Life is often filled with stressful periods and challenging times. However, one way of relaxing is through mindfulness8. This simple, yet effective way of relaxing, enables the mind to be fully aware of what is happening in the present moment. It calls on your senses, allowing you to observe what is going on around you. While some may think that practising mindfulness is boring, there are many fun mindfulness exercises that can make the entire experience an enjoyable one.
Mindfulness is the ability of an individual to be fully aware of the present moment1. This relates to where they are and what they are doing without becoming anxious or concerned about their surroundings.
While this might seem like a fairly menial thing, often, we allow our minds to take over. This can lead to a range of mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and worry. So, by paying attention to the here and now, mindfulness can bring you back to the present moment.
Being mindful allows us to enhance our awareness, and while the mind wanders, it allows us to bring ourselves back. It can help to improve performance, enhance attention and aid us to be more aware of others around us5. Effectively, when we engage in mindful behaviour, we take time for ourselves and pay attention to the mind and how it works. This enables us to experience mindfulness-based stress reduction7 and lead a peaceful life with greater control. There have also been many studies that have indicated a wide range of mindfulness health benefits through the reduction of stress and being present.
Further Reading: What Is Mindfulness? How Does Mindfulness Help Us Seize The Day?
At this moment in time, you might feel as though mindfulness is simply meditation. Of course, there are similarities but they are not the same thing. There are many different forms of meditation and there are some that incorporate elements of mindfulness. However, meditation and mindfulness achieve different goals. You can experience mindfulness at any time regardless of what you might be doing. Whether you are cleaning, cooking or working, you are aware of your thoughts and you notice the feeling of different sensations that you are experiencing in the present.
Mindfulness can be practised by everyone. From young children through to the elderly3, everyone can experience the benefits of mindfulness. So, try these fun mindfulness exercises.
If you thought that colouring was just for the children then it is time to think again. In recent times, adult colouring books have become one of the most popular fun mindfulness exercises. Adult colouring books are very different from those for children. The patterns are intricate and detailed and so, it requires a certain focus on the task in hand. This encourages the presence of mind. And it doesn’t require you to be the best at colouring. Children can also get involved with their own colouring books4. Allow them to get creative while paying attention to what they are doing. The focus will help them to concentrate on the present moment.
Mindfulness is not something that you have to practice alone. This game is perfect for groups and families. It brings together mindfulness listening, communication and it helps people to gain an understanding of what mindfulness is all about6.
The name of the game is made up of two Dutch words “Vertel eens” which simply means “tell us more”. Therefore, the basis of the game is to converse and answer questions. The game helps players to engage with each other through delving into the questions. This eventually leads to them creating a deeper connection with other players.
The game has a total of four rounds, with rounds one and three based on the past and the future. They look at what has happened over the last 12 months while also looking at what the next 12 months could hold. The players can then tell stories where other players can ask questions. In rounds one and two, players then have the chance to guess things about each other. Here they can win points, with the person with the most points being the winner. It is a fun and interactive game that gets younger players interested in the practice of mindfulness without it being too intense.
Again, mindfulness is not just for adults. It is important that we encourage children to try it and become familiar with it. This game provides children with the chance to try it through body poses. The children are told that they can feel happy, brave and strong when they do the fun poses.
Find a quiet place that they are familiar with and in particular somewhere they feel safe and then give them specific poses to try.
You can begin with the Superman pose. Where they stand with their feet apart and their fists clenched. They then reach for the sky and stretch as much as possible.
The next pose is the Wonder Woman Pose. Ask the children to stand tall with their legs apart and their hands placed on their hips. After they have completed the poses, you can then ask them how they feel and how their muscles felt in different poses. Their answers will surprise you but of course, this is something that the adults can try too if they wish!
This is an exercise that can be enjoyed by adults and children. It begins with a bell being rung and asking all participants to list to the vibration of the sound. They must remain quiet and when they stop hearing the bell, they must raise their hands. They then have to remain silent for a further minute, where they then focus on other sounds. Once the additional minute has come to an end, it is time to ask about the sounds that they heard. This is a great game that can heighten interest in mindfulness and demonstrate its benefits. The aim of the game is to help them connect with the present moment while also understanding their perceptions.
This is one of those fun mindfulness exercises that people of all ages can do. However, adopting a similar approach to that of Yoga, being focused on breathing and stretching can help to create a feeling of calm. Children will love getting into strange poses and stretches while the adults can add relaxing music if they wish.
This fun mindfulness exercise is all about being aware of how the body feels. From muscle relaxation to the feeling of stress release, this is an exercise that can be enjoyed by all.
Participants will need to lay on their back and then slowly tense up the muscles in the entire body. They then hold this for anything between 10 and 15 seconds before they release and relax. At this point, you can ask what they felt and whether they could differentiate between feeling tense and feeling calm. This is a game that is perfect for people of all ages.
We have so much natural beauty around us that it offers us the chance to embrace mindfulness in a unique way. A mindfulness walk provides the ideal opportunity to focus on the surroundings as well as the sounds2. Take a stroll through a quiet woodland area or large fields and allow the mind to focus on the present. It gives you the chance to embrace the moment in all its glory.
Everyday life can be full of challenges and stresses. Through being aware of our surrounding environment and understanding the feelings that come with being in the moment, we can face these challenges. Fun mindfulness exercises, when done regularly, allow us to fix the mind in the present moment. This stops the mind from wandering and fixing on past experience and anxieties. This enables us to deal with challenges through a clear mind and a certain calmness.
This conscious mindset that develops through mindfulness enables us to free ourselves from the inability to focus on the present. This can hold us back but that change of focus and understanding of positive emotions can increase compassion and enhance our ability to understand others.
However, the art of mindfulness is something that people of all ages can enjoy. Especially through fun mindfulness exercises. Regardless of age, we all face challenges and anxiety at times in our lives. The aim of these mindfulness games is to make it an enjoyable experience while also encouraging people to practice mindfulness. A simple approach to mindfulness can help to enhance focus and that ability to live in the moment, proving that the mind is a very powerful tool indeed.
|Shapiro, S. L., & Carlson, L. E. (2009). The art and science of mindfulness: Integrating mindfulness into psychology and the helping professions. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/11885-000|
|Alberto Chiesa, Raffaella Calati, Alessandro Serretti, Does mindfulness training improve cognitive abilities? A systematic review of neuropsychological findings, Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 31, Issue 3, 2011, Pages 449-464, ISSN 0272-7358, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2010.11.003.|
|Acceptance and Mindfulness Treatments for Children and Adolescents: A Practitioner's Guide. Laurie Greco, Steven Hayes. New Harbinger Publications, 2 Jul 2008|
|Kuyken, W., Weare, K., Ukoumunne, O., Vicary, R., Motton, N., Burnett, R., Huppert, F. (2013). Effectiveness of the Mindfulness in Schools Programme: Non-randomised controlled feasibility study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 203(2), 126-131. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.113.126649|
|The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. By Brown, Kirk Warren, Ryan, Richard M. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 84(4), Apr 2003, 822-848|
|Janet Beavin Bavelas & Linda Coates (1992) How do we account for the mindfulness of face‐to‐face dialogue?, Communication Monographs, 59:3, 301-305, DOI: 10.1080/03637759209376271|
|Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt, Oh. 2010. The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Therapy on Anxiety and Depression: A Meta-Analytic Review|
|Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L. E., Astin, J. A. and Freedman, B. (2006), Mechanisms of mindfulness. J. Clin. Psychol., 62: 373-386. doi:10.1002/jclp.20237|