25 Calming Mindfulness Activities for Adults (+ PDF)

  • By: Ryan Kane
  • Updated: August 15, 2023
  • Time to read: 10 min.

Mindfulness activities for adults are much more diverse than the typical activities we think of first, like seated meditation and yoga. From gratitude to self-compassion, from mindful eating to mindful hugs, the options for incorporating mindfulness into your everyday life are endless.

Mindfulness is such a vast topic that sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. The answer, according to mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn, is to focus on one element of mindfulness at a time. Breaking your practice down into chunks can help make the process more manageable.

But what about when you’ve lost inspiration, or if you’re getting tired of typical mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga? What other mindfulness practices can help you bring awareness to your daily life? 

That’s exactly what this list of 25 mindfulness activities for adults is designed to cover. Hopefully, they bring a new sense of  inspiration and creativity to your mindfulness practice. 

Looking for mindfulness activities for other age groups? Check out our articles on mindfulness activities for teens and mindfulness activities for kids.

25 mindfulness activities for adults

Mindfulness activities for adults 1 meditation

1. Read a mindfulness book

It’s incredible what you can learn by diving into the minds of the great spiritual teachers. From the Dalai Lama to Jon Kabat-Zinn to Thich Nhat Hanh, the accumulated life knowledge of some of the wisest people to have ever lived is at your fingertips.

Want some recommendations? Check out my list of the best mindfulness books.

2. Practice movement meditation

Did you know you don’t have to sit still on a cushion in order to meditate? If you’ve found yourself getting antsy after too long in sitting meditation, try experimenting with tai chi, qi gong, dancing, walking meditation, or other forms of movement meditation.

3. Get a monthly mindfulness subscription box

Do you find yourself losing motivation in your mindfulness practice? Ordering a mindfulness subscription box gives you a chance to do a “reset” of your motivation each month. Knowing that you’ll get new tools and inspiration delivered to your door every month might be exactly what you need to keep growing your practice.

4. Try mindful cooking

Ever heard of mindful cooking? If you find yourself getting stressed or overwhelmed while cooking, you might be getting lost in thought instead of losing yourself in the present moment. 

Mindful cooking is a way to bring yourself deeply into the act of chopping ingredients and cooking your meal. As a bonus, it helps you build patience and makes the whole cooking process more enjoyable. 

Here’s a list of mindful cooking strategies for your next meal.

9 tips for mindful cooking and cooking meditation
Mindful cooking is a way to bring joy and present awareness to the everyday act of cooking

5. Start a mindfulness journal

Journaling is an excellent tool for introspection, but it’s also the perfect mindfulness activity because it allows you to clear your mind and turn jumbled thoughts into something concrete. You can also use journaling as a mindfulness tool with mindfulness journal prompts that invite you to reflect on different aspects of mindfulness in your life.

Here’s a mindfulness journal template that’ll help you get started fast.

6. Make a list of things to be grateful for

There are so many reasons to be grateful that once you make a habit of looking for them, they start showing up everywhere.

(If you’re looking for inspiration, here are 101 reasons to be grateful.)

7. Dream bigger with manifestation

Manifestation might seem a little woo-woo if you haven’t tried it, but as I argue in my manifestation guide for skeptics, it’s essentially a supercharged version of traditional goal setting. 

Rather than just giving yourself a goal, manifestation invites you to dream big, then create a detailed, emotional, and immersive visualization that makes it feel like you’ve already achieved what you set out to do. In a way, you’re hacking your mind’s expectations to pave the road that allows you to reach your goals.

8. Practice abundant thinking

Abundance is all about imagining that good things are coming your way, rather than getting caught up in limiting beliefs or constricted thinking. 

If you’re interested in cultivating an abundance mindset driven by self-compassion, gratitude, affirmations, and possibilities, check out these abundance mindset examples

9. Do a meditation retreat

You don’t have to do a ten-day silent meditation retreat like I did, but a meditation retreat of one day or more offers the opportunity to get much more meditation practice than you would normally.

Think of it this way: if you meditate for ten minutes each day, that means you get 60 hours of meditation practice in a year. At a retreat, you’re likely to get that much practice in a week.

Concentrated meditation practice in a retreat context can help advance your practice and provide a burst of motivation to continue further on your own.

Mindfulness activities for adults 2 wash hands

10. Listen to music mindfully

What does it mean to mindfully listen to music? By bringing your full awareness to whatever you’re listening to. When your attention drifts, bring it back to the present moment and the experience of listening to each layer of sound.

Wearing headphones and listening to a song that’s entirely new to you are a couple of ways to make it easier to listen to music mindfully

11. Practice being more playful

As we grow into adulthood and responsibilities feature more prominently in our lives, some of the playfulness of childhood naturally seeps out. (Well, for some of us. Others do an admirable job of keeping a childlike spirit). 

If you’re looking for a quick framework for thinking about mindfulness, approaching life with a playful, childlike attitude is a great place to start.

12. Try mantra meditation

Mantra meditation is a great way to mix up your meditation routine, especially if you’ve struggled with distraction during your meditation session. 

Rather than focusing on your breathing or on a physical object of concentration, mantra meditation invites you to focus on the act of repeating a word silently inside your head. Usually, it’s something simple like “ah-hum.” 

This is pretty beginner-friendly. Try it, and see if it comes any easier to you than other forms of meditation. 

13. Get in touch with your emotions

Mindfulness is all about walking through life with awareness, rather than stumbling around on autopilot. But being aware of how you feel, and identifying the specific emotions that are coming up for you, are two distinct skills. 

Consider learning about the eight primary emotions – like anger, fear, joy, and sadness – so you can practice identifying them as they come up, rather than letting your feelings go unknown.

The eight primary emotions, from joy to shame
When you feel vaguely “off,” challenge yourself to identify the specific emotion you feel

14. Learn a new language

Learning a language can be a great mindfulness hack!

Why? Because there’s no way to avoid the practices you need to engage in to develop your powers of mindfulness. When you’re speaking another language, particularly in another country, you’re forced to look at normal, everyday situations with new eyes

Plus, you have to put yourself out there and be willing to make mistakes. The only way to do that in the long run is to practice nonjudgment and self-compassion towards yourself – key mindfulness skills.

15. Try meditating in a noisy place

Meditating in a silent room on a comfortable meditation cushion is great and all – but have you ever tried meditating in a noisy place?

It’s great for rewiring your expectations about meditation. Meditation doesn’t require silence. It’s not easy, but instead of focusing on your breath, try keeping an open awareness and letting your attention linger on whatever sounds come up in your environment. 

Of course, if the jackhammers start, you might have to put headphones on. But if you’re in a place with nature sounds or normal city noises, you might find that meditating on the sounds of your environment adds a new angle to your mindfulness practice. 

16. Try meditating with your eyes open

If you normally meditate with your eyes closed, try meditating with your eyes open. (Zen monks do it!)

There are pros and cons to each method, but keeping your eyes open might help you stay awake and alert during your meditation, and avoid the temptation that often comes with eyes-closed meditation to get lost in your imagination.

17. Wash your hands mindfully

Washing your hands might just be the perfect mindfulness activity:

  • It’s something you do many times a day
  • It often happens in the privacy of a bathroom
  • There are sounds and sensations to focus on
  • Bathrooms often have a mirror; seeing your reflection can serve as a trigger to remind you to be mindful for 30-60 seconds while you wash your hands

To wash your hands mindfully, just do the same thing you normally do – but slower. Pay attention to each step of the process, and notice the feeling of the lathered soap on your hands, and the temperature of the water. 

18. Try the STOP method

Ever need a quick mindful break? The STOP method is a grounding exercise that helps you reconnect with yourself. Here’s how it works:

  • (S) Stand up and breathe.
  • (T) Tune into your body. Notice how it feels, and any physical sensations.
  • (O) Observe. What is your body telling you?
  • (P) Ask what’s possible. What new possibilities might emerge if you’re able to connect with yourself in this moment? How might this be a turning point for the rest of the day?
Mindfulness activities for adults 3 raisin exercise

19. Turn dull moments into mindfulness exercises

Every day has a myriad of boring moments. You know the ones:

  • Waiting at a stop light
  • Standing in an elevator
  • Sitting in the doctor’s office
  • Waiting for water to boil
  • Killing time in the grocery store checkout line

And on, and on, and on. Challenge yourself to turn some of these moments into opportunities for mindfulness. When you’re standing in the grocery store checkout line, wishing it would move faster, invite yourself to instead accept this moment as it is. Treat it with curiosity and openness. Pay attention to what’s happening around you with nonjudgment.

20. Practice self-compassion

Self-compassion is an essential skill for operating in the world, because so many of us walk around being hard on ourselves

Instead, we need to treat ourselves as we would a dear friend or a child: with patience, understanding, forgiveness, and compassion.

If you catch yourself falling into a pattern of negative self-talk, challenge yourself to try a different approach. Ask yourself, “How would I treat a friend who was talking to herself or himself this way?”

21. Hug someone

If you’ve got someone to hug, do it as often as possible. Invite your partner, friend, or family member to take three deep breaths while hugging you, in order to balance your nervous system and release oxytocin.

Hugging is a great way to remind yourself of the strength of the mind-body connection. Often, what seems like an intractable feeling can be solved by moving your body or connecting with others.

22. Do the raisin mindfulness meditation

The raisin mindfulness meditation is a classic practice that teaches you to linger on food, noticing the texture, taste, and smell on a deeper level than you normally would. 

It doesn’t have to be done with a raisin, either. Pick your favorite food, or even a cup of tea, and approach it with intention, slowly. 

Step-by-step printable guide on how to do the raisin mindfulness exercise
The raisin exercise can help you pay more attention to everyday activities

23. Stop reading the news

Reading the news can feel like something you need to do to be a responsible citizen, but the reality is that the daily news cycle is often a drip-feed of stress and anxiety that moves your focus onto things outside of your control.

Consider taking a pause from reading the news – even if just for a few days – and notice how you feel. If you find yourself calmer and more peaceful, ask yourself if you’d like to continue the experiment. 

24. Try negative visualization

Counterintuitively, negative visualization is a way to appreciate what you have

Here’s how it works. Imagine yourself at some point in the future, having lost everything you hold dear. Maybe you don’t have a job, or you’ve ended up alone, or you’ve encountered any number of challenging scenarios. 

Then, zoom back out and return to your present self. Notice all the good that’s around you. Use the contrast of the negative visualization with your present experience as a way to build gratitude and appreciation. 

25. Recognize what falls within your circle of control

Venn diagram of circle of concern vs circle of influence
Notice what’s in your control, and do more of it

There’s so much in life that we have no control over: the stock market, the weather, politics, government, how other people choose to behave. 

These things you have no way to control or affect fall within your Circle of Concern. Ask yourself how much of your mental energy is being spent here.

At the same time, there’s plenty in your life that you can control: where you live, your job, your attitude, your philosophy, what you read, who you marry, how much you exercise. 

This is your Circle of Control. How would it feel if you focused more of your energy in this area?

Download this list as a mindfulness activities PDF

Interested in downloading all of these activities as a PDF?

Just click the button below: