It’s important to put mindfulness activities for middle school students in a context they’re interested in. That means making mindfulness exercises relevant to their lives. Focus on interactive activities like mindful eating, mindful music listening, or movement exercises.
Middle schoolers can benefit as much as anyone else from mindfulness skills like self-compassion, patience, awareness, emotional balance, and calming the nervous system.
But what’s the right way to hold their attention?
This list of mindfulness activities for middle schoolers includes interactive activities that have something for everyone.
Looking for mindfulness activities for other age groups? Check out our articles on mindfulness activities for teens and mindfulness activities for kids.
Looking for more structure? Check out this fully Printable Guided 31-Day Mindfulness Challenge:
17 mindfulness activities for middle school students
1. Add meditation into your study routine
A 2019 study showed that meditation is effective at reducing stress and anxiety around exam time. The best news? The students in the study were only practicing meditation or yoga once per week.
That means even if you can only devote a bit of time each week to mindfulness, meditation, or yoga, it may keep you lower-stress in the weeks leading up to exams.
Plus, some studies show that meditation may increase your IQ. And it’s been repeatedly shown to improve short-term memory, decision-making skills, focus, and attention.
2. Add mindfulness to your social media feeds
One of the easiest ways to introduce mindfulness into your life on a regular basis is to make the process automatic.
In the age of social media, one of the great ways to influence your thinking is to do a “social media audit” and make sure the accounts that populate your social feeds contain the kind of thinking and examples that you want to bring into your life.
Remove those that don’t, and add more accounts that do. Over time, you’ll automatically be exposed to and reminded of the mindfulness concepts that you want to incorporate into your life.
You can follow Mindfulness Box’s social media channels here. While you’re at it, follow some of these other excellent mindfulness resources.
3. Get into a state of flow
Have you ever been doing something you love, and found that the hours absolutely flew by and you lost yourself in your work?
For me, this can happen when I’m immersing myself in the Internet, building websites, designing, or writing. For you, it might be something entirely different.
Spending time in a state of flow is one of the great joys of being alive. Noticing when you’re losing track of time and falling into a state of flow can also point you towards the activities you should be spending more time on.
Try and identify what activities in your life might be flow-inducing. Then, go do them.
4. Try 4-7-8 breathing
A simple breathing technique to center yourself and calm your nervous system, the 4-7-8 breathing technique helps to provide a mindful moment through the experience of intentional breathing.
To start, first get comfortable. Sit or lie down, then breathe through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds. Then, breath forcefully out for 8 seconds.
Try doing multiple cycles of 4-7-8 breathing over the course of a few minutes.
5. 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 facilitate listening to music mindfully.
6. 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?
7. 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
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.
8. Take a break from multitasking
With so much to do all the time, from school to home to extracurricular activities, there’s a huge temptation to jump between tasks to try and get as much done as possible.
But multitasking is usually a counterproductive way to work. When we multitask, our attention is divided and we are less effective overall. If you’re a chronic multitasker, try giving yourself a window of time – maybe 30 minutes, or an hour – to focus exclusively on one task.
If it’s a task you love, pay attention to any feelings of flow, or losing track of time, that might come up.
9. Yawn and stretch
Who doesn’t appreciate an opportunity to yawn and stretch?
Especially if you’re designing a mindfulness activity that takes place in the morning, there’s no better icebreaker than to give everyone a chance to do what they really want to do:
Acknowledge that they’re tired!
But yawning and stretching slowly is also a mindfulness exercise in its own right. It can bring you back to your body, and help you notice and release areas of tension.
10. Practice alternate nostril breathing
Here’s an easy one. When you’re looking for a quick mindfulness activity, alternate nostril breathing provides a great structure to help you manage your breath, while regulating the nervous system and promoting relaxation.
To get started, just place your thumb on your right nostril. Then, breathe slowly through the left nostril. Switch to the other nostril, and repeat the process 3-4 more times.
11. Go barefoot
A great way to shake yourself out of your normal routine, and into a new way of looking at the world, is to go barefoot.
First of all, in the context of a group activity, going barefoot is just plain fun. When everyone takes their shoes off and starts moving around, it brings a new kind of energy into the room.
But more importantly, intentionally observing the world while barefoot can be a great mindfulness activity, especially for those who have trouble with meditation. Walking barefoot is a way to focus on sensations you normally wouldn’t notice.
To get started, have participants take their socks and shoes off and walk around on the carpet or floor. What feelings do they notice? Is there any other surface they can step on? How does it compare? Have them wiggle their toes, move their feet, and really feel the surface of the ground as they slowly pay attention to the experience of walking in a deeper way than before.
This activity pairs well with walking meditation, too.
12. 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.
13. Make a list of things to be grateful for
Life is short, and one of the great risks of life is that we move through it without appreciating the moment that we’re in.
The good news is, 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.)
14. Identify 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.
Learn more about how to identify your emotions.
15. 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.
16. Be self-compassionate
Self-compassion is an essential skill for operating in the world, because so many of us are too 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?”
Check out this list of self love mantras.
17. Try the raisin mindfulness meditation
The raisin exercise is a 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.
My mindfulness practice kicked off in 2016 with a ten-day silent retreat. Since then, I’ve read dozens of books about mindfulness and completed hundreds of hours of meditation. Thinking about what makes humans happy, calm, and peaceful is endlessly fascinating to me.