You’re probably so busy working your ass off or looking after the kids that you barely get a moment to think. But in the craziness of everyday life, mindfulness activities can provide you with a much needed dose of Zen.

From coloring to exercises, there are tons of different activities to choose from. You’ve just got to find what works for you.

Here’s a rundown of some easy and fun mindfulness activities for you and the kids.

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Illustration by Brittany England

There are tons of ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily habits. Grab hold of your day and try something new. Carpe diem, baby.

1. Start each day with a mindful breathing technique

Mindfulness isn’t all about meditation, you know. It’s more about introducing a bit of “me” time in little pockets throughout the day.

Kick off the morning with some mindful breathing. It’ll help you feel calm and refreshed. It also helps you stay mindful as the day goes on:

  1. Set your alarm 5 or 10 minutes earlier than you’d usually wake up (so you’re not freaking out and late for work).
  2. Sit up in your bed in a comfy position.
  3. Take 3 deep breaths.
  4. Now, breathe normally. Put your hand on your stomach to feel the breathing motion.
  5. Focus on your breath. Notice how the air feels as it travels down your nose and throat, and into your chest and diaphragm. Mmm, tasty, tasty air. You’re breathing! How cool is that.
  6. Don’t worry if your mind wanders. Minds are pretty good at doing that. Watch your thought while it wanders. Just nudge your focus back to your breath and keep going.

That’s all there is to it. But you can experiment once you’ve gotten the hang of it — try extending each breath, repeating more deep breaths, or practicing the whole exercise for longer. Here are some breathing exercises that can help you chillax in a matter of minutes.

2. The “don’t know” mind

Sometimes, we can get so wrapped up in worrying about the future that we forget how to live in the present. But you need to let it go, man. You’re not a fortune teller (probably… and if you are, you knew that’s what we were about to tell you anyway).

This easygoing activity will help you get more cozy with the uncertainty of life:

  1. Get this practice in when you find yourself obsessively worrying about the future or things outside of your control.
  2. Your mind is probably busy trying to analyze every possible outcome. Take a moment and say the words I don’t know what will happen. And that’s okay.
  3. You can turn it into a little mantra, repeating as necessary until your mind slows down.

Everything really is going to be okay. You can only control so much.

3. Have a mindful conversation

Have you ever felt so distracted during a convo that you find you’re not really listening? No? Really? Why are you reading this while your bae’s talking to you then?

Life can be a nonstop barrage of major distractions. But you shouldn’t let that get in the way of quality time with your loved ones.

This is a great mindful activity to do with your partner or BFF. Go on, you both deserve it:

  1. Ask your pal, partner, or fam if they have time for a chat. Tell them you’re excited to catch up, and that you want to avoid any distractions like phones or TV.
  2. Pick somewhere like a cute café, or head out for a nice walk. (And if you’re reading this while COVID is still a thing, make sure it’s a COVID-safe stroll or sit — you don’t want to be worrying the whole time.)
  3. The aim is to really focus your attention on the other person. Approach the convo with an open mind.
  4. Give them a compliment when you’re done. Tell them how much you love and appreciate them.

This activity seems really obvious, but we miss the point so often when we’re around those we love. Shelve the distractions, and dedicate yourself in those moments to you people.

4. Write down what you’re thinking and feeling

Sometimes you just need to get your “house” in order. Journaling can help organize all the thoughts running riot in your head and give them a place to live. (And stay there, i.e., “jealous of my best friend’s new job!”)

It doesn’t have to be really structured. You don’t even have to write it down — leave yourself a rambling voice note every day like a struggling author in a movie. Or type it out if you’re fingers fly over the keys faster than you can write with a pen.

Just go with the flow and write down whatever comes to mind:

  1. Set out 10 minutes a day to write down your thoughts in a journal.
  2. Try this close to bedtime. It can help get your head straight before drifting off to dreamland.
  3. Think back on anything memorable that happened in the day. How did it make you feel? The event is less important than your feelings about it.
  4. Spend some time reading back through older entries. You might spot stress triggers or negative thought patterns.

Journaling is helpful both in the moment and as a tool for working out how you think over time.

5. Mindful seeing

This is a great exercise if you’re a “visual” thinker. All you need is a window or a spot with a good view. It doesn’t even have to be a traditionally “beautiful” view — any view that gives you something to focus on is fine.

  1. Find a spot by a window with a good view. You can also sit outside in a garden or park if it’s warm enough.
  2. Focus on the colors, patterns, or textures you can see. Try to avoid categorizing things, like “birds” or “trees.” Instead see “green,” “bumpy,” or “fluffy.”
  3. Notice any movement, like swaying tree branches or grass.
  4. Try not to fixate on any one thing. Let your mind gently take you from one moment to the next.
  5. If you become distracted, just gently nudge your focus on to a new color, texture, pattern, or movement.

You’re just seeing, not looking.

6. Mindful coloring and drawing

Why should kids get to have all the fun? Coloring is a great mindful activity to help relieve stress and focus on the moment.

It’s also much easier to get into than stuffy silent meditations. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Get yourself an adult coloring book. Or try out the free coloring exercise we made just for you and your kids (you’re welcome).
  2. Buy some dope coloring pencils so you have loads of colors to choose from.
  3. Set aside 30 mins to 1 hour and make your design look purdy.
  4. Try to focus on the intricate patterns, and don’t let your thoughts distract you. You only thought needs to be “ooh, swirly” or “ohh, that purple” for the next hour. How freeing is that?

There’s legit research that coloring can actually help relieve stress and anxiety.

A 2005 study from the American Art Therapy Association showed that coloring either a mandala or plaid design for 20-minutes reduced anxiety levels in participants.

Sure did, buddy-o! We created one amazing coloring exercise for you, and one for your kids.

Block off some time, blot out those swirling thoughts, and whip out those coloring pencils.

For you

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Illustration by Brittany England

For your younglings

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Illustration by Brittany England

Mindfulness sounds like quite a grown-up concept. But kids can benefit massively from this practice too.

And, actually, playing is one of the most mindful things you can do. So kids may well be the mindfulness masters already, as they haven’t yet learned how to have hang-ups and deadlines. Lucky sh*ts.

Establishing mindfulness earlier in life can give them useful tools to carry into adulthood.

Let’s have a look at some fun mindfulness activities for the kiddos.

1. Safari

Put on those safari hats — it’s time for an adventure! This safari-themed activity is a super fun way to teach kids about mindfulness:

  1. Get your kids excited by telling them that you’re going on safari. Safari! Yaaaaaaaay!
  2. Head out on a favorite nature trail, or try somewhere new. Woodland walks are cool, as they’re teeming with wildlife.
  3. Their aim is to find and write down as many different birds, bugs, slugs, snails, creatures, crawlies, and furries as they possibly can.
  4. Get them to focus on all of their senses as they search. Have them consciously thinking about textures, smells, sounds, and colors.

If you live in the city, then why not try a nearby park? At a push, even the backyard can work. Be creative, and really play into your role as the safari guide.

2. Power poses

It’s time to strike a power pose! This exercise helps kids realize the connection between their mind and body.

If they’re feeling self-conscious, sometimes all they need is a little confidence boost. With these power poses, they’ll soon be feeling like an Avenger:

  1. Find a quiet(ish) spot away from prying eyes.
  2. Ask them to strike the pose of their favorite superhero. Superman, Captain America, or Wonder Woman work great if they can’t decide.
  3. Encourage and cheer them on! “YEEEEEEAH! THE CAP IS HERE!”
  4. Ask them how they feel now. Hopefully like a superhero badass.

Get ready for Your Child: The Snyder Cut.

3. Mindful snack time

A lot of the time, we just shove food in our face-holes without really thinking about it. We do this with our kids too. After all, the sooner they finish dinner, the sooner you can crack open the vino and binge-watch “Jersey Shore.”

Mindful eating forces you both to slow down and really pay attention to what you’re eating. Food is so much more than just fuel:

  1. Choose one of their favorite drinks or snacks. Or something new with a really unusual texture. There’s no rules here!
  2. Ask them to describe it. Maybe it’s super wrinkly like a raisin, or shiny and smooth like a glossy apple.
  3. Give it a good sniff. Is it strong or subtle? Does it smell of anything at all?
  4. Have them put the food in their mouth. Y’know, like you do with food.
  5. Get them to chew or drink really slowly. Get them to describe it again. Is it hot or cold? Salty or sweet?

Use jellies or brightly colored foods to make it more fun. Switch yucky and yummy stuff for mega lolz. (Watch out for those prank jellybeans!)

4. The mindful jar

Kids tend to throw tantrums because they haven’t yet learned how to control their emotions.

This activity can teach them how to deal when their emotions take hold. It’s super useful for when they’re feeling overwhelmed:

  1. Get a big empty mason jar and fill it up with water.
  2. Add a big ol’ spoon of glitter glue and shake, shake, shake, señora.
  3. Explain that the glitter in the jar is like their thoughts. When they’re whirling around so fast, it’s hard to concentrate.
  4. Ask them to watch the jar over a few minutes, as the glitter begins to settle.
  5. Explain that their mind works in the same way. When you give it time to settle, you can see things more clearly.
  6. Focus on one emotion at a time, such as anger or sadness.

5. Yoga

If your kids have trouble sitting still, yoga could be a fun activity to try. It combines mindfulness and meditation with physical movements and postures.

Best of all, kids doing yoga is just super adorable.

  1. You can ask around the neighborhood for a kids’ yoga class, but there are loads of good videos online too.
  2. If you’re doing yoga at home, check out Cosmic Kids Yoga as a starting point. There’s loads of great exercises for ages 3+.
  3. Create a safe, tidy space to practice in. Remember, a cluttered room is a cluttered mind.
  4. After the session, talk to them about what they did and didn’t like.

So you’re probably wondering whether this whole mindfulness thing is actually legit.

The benefits of mindfulness have been trumpeted by top-knotted yoga instructors and bespectacled psychotherapists alike. But what does the research say?

Well, it looks like mindfulness may help reduce symptoms of job burnout.

A meta-analysis from 2016 evaluated the effects of mindfulness in reducing job burnout. It found significant evidence that mindfulness can help reduce burnout among healthcare professionals and teachers (y’know, the most burnt out people on the planet).

A review from 2017 also found that mindfulness-based interventions reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. In some cases, they even worked as well as Cognitive Behavior Therapies (CBT). Well, damn.

Mindfulness also reduced worry and overthinking (feelings closely linked to anxiety and depression) in participants in a 2019 study.

It’s important to note that these studies mostly focus on mindfulness in psychological settings, though. More info is needed on how effective these practices are in the general population.

But the research looks really promising. And, heck, if you get benefits from it, sitting down and coloring for half an hour isn’t exactly going to hurt to try. The worst possible outcome is you having something swagalicious to pin on your fridge.

Mindfulness activities can help you get a moment of calm in an otherwise chaotic life.

Not just you, but the kids too. Teaching them how to be mindful will help them navigate the big bad world when they’re all grown up.

With a whole load of different activities to try, you and your kids will be feeling a little more Zen in no time. 🧘