29 Quick Mindfulness Exercises for Busy People

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When you hear the word mindfulness, you might think of meditation or hour-long yoga sessions, however, quick mindfulness exercises can be incorporated into your daily routine without the need to pull the yoga mat out. The best part is, you don’t need much equipment to get started! All you need is a willingness to give these exercises a go. I personally don’t meditate much at all but I still try to practise quick mindfulness exercises when I can. I do them because it takes practice over time to be present and to be able to let go of your thoughts.

So what is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is simply the practice of observing your thoughts, without judgment. It’s the practice of being fully present in the current moment. It sounds simple enough, but mindfulness isn’t something that comes naturally to most people. In fact, it can be very difficult to practise mindfulness on a consistent basis because most of us are hyper-busy trying to fulfil our obligations with work, relationships and bills, for example.

Mindfulness is just the tool that allows you to reach the end goal which is being present, without judgement or thoughts of tomorrow. It’s about being okay being present.

Being present and living your current moment without the sadness of yesterday or the anxiety of tomorrow is true peace in my view.

Mindfulness > Becoming present > Peaceful mind

With that said, I’ve put together a list of quick mindfulness exercises that anyone can practice whether you’re a mindfulness pro or you’re new to mindfulness. You can do these mindfulness exercises whenever you feel like it and the best part is, many of them integrate not what you’re doing on a daily basis anyway.

Note: practising mindfulness exercises comes down to your ability to show self-
compassion and be non-judgemental towards your thoughts. This takes practice and 
it’s normal for your mind to wander from time to time. Just forgive yourself and 
try again!

1. Ditch your phone

Time to complete: 24 hours

It took me many years to realise that my phone was in full control of my attention. Whilst this may not sound like a mindfulness exercise, it’s probably one of the best quick mindfulness exercises you can do to be more present and connected with yourself. All you need to do is leave your phone on your side for the day and you’ll notice how much clearer your thoughts are. You’ll no doubt find yourself reaching for your phone out of habit so this mindful exercise takes a bit of practice.

If you ignore your phone for the day you’ll get used to not checking it so frequently and you’ll have more time for other mindfulness exercises and will feel more attached to the present moment.

2. Candle observation

Time to complete: 10 minutes

Another quick mindfulness exercise you can try is candle observation. All you need to do is light a candle in a quiet place, take a seat and observe. Look at how the candle flickers and hear how the flame crackles. Something as simple as observing a candle can be incredibly relaxing and calming. Like all the quick mindfulness exercises on this list, the key is to clear your mind and simply appreciate the element swaying in front of you.

If you find your mind wandering, don’t worry just observe your thoughts but don’t label them as good or bad. Let them come and go. Try this for 10 minutes and you’ll no doubt feel much more grounded.

3. Name three things

Time to complete: 5-10 minutes

This next mindfulness exercise aims to ground you in the present moment. This can be done by examining your surroundings. To complete this exercise, simply do the following in a calm environment. It can also help to take a look our your window;

  • name three things you can see
  • name three things you can hear
  • name three things you can feel

For example, you may see cars, trees and buildings out your window. You may hear the car’s engines, birds chirping and the sound of the wind. You may notice the windowsill under your hand, the cold glass and the coarse brick of the wall.

4. Setting intentions

Time to complete: 3 minutes

Instead of rolling out of bed mindlessly into your routine, try setting yourself some intentions for the day. This doesn’t have to take long at all. You can simply name three things you want or need to get done that day. Setting intentions for your day keeps you accountable and might increase your focus. Setting intentions also gives your day a sense of meaning in what might be just another typical Monday or Tuesday, for example.

As an example, you could look to read fifty pages of an interesting or positive book, do something nice for someone and clear up a mess you’ve been meaning to do for a long time.

5. Strawberry soothing

Time to complete: 10 minutes

Mindful eating or in this case, strawberry soothing is the practice of observing your food instead of throwing it down your neck! All you need to do is take a piece of fruit and spend some time slowly chewing it, noticing how the sweet and sharp flavours taste on your taste buds. Notice how the juices wash against your inner cheeks and pay attention to how your throat feels as the fruit slides down.

How does the fruit feel? How cold is it on your tongue? Can you picture where it grew and where it came from? Mindful eating brings your connection to your food back. Mindful eating helps you to appreciate the process of food growing and can bring about a sense of gratitude that you’re able to acquire foods to nourish your body with. If nothing else, mindful eating helps you to digest your food better the more you chew it and the slower you eat!

6. Body scan

Time to complete: 10 minutes

The body scan exercise is a popular mindfulness activity because it can bring awareness to the different sensations in your body. The idea is very simple; lay on your back or take a seat somewhere quiet. Begin by paying attention to your breathing. Then, bring about awareness to the different sensations in your head before moving down to your shoulders, arms, fingers, chest, legs and feet.

Notice how your body feels as you scan yourself. How do your clothes feel against your skin? Do they feel warm or cold? By scanning your body, you reconnect with your physical self whilst ending this quick mindfulness exercise feeling relaxed and grounded.

7. Thoughtful observation

Time to complete: 10-20 minutes

This is a great exercise that brings about a sense of calm and reflection. The quick mindfulness exercise requires you to find somewhere quiet to sit without distractions like your phone or TV making noises. I like to find a bench somewhere with a relaxing view like a seafront. Start by getting comfortable before taking in your surroundings. Pay attention to your thoughts but do not label them as positive or negative. Instead, notice them come and go freely. If they seem negative then try not to allow them to bring about a sense of sadness. Just see them for what they are and believe that they will come and then go away again.

In a sense, you’re simply observing without intervening by naming how you feel. You may experience long lost memories that evoke different emotions but just observe them.

8. Leaf study

Time to complete: 5 minutes

This quick mindfulness exercise will take you no more than 5 minutes and it’s a great exercise to do when the leaves are falling in the autumn. Simply take a leaf and study its shapes and how the veins feel under your fingers. Run your fingers over the edges to bring about a sense of connection with nature.

9. Mindful walking

Time to complete: 10-30 minutes

Mindful walking can be done almost anywhere that’s relatively peaceful. Ideally, you’d give mindful walking a go in a forest or some kind of natural setting. Count your breaths in and out for 3 seconds each time. Notice your colourful surroundings and feel how the ground feels beneath your feet as you take each step. What can you see? what can you hear? what can you smell?

Let go of your thoughts or what has weighed on you recently and just walk for the sake of walking without judgement or expectation. As you experience the different sights and sensations around you, you’ll feel a sense of peace you can’t get when you’re distracted in your typical settings.

10. Mindful stretching

Time to complete: 1 minute

Another one of our quick mindfulness exercises is mindful stretching. There’s a whole bunch of ways to do mindful stretching but this one is going to be not only the quickest but the one I think that is the most enjoyable. It is performed when you’re waking up which is when you’ll likely be stretching anyway.

Upon waking, keep your eyes closed and stretch your limbs out paying close attention to how your muscles and ligaments feel as you extend your arms and legs. Do a few cycles of this for at least one minute before you hop out of bed.

11. Mindful Colouring

Time to complete: 10+ minutes

Mindful colouring is a quick and cheerful mindfulness exercise. The benefits of colouring are many including improved focus, relaxation and the ability to get into a state of flow. Entering a state of flow goes hand in hand with mindfulness because it locks you into the present moment, free from the worries of the future or the pain of the past. When you colour, all you can think about is the task at hand.

Although it may sound silly to sit and colour for half an hour or so, it’s much like reading a book in silence. However, at the end of your exercise, you’ll have a beautiful creation to put on your wall.

12. Mindful driving

Time to complete: 20 minutes

A quick mindfulness exercise you can easily integrate into your day is mindful driving. Take a few deep breaths once you’re sat down in the driver’s seat. Feel the leather of the steering wheel on your hands and become aware of how your body feels. Notice the vibrations of the engine. Listen to the sounds of the car and any smells that arise. Make sure you continuously become aware of the feelings and senses around you as you press down on the pedal.

Mindful driving is a great way to ground yourself before you start work, for example.

13. Mindful listening

Time to complete: 10 minutes

It can be hard to sit and just listen sometimes. Quite often, I find myself thinking or worrying about other things and so conversations can be challenging. Mindful listening with a friend helps with this and increases focus and general listening skills. Without trying to interject, simply sit back and listen to their replies without judgement or your own opinions. Allow them to unload their thoughts to you as you give your friend your full attention. You’ll likely both feel better for the experience.

14. Mindfulness flashcards

Time to complete: once a day

Mindfulness flashcards can be a great way to remember to be mindful each day. All you have to do is print them off, laminate them, shuffle your pack and then select a card. No matter what card you get, commit yourself to do that mindful exercise. I designed the following mindfulness flashcards after I couldn’t find anything else like them online. If you’d like to download them and use them too, you can do so here.

15. Mindful clear up

Time to complete: 10-30 minutes

When your environment isn’t in order, it’s very difficult to concentrate when you have a big mess looming over you. Having a ‘mindful clear up’ is another quick mindfulness exercise to get you feeling engaged and progressive. There’s nothing quite like cleaning your environment to get you feeling present and grounded. Start off by picking a mess you’ve been meaning to clean or tidy up. It could be a room or a closet.

Gather your cleaning materials like polish, wet wipes and cloths. Begin cleaning your target mess, concentrating on your breath and taking the time over each step to make sure everything is done properly. Once you have tidied up your environment, you’ll find it much easier to be mindful in a clutter-free space.

16. Mindful cycling

Time to complete: 30 minutes

The next time you’re on your bike, why not try mindful cycling? You can do this by paying close attention to your deep breathing, the muscles in your legs contracting and the handlebars under your hands. As you push down on your peddles, bring awareness to the downward thrust that runs down your legs. How do they feel? Do they feel powerful, active and engaged?

One of the reasons I love cycling is the sensation of loading my legs with work. I get the feeling that my legs are truly engaged in what they are capable of, unlike walking around doing light exercise. When you come off your bike, bring your awareness to the rush of blood you feel and the tingling that follows. Pay attention to this post-workout buzz and enjoy it, knowing you’re getting better every time you hop off your bike!

17. Mindful breathing (4 7 8)

Time to complete: 5 minutes

A super quick mindfulness exercise is the breathing exercise 4 7 8. Mindful breathing exercises like this one are incredibly calming and grounding. The key is to let your mind wander but to focus on your breathing. To complete this exercise, breathe through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds and then breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds.

The best way to do this mindful breathing exercise is to find somewhere peaceful to sit. Try and complete five cycles of this exercise and increase the cycles as needed.

18. Mindful breathing (5 5 5)

Time to complete: 3 minutes

The 5 5 5 mindful breathing is much like the 4 7 8 breathing technique although it’s a little more shallow and easier to complete. Once again, find somewhere peaceful to sit or lay down. Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds. Then, hold your breath for another 5 seconds before breathing out of your mouth for 5 seconds.

19. Deep breathing

Time to complete: 1 minute

Deep breathing is a great mindfulness exercise that you can do anytime, anywhere. Deep breathing is perfect for feeling grounded and in the present. To do this exercise, simply breathe in as deeply as you can before holding your breath for a few seconds and then exhaling fully until there is no more air in your lungs. Repeat for several cycles until you feel a sense of calm.

20. Mindful gratitude

Time to complete: 10 minutes

Mindful gratitude is a quick mindfulness exercise that is sure to get you feeling not only gratitude but warmer and lighter towards the things and people you care about. To practise mindful gratitude, take a sheet of paper and jot down three things you are grateful for no matter how big or small. Then proceed to write down three names of people you’re grateful for and describe why you appreciate them. Let your mind go to different places freely without judgment and you’ll no doubt remember small details you may not have noticed prior.

21. Mindful music

Time to complete: 3 minutes – 1 hour

Mindful music is the practice of bringing awareness to a song as you sit and pay attention to its lyrics and meaning. Find somewhere comfortable and spend the time listening to the story that is being told. Many songs have a great beat to follow but sometimes it’s easy to ignore the meaning behind the words. This is a very meditative experience as you immerse yourself in someone’s art through your ears. You could go one step better and experience an entire album in one sitting.

21. Mindful reflection

Time to complete: 5 minutes

Mindful reflection can mean a few things but in this instance, I think that mindful reflection is best practised at the end of the day where you can evaluate what went well and what didn’t. Instead of mindlessly rolling through your week, you can become more mindful by jotting down what wins you had and what you could have done better. By assessing your daily goals and shortfalls, you’ll get a better understanding of where you are and where you want to be over time.

22. Make your bed mindfully

Time to complete: 2 minutes

As soon as you get out of bed in the morning make your bed. If you don’t already make your bed in the morning, by doing so, you’ll be setting the tone for the rest of the day and instilling a sense of discipline that will make it easier to stay focused for the rest of the day.

23. Mindful swimming

Time to complete: 1 hour

Swimming is possibly the most effective exercise out there because it engages all of the boy’s muscles. I personally love swimming because I feel as if I’ve done a complete workout. When you go swimming, it’s the perfect time to complete a body scan as you pay attention to how your muscles feel in the water. Start with your head and then move down to your shoulders, arms, waist, legs and feet. Once you jump out of the pool, bring your awareness to how your whole body feels against the cool air.

How do your arms and legs feel?

24. Try something new

Time to complete: N/A

Trying something new can be a great way to be mindful. That’s because you’ll find that you need to pay more attention to learning the skills you need to complete the new task. This could be starting a new sport, recipe or hobby. Whatever it is, trying something new stretches your mind and exposes you to new possibilities. Trying something new also forces you to be present and brings your focus to the task at hand. A good way to try something new on a consistent basis is to try a new recipe just once a week. This is a quick mindfulness exercise that can only take 10 minutes at a time.

25. Become present with your family

Time to complete: 1 – 3 hours

This can be easier said than done when there are so many things to think about all the time. It can be difficult to switch off from work or just the general chaos that is happening in the world. This can negatively affect your family relationships but it can also cause you a lot of stress personally. One of the best ways to tackles this is to set aside some time with your family where you commit to dedicating your full attention. Book a trip away or simply take your family out for a walk in nature where your cell phones are left at home.

26. Practise self compassion

Time to complete: 5 minutes

Practising self-compassion isn’t something that comes naturally to most people. As you probably know, it’s much easier to be hard on yourself when you feel as if you’ve come up short on something. In this day and age, it can feel as if we’re never quite where we want to be. Whilst this feeling can be used to motivate yourself, it can also cause anxiety and depression. That’s why it’s important to practise self-compassion.

You can do this by first forgiving yourself and by remembering that you and no one else is perfect. Furthermore, instead of avoiding challenges, embrace them to cultivate a ‘growth mindset’. The next thing you can do is to practise gratitude for not only what you have in your life but for yourself.

27. Pay attention to body language

Time to complete: 1 – 2 minutes

It can be a good idea to take note of your body language as your body language can often say more than the words from your mouth. Becoming mindful of your body language can help you remember to stand up straight with your shoulders back instead of slouching, for example. It’s also important to remember to do so you come across as presentable and attentive.

Being mindful of your body language can also be a positive exercise for you personally too. When you put on a smile and stand up straight, you end up feeling more capable of taking on the world. It’s a small and simple exercise that can make a huge difference.

28. Engage in a video game

Time to complete: 1 hour

Whilst you may have been told video games are bad for your health, I believe the opposite is true, especially when they are played in moderation. In fact, playing video games is one of the best ways to become present. To play a game well, you have to be 100% focused. Your attention is locked on the task at hand, especially when you play a very immersive video game. Playing video games puts you in a state of flow where all your worries melt away.

Of course, it’s not a good idea to play video games too much, especially if you use them to escape reality but in moderation, I believe they can have huge benefits, not only related to mindfulness.

29. Mindful meditation

Time to complete: 10 minutes

There are many different ways you can perform mindful meditations including guided meditations. However, a very easy way to get started is to do a 10-minute mindful meditation. Admittedly, meditation can be difficult if you experience a racing mind. However, this is normal and is actually the point of mindful meditation. The difference is, you’re freeing yourself from labelling your thoughts ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Instead, you’re simply observing your different thoughts as they come and go.

To do this quick mindfulness exercise, find somewhere to sit or lay down and close your eyes. You can play some calming music if you wish to. Observe your thoughts, wherever they take you but don’t judge them. This takes practice so don’t be hard on yourself if you find it hard at first.

Quick Mindfulness Exercises

There are a lot of quick mindfulness exercises you can do, these are just some of my favourites that I think are easy to integrate into your week. As previously mentioned, being able to observe your thoughts free from judgment takes practice. However, practice really does make perfect when it comes to practising mindfulness and these exercises are a gentle way to get started.

This post was previously published on Projectenergise.com.


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The post 29 Quick Mindfulness Exercises for Busy People appeared first on The Good Men Project.

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