Meditate for 30 min a day—minimum.
Don’t look at your phone when you’re bored.
Eat mindfully—always, and without distractions.
You want to be more mindful because you’ve heard it’s good for you… but it can all be really overwhelming.
You’re already juggling a bunch of other life stuff, right? Adding a half hour of meditation to your routine might sound cool, but it’s hard to make that time.
Mindfulness for Beginners Tips—or Anyone With Limited Time or Energy
Ideally, we’d all have an extra three hours a day to slow down, tune in, and experience ultra zen. But I know that’s not realistic for the majority of us, and I think we can do a lot of good for ourselves with more simple, short spurts of mindfulness.
Small—sometimes very small—can help a lot. Incorporating tiny bouts of mindfulness into daily life doesn’t seem as daunting. So there’s a better chance you’ll continue to do them instead of dropping off after a couple days.
Simple practices can also help you become more mindful naturally—which is really the goal right?
ALSO: Please don’t try to do all, or even several, or these at once. You’ll likely get overwhelmed. Start with 1-2 per day or scroll through and find the ones that resonate with you—and try them for the week! This list is long just so you have many options. 🙂
1. Pause for Three Breaths
Pause. Just for three long, meaningful breaths. It won’t slow down your day, but it can help slow down your MIND—and that is a good thing. It can also calm your nervous system.
Deep inhale through your nose, long and forceful exhale through your mouth. Repeat x3.
Whenever you feel anxious or overwhelmed or off today, try pausing for just these three breaths.
2. Engage Each of Your Senses
Take just a sec, right now, to engage with your surroundings.
What‘s at least one thing you can SEE, HEAR, SMELL, TOUCH, and possibly even TASTE?
This practice can help you come back into the present and slow down. It gets you out of your head when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
Do it with me here:
3. Write for Five Minutes About What’s on Your Mind
Set a timer for just five minutes, and write about what’s on your mind.
Maybe you’ll write about what’s important to you in life, how you’re feeling right now, or a problem you’re dealing with.
Writing can be a healthy outlet for built-up thoughts or emotions.
Note: If you want to write longer after the timer goes off, feel free! Or stop at exactly five minutes.
4. Notice the Warmth of Your Coffee
For a few moments, pause to truly enjoy your cup of coffee or tea.
Notice the warmth of it on your hands (or cold, if iced is more your thing—like me!).
Breathe in the aroma of it.
Pay attention to the flavor as it touches your tongue and goes down your throat.
5. Enjoy Your Favorite Food as Much as Possible
This is not about eating mindfully with the intention of eating less or slowly chewing a raisin. Eff that!
Pick something you love to eat. Anything. For me, that’s basically anything with chocolate, like these, or something with potatoes.
Make your goal getting the most satisfaction and enjoyment out of this food.
Savor its taste, its texture, and how you feel when eating it. Some people like to eat it on a fancy plate or cuddle up with a blanket in the living room.
It’s so common to eat on-the-go, so gifting yourself just a few moments to enjoy what you love most is a nice little mindfulness moment. You deserve it.
6. Get a Book, Read a Blog Post, or Watch a Video on Mindfulness
Want to be more mindful but no idea where to START? Begin with one resource.
Read or watch just one thing today that helps you tune in and be more mindful.
Obviously most of us can’t read an entire book in a day, but you can start one! Maybe just read the first chapter.
Or: read an article online about mindfulness, watch a helpful YouTube video, or listen to a podcast episode as you’re walking or driving.
Books/journals/cards I love:
- Mindfulness on the Go book by Jan Chozen Bays
- Mindfulness on the Go Cards, also by Bays
- 100 Life Challenges by Sarah Steckler (an awesome guided journal!)
- Feeling Good by David Burns
- Buddhist Boot Camp or Faithfully Religionless by Timber Hawkeye
- A Two-Minute Mindfulness Practice to Unhijack Your Attention
- PsychCentral.com articles
- Simple Ways to Be More Mindful in Our Everyday Lives
- Less than 5 Minutes Guided Mindfulness for Beginners Practice from me
- Breathing Exercise or any other mindfulness video by Kati Morton
- search “mindfulness” or “mindfulness meditation” on YouTube
These are just suggestions. A simple Google search will bring up some great suggestions too. 🙂
7. Drink a Big Glass of Water
Pretty self-explanatory: Drink a big glass of water! Especially when you first wake up.
This might sound silly, but being dehydrated can zap your energy—at least that’s my experience!
Try staying hydrated today and see what a difference it makes. Also, use it as a chance to pause and know you’re doing something good for body and mind.
8. Hug a Pet
I find animals amazing for self-care and mindfulness. They’re always living in the present moment!
If you have a pet in your life, take a moment to love on them.
Feel their warmth and their happy energy. We can all use more of that.
9. Connect with a Human
When we’re overwhelmed or distracted by life’s responsibilities, it can be hard to slow down and connect with the people around us.
Take a moment for connection today. That could be hugging someone you care about, complementing someone’s outfit, calling or video chatting with a friend or family member, or asking how someone’s day was and truly listening to them.
It could also be opening up to them or starting a conversation on something you both care about.
Moments of meaningful connection are so important for good mental health.
10. Drop Thoughts About the Past or Present; Notice What’s Happening Right Now
Most of the time, especially when we’re anxious or down, we’re either thinking about what’s to come later or something that happened in the past.
What would happen if you focused on the “now”?
Take a beat to notice what’s happening in the present. Even if it’s boring. Even if it’s stressful.
Try observing it without judging, without trying to change anything.
Just observe. How does it feel? What do you notice?
11. Let Yourself Be Bored
When you have to wait for something or are feeling bored or anxious, instead of reaching immediately for your phone to text or check Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram…
Feel the boredom. Just for a few minutes. Even if it sucks at first.
Breathe. Look around you.
I’ve talked to many people who feel like they need to be going-going-going all the time. They feel guilty relaxing or “doing nothing.”
But it’s actually good to gives ourselves that “do nothing” time and be okay with being bored. That’s time to process thoughts, to take a break, to dream…
Being “on” less often can make us more focused and productive when we DO need to focus on important tasks.
See how many times you can do this in one day, even if just for a few moments.
12. “Zoom Out”
This is a technique I created for myself. When I’m anxious or overwhelmed, I get a sort of “tunnel vision” where everything is focused on what’s uncomfortable and what’s wrong.
If this happens to you, gently tell yourself, “zoom out.” Widen your focus to beyond what’s going on in your mind. Look at your surroundings.
Notice where you are in the grand scheme of things:
- Even if it feels like everything’s caving in, the world is still turning. Birds are still chirping. Cars are still going by. Your heart’s still pumping. You are more than your mind. Zoom out and give yourself a healthy perspective on what’s happening.
- If you feel alone in your worries, remember that there’s an entire world of other people around you. There are people who are feeling exactly as you are right now, and they understand. You’re never alone.
- However you feel in the moment, time is fleeting. The discomfort you feel now is temporary, and zooming out can give you the space to breathe and know you’ll be okay.
13. Give a Conversation Your Full Attention
Active listening is a much-needed form of mindfulness. It’s easy to get used to “hearing” someone talk without truly “listening.”
Try really listening to the next person you interact with today.
See if you can direct your full attention to the moment with them. Try to really understand what they’re saying before responding. Tune in. Connect.
14. Focus Fully on One Task During Your Day
Full focus on the next thing or task you do today.
Many of us are chronic multitaskers. (As someone with ADHD, it’s hard for me to NOT be one.)
But trying to do too many things at once can simply make us feel more busy without getting anything done. It’s almost a sure-fire way to increase anxiety and overwhelm.
When you focus on one thing at a time, you can complete it more fully. And often, it can get done faster. So start small, and try it—whether you’re driving, doing the dishes, or writing an email or article.
15. View All Experiences With an Open Mind, Even the Uncomfortable Ones
Take a step back from yourself today and view each experience with an open mind:
- What would happen if you saw each experience as an opportunity to grow?
- How open can you be to something new or challenging?
- Would things change if you knew discomfort was a sign of something bigger and greater on the horizon?
Or what if you tuned into a crappy situation and let yourself feel the tough emotions without guilt?
Try giving yourself a moment of pause throughout the day, to view an experience in a different light.
16. Ask Yourself, “How are My Problems Strengthening Me?”
Sometimes life is hard, and some things are just bad and unfair. But every challenge we face teaches us something and makes us more prepared for the next one.
I don’t really subscribed to the “everything happens for a reason” philosophy, but I do think we can find meaning in just about everything that happens to us—and each new experience or roadblock or challenge can be used for something greater down this unpredictable road of life.
Ask yourself how what you’re going through is benefitting you moving forward. You might be surprised by the answer.
17. Remind Yourself: There’s No Reason to Feel Guilty When You Feel Bad
This last one is just a reminder that there’s no guilt or shame in struggling with mindfulness or anxiety or overwhelm.
Life itself is overwhelming. Responsibilities and demands are plentiful. So it’s completely understandable if being mindful is hard for you. Mindfulness for beginners is really mindfulness for most people.
Just take it one day at a time. Go at the pace that works for you.
Increasing mindfulness can absolutely help you feel better, but don’t feel bad if it doesn’t get easily for you at first either. You don’t need to be mindful every second of the day (pretty sure that’s impossible)—or even most seconds of the day to—benefit.
Just take a few moments. A little can make a world of difference.