Crystal Hoshaw is a mother, writer, and longtime yoga practitioner. She has taught in private studios, gyms, and in one-on-one settings in Los Angeles, Thailand, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The practice of mindfulness is gaining popularity as a way to ease stress, soothe anxiety, and be more present and engaged in life.
Good news: Incorporating mindfulness activities into your routine can be incredibly simple, no matter what your age.
With a little forethought, almost everything you do can become an opportunity for mindfulness, whether you’re an adult, a teen, or a child.
The everyday mindfulness activities below offer plenty of opportunities to slow down, get present, and be more aware of yourself and your surroundings.
One of the most common and well-known mindfulness activities for adults is meditation. While it may seem esoteric or inaccessible, meditation can actually be very simple.
These exercises are meant to transform everyday experiences into mindful moments.
Walking meditation is exactly what it sounds like: a form of meditation you practice while walking, often in a straight line or circle.
You can do it almost anywhere, whether you’re walking to work, taking a stroll around the neighborhood, or hanging out with your kids at the park.
If you’re driving your car, you can engage with the process by focusing on the weight of the vehicle underneath you, the texture of the road you’re driving on, the sound of the tires against the gravel, even the shape and feel of the seat against your rear.
Then, you can send your focus out to scan your environment and become aware not only of other vehicles, lights, and pedestrians, but also of the terrain, foliage, and skyline. With practice, you may even become a better driver.
Keep your phone on silent, turn off the music, and save the makeup application for the parking lot.
You likely (correctly!) guessed that single-tasking is the opposite of multitasking. All it requires is showing up fully to whatever task you’re working on.
If you’re working on the computer, focus on one task at a time. As much as you may not want to, close all the browser tabs that aren’t relevant to the project you’re working on. This can help free up mental space and might even create laser-focus.
To deepen the practice, focus on:
- how you’re breathing
- how your body feels in your seat, or how your feet feel against the floor if you’re standing
- the sensation of the air or your clothes against your skin
- the structure and posture of your body
Mindful eating is a way to turn something you do every day into a mindfulness practice.
You can make mealtimes more mindful with a few basic mindful eating practices, like listening to the sizzle of your pan and chewing slowly to savor every bite.
Other mindful eating tips you might want to try:
- Try eating with your non-dominant hand.
- Eat the first few minutes of your meal in silence and focus on the flavors, aromas, and texture of your food.
- Turn off your TV and put your phone away while you eat.
As you do so, place your hand in the soil and feel its texture. Is it rough or fine? Is it damp or dry? Is it warm or cool? Allow yourself to enjoy the process as if you were a child playing.
Notice the weather — not through your mind, but through your sensations. Do you have goosebumps from a chill in the air, or is there sweat on your brow from the hot sun?
Notice any other forms of life around you, like a chattering squirrel or chirping bird. You’re likely to meet a worm or roly-poly in the soil, too.
The best way to introduce mindfulness to kids is to make it a game. That’s exactly what the below activities do.
Five sense scavenger hunt
Most kids love a scavenger hunt, and this one is specifically designed to encourage mindfulness by engaging all the senses.
All you need to do is provide a safe environment for exploration. Here are the steps for kids to follow:
- Listen. Name one thing that you hear when you listen with your ears.
- Look. Name one thing that catches your attention when you look around.
- Smell. Name a scent that you notice when you take a sniff with your nose.
- Touch. Name an object that you enjoy feeling with your hands.
If you want to add in the sense of taste, simply supply a few kid-friendly snacks, and ask kids to name flavors they enjoy, like sweet, salty, or sour.
Monkey see, monkey do
This is a great mindfulness game to help kids increase body awareness and think about how they move in space. As the adult, take on the role of the monkey, and lead the kids through different positions.
Try to shift your weight in unexpected ways, like standing on one foot, getting on all fours, or sticking one foot up in the air.
Ask the kids what it feels like to be in each position. Is it hard to balance, or does it give them a big stretch?
Let it be silly. When kids get moving, giggles will likely ensue. Just go with it. You can even ask the kids to pay attention to how their breath changes when they laugh.
Dragon breathing is a fun way to get kids to practice slow, deep breathing. The simple version doesn’t require any supplies, but you can incorporate a fun craft to really drive the lesson home.
To optimize the fun, you can read or make up a short story about dragons to get everyone’s imagination flowing. Some good options are “The Mindful Dragon,” “There’s a Dragon in Your Book,” and “Train Your Angry Dragon.”
- Instruct the kids to take a deep breath in, filling their belly and chest.
- When they’re ready, instruct them to “breath out their fire” with a long, slow exhale.
- If you have paper available, it can be extra fun to watch the paper blow as the kids breathe out. Just instruct them to hold it about 6 inches away from their mouths and let go as they exhale.
For the crafty version of dragon breathing, check out the instructions and video tutorial on One Little Project at a Time.
Bubbles are a classic activity for kids, and they make for a great mindfulness practice.
- First, ask the children to reflect on what they’re thinking or feeling. You can prompt them by giving examples like, “I feel tired” or “I want to eat lunch.”
- Demonstrate blowing your bubbles and figuratively putting your thoughts and feelings inside them. For instance, “I feel nervous. I’m going to put that feeling in a bubble and let it float away.”
- Point out how our thoughts and feelings are just like bubbles: They come up, and they drift away in the breeze. Sometimes they even pop.
This exercise can be especially useful for kids who have uncomfortable thoughts or feelings that they need help letting go of.
Sometimes, having little reminders can help kids practice mindfulness in difficult moments. This is another basic craft that provides kids with a tool to take with them in their day to day.
Help the kids reflect on activities that help them feel calm, like drinking water, taking breaths, closing their eyes, reading a book, or hugging a friend.
Then, ask them to draw pictures of these activities on separate cards. You can also provide them with printed pictures to paste.
If the kids can write, have them label the cards (if not, you can label for them). Hole-punch the cards and bind them together with a bit of yarn or a book ring.
Kids can use the cards whenever they’re feeling upset, angry, scared, or sad to help them regulate their emotions and feel better.
You can make your own cards, or try this printable version from Babies to Bookworms.