How often do we race through our days without noticing the little things—like the smile on our child’s face as they eat their pancakes, the scent of our coffee brewing, or the way a thoughtful text from a friend makes us feel. The busyness of life can move us from intentionally living out our days to reacting as work, life, frustrations, and obstacles pop up. Injecting our lives with more mindfulness is quite simple and can be practiced anywhere, at any time. It mostly just takes awareness and intention around slowing down and actively engaging our senses.
Put simply, mindfulness is when you focus on your senses and feelings in any given moment. Practicing mindfulness allows your body and mind to relax and over time, builds a better stress response.
If you want to bring more mindfulness into your life, we’ve listed 20 ideas to help you move into a more intentional space. Of course, you don’t have to do them all, but picking even one to try can help your day flow better and feel more aligned with how you want it to go.
1. Take a pause between tasks.
Simply pause before moving to the next action. This looks like: letting the phone ring one or two more times before answering, feeling the handle of your door before unlocking and opening it at the end of the day, smelling your morning coffee before taking that first sip. Taking these small breaks and pauses allows you to clear your mind, connect with the present and give you purpose and energy before diving into the task at hand.
2. Bring joy to your daily activities, like cooking, cleaning, and getting ready for the day.
If you’re cooking, cook mindfully by paying attention to the different processes, such as chopping, stirring, opening containers, pouring, lifting, and serving. Instead of rushing through making your bed, enjoy the whoosh of air as you fluff the sheets out and the softness of the blankets when you tuck them into place. As you clean up your little one’s dinner mess, take a moment to smile at them and connect as you gently wipe their messy face and pick up the dropped crumbs.
3. Get outside to ground.
Slip off your shoes and socks and pay attention to the connection between your feet and the solid ground beneath you. Grounding boasts so many benefits, let alone the quiet and calm connectivity that time in nature offers.
4. Practice gratitude.
Whether you start a gratitude journal or just take a few moments each day to notice a few things you’re grateful for. Gratitude pulls your awareness to the good in the present moment.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
– Melody Beattie
6. Be present with your meals.
If you do nothing else, take a deep breath before starting to eat. This automatically puts you in a state of rest and digest (which is much better for your overall digestion!). Notice how the food tastes, actually chew your food, and pay attention to when your hunger starts to subside and feelings of fullness start to arise. Avoid multitasking and simply enjoy your food!
7. Take stock of your self-talk.
Notice the stories you’re telling yourself. Sometimes we roll through our day without noticing the way we’re talking to ourselves. Are the stories true? Realistic? Are they how you would talk to a friend or loved one? If not, spend time focusing on how you can shift to be more encouraging and gentle with yourself.
8. Create a wind-down ritual.
Rather than rushing through your bedtime routine and hopping into bed, bring awareness to your nighttime routine. Maybe light a candle, dim the lights, and move through with intention. As you climb into bed what do you notice? Is it warm? Cool? Relaxing? How do the sheets feel?
There are so many amazing journal prompts out there if you don’t know where to start. You can sit and write down everything you notice around you, things you’re grateful for, or even just everything you want to accomplish that week and how you want to feel.
10. Buy yourself some flowers.
It seems simple, but bringing nature inside is a great way to help you slow down, and take a moment to appreciate their shape and color whenever they catch your eye. We also love styling decorative branches, too.
11. Devote time to doing nothing.
We can hyper schedule ourselves, which leaves little time for life to flex and flow as needed. Without space, we usually rush from task to task, from one to-do list to the next without being present. Try to schedule a 20 minute break between meetings and don’t plan any set thing for that time. Schedule an hour into your Friday afternoon and let it fill itself, whether that’s a board game with your kids, answering emails, or taking an afternoon bath. Try to have some portion—whether short or long—of every day with nothing planned.
12. Engage your senses.
Close your eyes and listen to all the sounds around you. Take a deep breath and see what scents pop up. Connect with your present moment by engaging your senses, when they might usually be on autopilot. This is a great practice to do when you’re feeling stress creep into your day and need a reset.
13. Take yourself on a date.
Taking time out of your week just to be present with you can be a game-changer. It can take you off of autopilot and give you an opportunity to slow down, and maybe experience something new.
14. Only say yes to things you actually want to do.
Your time is valuable, and it’s so easy to say yes, even when you want to say no. Practice mindfulness with your boundaries and only say yes when you genuinely want to.
15. Acknowledge how you’re feeling.
At any moment throughout your day, ask yourself how you’re feeling right now (without labeling the feeling as good or bad!). You can either spend some time thinking through that feeling and the cause of that feeling, or simply be aware and move on with your day.
16. Check in with your body.
The body usually functions without needing much from you—your heart beats, your lungs take in and release air, and your organs usually hum along regardless of how much attention you give it. Still those sensations are there and your body benefits when you notice it. Take a moment to check in. Where are you holding tension? Are there any aches that you notice? How is your heartbeat, slow or fast?
17. Give someone you love a hug.
Aim for five to eight seconds and think of how cared for you are and how thankful you are for that person
18. Walk mindfully.
Nature is always healing, but it can be easy to bog down your walks with a podcast, scrolling, or answering emails on your phone. Instead, turn your phone on airplane mode, maybe skip the headphones, and focus on what’s around you. Do you see trees? Water or skyscrapers? Notice the traffic driving by, the wind in your hair, the cloud patterns, and the people walking by.
19. Avoid the urge to scroll.
Scrolling social media is usually anything but mindful. Try to bring awareness to when the urge arises and actively choose another activity. If you do spend time on social media, make it a conscious choice, rather than a reflexive one.
20. Truly connect on social media.
If you are going to spend time on social media, make it more meaningful by leaving a thoughtful comment or DM, or spending time truly enjoying an inspiring account.
21. Stop rushing.
Does anyone else feel the frustration build as you unexpectedly get stuck in traffic or find yourself in a long line? The reality is, there’s not much you can do in those situations so why not release that pressure. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’ll get to where you’re going as soon as you’re able.