Mindfulness may seem like a recent wellness trend, but it’s been around for a lot longer than we have. And no, you don’t need to use an app to practice mindfulness. In fact, there are plenty of mindfulness activities for adults and older adults that can help with relaxation, improve brain function, and reduce stress — all vital components of healthy aging.
And there’s more good news: These mindfulness activities are free and don’t require any special equipment or special skills. Here are seven mindfulness activities for adults and older adults, including some that work for groups.
Free Mindfulness Activities To Try
1. Ten Minutes of Joy
We’re more likely to stick to something if we establish it as a routine. And usually, when we talk about forming new habits, it’s in the context of getting ourselves used to something that we don’t necessarily enjoy (like exercising or eating well). If dedicating time to mindfulness activities like meditation or journaling isn’t something you’re looking forward to, schedule 10 minutes to do something you truly enjoy. That way, it’ll be easier to spend 10 minutes doing something you feel like you need to do, Jaya Jaya Myra, a wellness and mindfulness expert, suggested to The Extra Mile.
2. Guided Meditation
If you’ve tried meditating in the past but kept feeling your mind wander, you might have better luck with a guided meditation. We like this one from the Center for Elders’ Independence.
3. Deep Breathing Circle
Deep breathing is a mindfulness activity that can improve blood pressure, relieve stress, lower heart rate, and help manage anxiety. For those new to deep breathing, it can help to start with an exercise, like this one from A Place For Mom:
- On a piece of paper, draw a large circle.
- Draw a small mark directly at the top and bottom of the circle.
- Trace your finger in a clockwise direction along the circle, moving from the mark at the top to the mark at the bottom. Inhale slowly as your finger moves toward that bottom mark.
- When your finger hits the bottom mark, start tracing your finger back up towards the top. Exhale slowly as you go.
- Try to keep a slow, measured pace as your finger traces the circle.
- Focus on your breathing — feel the movement of air in and out of your lungs.
4. Chair Meditation
People at any age can combine gentle movement with mindfulness practices, like this chair meditation from Paul Eugene.
5. Body Scan
A body scan lets you tap into how your body is holding onto what’s going on in your mind. Not only are they relaxing, but body scans can also help make you more aware of your body. Bonus? They can be done on your own or with a group. Here’s a sample body scan exercise from A Place for Mom:
- Lie on your back. Your palms should be facing upward, your feet slightly apart.
- Close your eyes. Center your focus on steadying your breathing.
- Turn your attention to your feet. Are they holding any tension? If so, find it and release it.
- Move slowly up the body, focusing on one part of the body at a time — seeking out tension and releasing it. Do this from your toes up to your head.
- Once you’ve worked your way up your entire body, return your attention to your breath. Do you observe any changes?
- Open your eyes. Take note of any differences you feel in your body.
6. Mindful Chair Yoga
Yoga is closely associated with mindfulness, and there’s good reason: It helps us center ourselves and focus our breathing, allowing us to be fully present in the moment. Try this video from Yoga with Kassandra either by yourself or with a group.
7. Taking a Walk
Not everyone can sit quietly and meditate, but there are still plenty of mindfulness activities for adults that include some movement. One example? Taking a walk. Blue Moon Senior Counseling explains the process:
“Find a quiet, peaceful place to take a walk. Focus on the physical feeling of walking. Notice how your feet feel on the ground, and pay attention to the rhythm of each step. Then, focus on your surroundings. What do you see and hear around you? Are you cold or warm? Do you feel a breeze on your skin? The goal is to be fully aware of your environment, your body, and your mind as you walk without letting your mind wander too much.”
If you’re able to take a walk in nature — or at least a street with a few trees — that’s even better!
8. Listen to Music
To center yourself and calm your body down, turn on instrumental music. Unfamiliar songs with words can disrupt your focus and thoughts. Play sounds that are filled with noises from nature or classical or acoustic music. Listening to tunes also taps into the dopamine in your brain which can reduce stress and put you in a great mood.
9. Stop and Smell the Roses
Create a soothing exercise using scented candles, flowers, or oils. Smells like lavender and peppermint have calming effects. Encourage the kids to take a whiff and describe how each fragrance makes them feel or memories they evoke. Each week introduce a fresh bout of smells like roses, vanilla, or ginger. There are many scents to explore, and eventually, they can make their own customized perfume or oil blend.
Coloring isn’t just for the kids. There are coloring pages for adults that provide a sense of nostalgia and peace. Here’s why: When coloring, you are doing an activity that takes attention away from yourself. This helps you stop thinking about the things that stress you out. It also relaxes your brain and is an enjoyable activity that is low pressure and easy to do.
11. Emotion Jar
Make an emotion jar by filling up a mason jar with water and glitter or sand. Then shake it around. Sit and watch as the sand or glitter separates from the water. While you do this, think about your stress and potential solutions. This pushes you to confront your frustrations. It also reminds us how confusing our emotions can be and how important it is to still your mind and body.