Mindfulness goes far beyond simple meditation. There are so many other ways it can be practiced, and with more people opening up about their struggles with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges, mindfulness is gaining popularity as a way reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance sleep. It is also used to treat health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic pain, and gastrointestinal problems. If you’re looking for mindfulness activities for women that go above and beyond yoga and meditation, we’re sharing 16 of our favorites below!
What Is Mindfulness?
Many people find the concept of mindfulness to be a bit obscure and hard to describe, but if I had to define it in simple terms, I would characterize it as our innate ability to be fully present in the moment – to focus on where we are and what we’re doing without allowing other, intrusive thoughts, worries, or fears to permeate our minds. When we’re practicing mindfulness, we’re impartial and non-judgmental to what’s happening around us, and when our minds wander, we redirect our thoughts back to the present moment.
Mindfulness sounds pretty simple in theory, but we live in a day and age where we are encouraged to over-schedule ourselves as much as possible, and it can be surprisingly difficult to focus on the here and now without letting all of the things that are vying for our attention to take hold and send us into a stress-induced state. When we take the time to learn the art of mindfulness, the benefits can be pretty staggering.
What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
- Reduces feelings of stress
- Helps treat mental health challenges, including anxiety disorders, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Allows you to be more present and engaged
- Decreases stress and worry about past/future
- Improves focus and concentration
- Can lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, decrease gastrointestinal problems
- Improves quality of sleep
- …and more!
How to Get Started with Mindfulness
- Start small. Remember that mindfulness doesn’t need to be a long and elaborate affair, and you are more likely to remain committed to adding mindfulness to your daily routine if you start small. Begin by committing to 5 minutes per day and build from there.
- Have an open mind. Starting your own daily mindfulness practice can feel a bit strange at first, but try to keep an open mind. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this concept, and experiment with different mindfulness activities until you find something that resonates most with you.
- Make it a habit. Allocate time each day to practice mindfulness, and make sure to choose a time that works best with your schedule – first thing in the morning, after work, before dinner, or at bedtime – and then make it a habit. The more consistent you are the more benefits you’ll see!
- Get moving. Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness activities aren’t all about sitting quietly with your eyes closed while meditating. There are lots of mindfulness exercises that involve movement, so you can pick and choose activities based on your needs.
- Be patient. And don’t expect a miracle. Mindfulness can be extremely beneficial, but remember that change takes time and it’s unlikely that you will see an overnight transformation in yourself when you first start experimenting with different mindfulness activities. As with most things, consistency is key!
16 Mindfulness Activities You Actually Have Time For
1. MINDFUL BREATHING
If you’re searching for mindfulness activities, you’ve probably heard of mindful breathing. It’s one of the most common breathing techniques for stress and anxiety, but it’s not always easy for everyone. It does take practice, but when you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to do it with ease. To get started, find a chair to sit down in and put your arms on the armrests. Take a deep breath in through your nose, lasting for about 5 seconds, hold your breath for 3 seconds, and then breathe out through your mouth for 7 seconds. Repeat 10 times, and as you get more comfortable, you can repeat up to 20 times.
Adult coloring books gained popularity a few years ago, and for good reason. Coloring relaxes the brain and is a great stress-reducing activity you can use to help keep your thoughts in the present moment. It’s extremely portable, making it a good option for lunch breaks, while traveling, when waiting in doctor’s offices, etc., and there are tons of great coloring apps you can use with your smartphone or tablet.
3. JIGSAW PUZZLES
If coloring isn’t your thing but you like the idea of having an activity you can enjoy either independently or with your family at the end of the day to unwind, jigsaw puzzles are a great idea to consider (this ‘Things I Ate as a Kid’ puzzle is a great one!). My mom and sister were always working on a puzzle when I was growing up, and once the puzzle mat was invented, it made it easy to store during the day.
4. GUIDED MEDITATION
A list of mindfulness activities for women wouldn’t be complete without guided meditation! There are lots of apps you can download to guide you, but if you’re looking for mindfulness activities that allow you to completely unplug, I highly recommend the book, Practicing Mindfulness by Matthew Sockolov. It contains 75 guided meditations that take between 5-20 minutes, along with practical advice to help you stay focused and get the most out of your meditation sessions.
One of my favorite mindfulness activities is to take a few minutes each morning to write down 5 things you’re grateful for. These don’t need to be huge, but you do need to be intentional as you think through and write down the items you’re most thankful for. Your morning cup of coffee, the extra snuggles you enjoyed with your kids, or an upcoming date night with your significant other are all examples of small but meaningful things that can add a huge amount of joy to your life.
Yoga for stress isn’t anything new. Some of the benefits of yoga include mental wellness, relaxation, improved respiration, and a lowered heart rate, so it’s no surprise that many people use yoga as a way to practice mindfulness. You can even use yoga for anxiety and depression as it helps calm you, slow your mind and keep overwhelming thoughts at bay. Whether you attend yoga classes at a studio, or stream them for free via YouTube from the comfort of your own home, you will feel more grounded and centered during and after your session!
7. DEVELOP AN EVENING ROUTINE
If you’re on the hunt for mindfulness activities for women that don’t take up a ton of time but leave you feeling as though you’ve indulged in a little TLC, there are tons of little things you can do from the comfort of your home each day. Paint your nails, shape your eyebrows, repair damaged locks with a hydrating hair mask, or try out a sheet mask.
8. RECITE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS
Positive affirmations – a practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment – are another simple and effective mindfulness activity you can use absolutely anywhere. They are short and simple phrases that can help you overcome negative, self-sabotaging thoughts and replace them with positive, self-affirming beliefs. In order to be successful, positive affirmations must be present-tense statements. Instead of saying ‘I will…’, say ‘I am…’, and repeat your positive phrase of choice over and over until you start to believe it! CLICK HERE for our favorite positive affirmations for women!
For those who enjoy writing, journaling is another one of my favorite mindfulness activities. Writing in a journal provides a great outlet, helps promote a sense of calm, provides perspective, and can help identify triggers and patterns as well as provide solutions. It also forces you to focus only on the topic you are writing about, which is a great way to stay centered and in the moment. We’ve written a whole post about journaling for emotional well-being, including our favorite guided journals and journal prompts, which you can read HERE.
10. ORGANIZE SOMETHING
A great way to practice mindfulness when you don’t have the ability to leave the house or office is to organize something. It helps promote a greater sense of control, which in turn will help you feel less stressed and anxious. Consider listening to music or an inspiring podcast, or reciting positive affirmations while you organize to keep your mind from dwelling about the past or worrying about the future.
11. TRADE MASSAGES WITH YOUR PARTNER
If you’re looking for mindfulness activities you can enjoy with your significant other, consider trading massages with one another. It’s a great way to connect as a couple, and as long as you keep the conversation light and concentrate on the smell of the massage oils you’re using and the massage itself, it is a great way to keep your mind focused and in the moment.
12. LISTEN TO A PODCAST
There are so many great, inspirational podcasts you can stream to help you in your mindfulness journey. I like to listen to podcasts while I’m doing mindless household chores like laundry, cooking, doing the dishes, or organizing closets and cupboards. I have a hard time preventing myself from ruminating over the past or worrying about the future when engaging in these activities, and find they help keep my mind focused and centered. I’m a huge fan of the RISE and Goal Digger podcasts!
13. GET OUTSIDE
If you’re looking for mindfulness activities for women, finding ways to get outside is another great option to consider. Whether it’s going for a run first thing in the morning, enjoying a cup of tea on your front porch after work, or going for a walk around your neighborhood after dinner, there are heaps of ways you can enjoy the great outdoors, and the fresh air will do wonders for your soul. This is a great mindfulness activity you can enjoy with your family!
I recently injured my Achilles tendon and endured 4+ months of physiotherapy to help with my recovery, which required me to do 10-minutes of stretches 2 times a day. It was a real drag at first, but over time I came to look forward to the forced breaks. And since the stretches were challenging and I had to either pay attention to a timer or count repetitions while doing them, it was a great way to clear my mind and just focus on how my body was feeling. My physiotherapist told me I was free to start tapering off of them over a month ago, but I still do a complete stretching session at least once per day as I find it so relaxing. If you suffer from sore, tense muscles from sitting or standing all day, search for some stretches you can do to calm your body and mind.
15. TAKE UP A HOBBY
Whether it’s blogging, photography, baking, or a home renovation project, find something you’re passionate about and make time for it! It will do wonders for your soul, and will help you stay focused and in the present rather than worrying about the past and/or future.
16. RELAX IN THE TUB
Whenever I ask my mom friends what their favorite self-care rituals are, the most common answer I get is a hot bubble bath with candles and wine after a difficult day with the kids. If you’re looking for mindfulness activities that are easy to fit into your schedule, this is a great way to start and/or end your week!
I hope this collection of mindfulness activities inspires you to find new and creative ways to remain focused and centered without allowing intrusive thoughts, worries, or fears to permeate your mind. Remember to have an open mind, start small, be patient, and be consistent.