your tasks, transforming them from menial dreaded chores to sacred moments of love and attention. Says Zen teacher and writer Karen Maezen Miller, “Your own attention is what spiritualizes things. Attention to the meal you cook, the clothes you wash. Attention is love. And that’s transformative.”
This act of paying attention while completing chores is a way of practicing “zazen” where you lose the conscious mind through repetitive action.
The more you practice zazen by focusing on the task at hand, the easier it becomes and the more contentment and peace you will feel. With practice, your chores will take on deeper purpose, and over time you will find even the most menial tasks worthwhile.
#62. Engage in Handwork
Handwork is any kind of work or hobby that involves using your hands and some level of concentration. A few examples of handwork might be knitting, needlework, embroidery, weaving, crochet, beading, origami, mosaic art, wirework, whittling, soap carving, quilting, bookmaking, and calligraphy.
Through the practice of handwork, you develop a connection between the sensorial experience, mental focus, and the act of creation. The focus required isn’t so complex that it’s overly challenging. On the contrary, these activities can be deeply relaxing and fulfilling.
#63. Give Yourself a Break from Television
Heavy television users report feeling less happy and more anxious than light users.
When you wean back on your television consumption, you are also compelled to be more mindful about what you do watch. Some television is engaging and educational, but the average haphazard TV diet contains way too much junk.
Rather than just turning on the set and watching whatever happens to be on, you can make thoughtful choices that align with your values.
#64. Develop a Mindful Parenting Plan
Mindful parenting isn’t just a positive catchphrase. Children who experience this form of parent have distinct advantages like avoiding depression, anxiety, acting out, and drug use.
In fact, a University of Vermont study looked at how mindful and positive parenting impacted the well-being of the children involved in the study. They defined mindful parenting as how attentive, non-judging, and non-reacting the parents were in interactions with their children.
Positive parenting includes actions like expressing unconditional love and setting limits versus using harsh physical punishments.
If this style of parenting appeals to you, then taking ten minutes to develop a mindful parenting plan will not only serve your children’s well-being, but it will also make your relationship with your child more conscious, connected, and intentional.
#65. Tame Your Longings and Cravings
The more we give in to our longings and cravings, the more power they have over us. They keep us agitated, anxious, and frustrated. When our desires aren’t fulfilled, when we can’t have what we want, we loop our disappointments over and over in our minds, which intensifies our unhappy feelings.
Taking ten minutes in the evening to examine your longings and cravings can set you on the path to releasing them. As you let go of your grip on “what isn’t,” you will discover a liberating sense of gratitude for what you do have in this moment. Life becomes easier and more peaceful.
#66. Mindfully Review Your Day
If the idea of living mindfully is intriguing to you, then it’s important to watch your progress, see what is working for you and what isn’t, and challenge yourself to build your “mindfulness muscle” each and every day.
You’ve heard the saying, “What gets measured gets done,” and that is true for the practice of mindfulness as much as any endeavor. Developing daily mindfulness habits takes patience, persistence, and commitment. But seeing your own progress and how these habits are impacting your state of mind will give you the motivation and desire to stick with it.
#67. Plan for Tomorrow
Planning the next day on the night before not only saves you time in the morning, but it also gives you the opportunity to use what you just learned from the daily review.
You may be tempted to skip this habit because you want to relax in the evening, but taking just ten minutes to think about your goals and plans for tomorrow will give you a leg up on a potentially hectic morning.
The planning itself can be a mindfulness exercise, as can complete some of your morning readiness tasks the night before. Making your life calmer, simpler, and more streamlined supports all your mindfulness efforts, helping you focus on what’s most important rather than reacting to whatever comes your way.
#68. Practice a “Shut Down” Ritual
Your actions in the hour before bedtime can make or break your ability to fall asleep quickly and impact the quality of your sleep. That’s why we suggest a mindfulness habit of creating a soothing, sleep-inducing ritual before pulling up the covers and turning out the light.
Optimally, you would begin this ritual thirty minutes to an hour before bed. But you can begin by backing up your evening schedule by ten or fifteen minutes to set up a transition time that is relaxing. You can continue to add time to this habit by cutting out some of your evening activities that hinder your sleep.
#69. Evening Gratitude Journaling
By the time you’re ready for bed, it has been a long day. Even if you’ve been consciously mindful over the past sixteen hours, you probably have accumulated some stress or even have experienced a few unresolved issues.
If you keep a gratitude journal that you write in before bedtime, you can do wonders for improving your sleep. For instance, one study found this habit decreased depression, and another one discovered that showing evening gratitude increased optimism, sleep quality, and overall health and lowered blood pressure.
So if you want to have an easier night’s sleep, with better sleep quality, please consider an evening gratitude journaling session.
#70. Use Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses the essential oils from plants to affect both your physical and mental well-being.
Our sense of smell is one of our most powerful senses.
Scent can evoke vivid and realistic memories. When we smell good things, we feel better. And when we smell bad things, these sensations conjure up negative emotions (and often give us painful reminders of the past).
Scent is a powerhouse, and aromatherapy is based on surrounding yourself with pleasant fragrances.
Finding a scent you enjoy will increase your overall happiness. It will reduce your stress, calm you down, and create a relaxing atmosphere.
Now, if you want to build an aromatherapy mindfulness habit, the simplest way to do it is in the evening, right before going to bed.
#71. Practice Guided Sleep Meditation
Guided meditation is an excellent mindfulness habit to help you relax and go to sleep. With guided meditation, you are eased into a meditative state by a person who has recorded a meditation sequence.
This guide will walk you through the process step by step, so that you don’t have to do any of the mental work (except following instructions). You can simply listen, let go, and relax into sleep.
As you listen to the guide and follow the relaxation and sleep-inducing instructions, you will be less focused on your own thoughts and worries—thoughts that can keep you from falling asleep. The soothing effects of guided sleep meditations often result in you falling asleep before the meditation is over.
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