As someone living with mental illness, being mindful does not always come easily. In fact, due to the trauma that I have experienced, it is one of the the therapeutic skills that I struggle with the most. After many years of therapy for depression and anxiety, I have come up with a list of mindfulness activities that I can use during those times that can be stressful, irritating or frustrating.
What is mindfulness and how does it work?
Mindfulness is about establishing concentration and focus onto a specific activity. It is about being in the activity and observing, with your senses, what is happening during that activity. Pay attention to how it feels, how it smells, what you see, etc.
Mindfulness Activities That Work for Me
- Mindfully Coloring/Doodling: Pay attention to how the pens/pencils/markers feel in your hands, how they move on the paper, what colors they create.
- Lay In The Yard and Watch The Clouds: Be mindful of how the clouds look in the sky, how the move, how the grass feels under your body, how the air and grass smell. Be in that moment.
- Apply Lotion: This may be part of your daily routine, but how often do you really think about how it feels, how it smells, the way it changes your skin. You may be surprised how much mindfulness can change this simple activity.
- Eat a Snack: Another daily activity that can be changed by taking a moment to be mindful of what you are doing. Be present while preparing your snack. Think about why you chose that snack, how you prepare it, how it feels in your mouth, how it tastes and how it smells.’
- Take a Walk: This one may be a little more difficult, but try to concentrate on your walk. Be mindful of how the path feels under your feet, count your steps, be conscious of the scents and sights around you, but be mindful of your steps/walk.
- Pick One Thing To Clean: Clean one thing in your house mindfully. Perhaps, cleaning the counter or sweeping the floor. Think about how the surface felt before you cleaned it. How it looked. How the sponge/paper towel or broom feels in your hands. Concentrate on the motions your hands make and how it feels.
- Cook A Meal For Your Family: Pick out a recipe and mindfully prepare the meal for your family. Focus on each step and how it feels to prep the ingredients. How the ingredients smell. What do they sound while they cook. How the smell changes as they cook and how their appearance changes.
- Listen to Your Favorite Song: Listen to and concentrate on the lyrics. Think about how these lyrics make you feel. Do they make you sway? How does this song make you feel emotionally. How do the instruments sound? Can you separate them from the lyrics?
- Take Care of Your Nails: Mindfully gather the tools you need to clip and file your nails. Wash your nails and concentrate on getting them clean. How does the soap feel? What does it feel like to scrub your nails? How does it feel to clip your nails? How does it sound? Does it make you feel satisfied?
- Treat Yourself: Indulge in your favorite tasty treat. How does it feel to allow yourself to have this treat? What does this treat feel like in your hands? How delicious is that first bite? What does it smell like? How does it feel in your mouth?
I hope that my list of mindfulness activities inspires you to try them or to find some of your own to focus on.