10 Easy Mindfulness Exercises You Can Do Daily

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October 12, 2018

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Mindfulness practices have become increasingly popular in recent years and can be a simple yet effective way to reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health, sleep, concentration, resilience, sense of calm, or overall wellbeing.

According to the Mayo Clinic, mindfulness is a type of meditation where you focus on being aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.  

Although it’s common to think of yoga and meditation when you hear the word mindfulness, it’s a broad practice that can include everything from breathwork or breathing exercises to journalling, mental exercises, movement and affirmations. 

10 simple mindfulness exercises 

Whether you’re completely new to mindfulness or looking for new ways to incorporate it into your routine, these are 10 of our favourite, easy mindfulness exercises to bring yourself back to the present moment.

Practice gratitude

Reflecting on 3-5 things you’re thankful for right now is a great way to focus on the good in your life while not letting yourself get lost in the past or future. A gratitude practice might involve keeping a journal, sharing with a loved one, or making some mental notes at the end of each day. If you find yourself repeating the same things each day, it can help to ask yourself, ‘What went well today?’ or ‘What am I proud of today?’

During your health and fitness journey, practicing gratitude can also help to remind yourself of how well you’re doing or how far you’ve come, even on days when you aren’t feeling your best.  

The 5-4-3-2-1 technique 

In any moment that you’re feeling stressed, anxious or caught up in your own thinking and want to bring yourself back to the present moment, the 5-4-3-2-1 technique is incredibly popular as a way to tune in to what’s going on around you. This is something you can do anywhere, anytime.

It’s as simple as this:

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Mindful eating

Ok, be honest - when was the last time you ate a meal without the distraction of a TV, laptop or phone screen? It’s ok, us too, but mealtimes offer an amazing opportunity to practice mindfulness, slow down, and listen to your body.

Turn off your devices, make sure the only thing you’re doing is eating, and take your time. Taste each bite, chew slowly (this is great for digestion!), go for another spoonful only after you've finished your mouthful, and finish eating when you feel full. Mindfully eating can be another opportunity to practice gratitude - not only for the food itself but for all the people and resources that went into its production!

Walk and listen

Walking features in many Sweat programs, and this is something you can either incorporate into your weekly walks, or do as a standalone mindful form of movement.

Head out for a walk, with the focus being on what you can hear. Mentally, take note of every noise, whether it’s a car honking, a bird tweeting, kids laughing or a dog barking. Whenever you notice you’ve become distracted and are thinking about something else, bring your focus back to identifying what you can hear.

Body scan

As much as mindfulness is about becoming more aware of your surroundings, it’s also about becoming more aware of what’s going on within your own body, and a body scan is a great way to connect within. 

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, and working slowly from the top of your head down to your toes, move your focus across every part of your body and notice how you’re feeling. In different parts of your body you might feel an itch, a tingle, an ache, or a rumble in your stomach. The point of this isn’t to make judgements or try to fix anything, but simply to notice how you feel and understand the different signals your body is giving you. 

Box breathing

According to the Cleveland Clinic, box breathing is a powerful form of yogic deep breathing that increases your sense of calm by activating your parasympathetic nervous system. It can also give your mind something to focus on if you’re feeling mentally frazzled.

As you breathe, think of it following a box pattern:

  • Inhale for four counts.

  • Hold for four counts.

  • Exhale for four counts.

  • Hold for four counts.

  • Repeat.

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Guided meditations

Meditating on your own can be quite challenging if you’re new to the practice, but luckily there are plenty of guided meditations available on YouTube and Spotify to teach you the ropes and instruct you throughout. Guided meditations can be generic, designed for certain times of day, or tailored to support you with specific issues such as sleep, anxiety or stress. 

Step out of the story

Often when we feel stressed or down, our minds are telling us an unhelpful or disempowering story about what we’re going through. Sometimes, things are difficult or unfortunate, but there are also moments when we make them more difficult for ourselves by how we frame them. Professor, author and speaker Brené Brown is a big fan of using one simple sentence starter to become more mindful of your own thought patterns. ‘The story I’m telling myself is…’

Affirmations 

While mindfulness is more about becoming aware of your thoughts rather than trying to change them, affirmations can be a nourishing way to feel more empowered and positive at any point in your day. 

Affirmations are positive ‘I am’ statements that you can say aloud, in your head, or even have as visual reminders on your phone wallpaper or sticky notes in your home. 

While it might feel a bit strange to try this out initially, if you regularly state affirmations to yourself in those moments when you’re starting to have doubt or not feeling confident within yourself, you might quickly realise how empowering and useful it can be. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • I am calm and relaxed in all situations.

  • I believe in myself.

  • I am enough.

  • I am at peace with where I am.

  • I am thankful for all the good in my life.

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Mindful workouts

Mindfulness can also feed into your workout routine. Yoga is an obvious choice for a form of exercise that is about nourishing your mind and soul just as much as your body, but mindfulness can also be a part of other training styles such as Pilates, barre and strength training

Kelsey Wells even launched her Redefine Fitness program in 2022 - four weeks of strength workouts, paired with mindfulness practices, breathwork and affirmations to support you with every aspect of your fitness journey.

Looking for a yoga or Pilates program? Try one of these in the Sweat app: 

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness practices are all about developing a sense of awareness of your experiences and self without judgement. It can decrease your levels of stress, anxiety, rumination and emotional reactivity, and increase your focus, cognitive flexibility and even relationship satisfaction.

Sweat is about so much more than your workouts

Feel your best - inside AND out

Start these mindfulness exercises now

Changing up your routine and incorporating mindfulness exercises into your daily life in whatever way works for you can do wonders for your wellbeing, setting you up well for today and your future.

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* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.

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