Recommended Mindfulness Exercises To Improve Your Well-being

Medically reviewed by Dr. April Brewer, DBH, LPC
Updated April 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Mindfulness is a relaxation technique used in many types of therapies, and you can also practice it on your own. Several studies have shown that people who use mindfulness techniques throughout their day have reduced stress levels and an increased sense of well-being. 

Mindfulness may help manage addiction, eating disorders, trauma, anxiety, and other mental health conditions or symptoms. You may benefit from regular mindfulness exercises to improve overall physical and mental health. 

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

Mindfulness can contribute to better mental and physical health

Mindfulness and recommended exercises

Mindfulness refers to being present and aware of the current moment. It can mean acknowledging what you are thinking and feeling and accepting it without judgment. Immersing yourself in the present moment may allow you to be fully aware of everything you’re experiencing.

When you think about an uncertain future or dwell on the past, mindfulness might bring you back to the present moment. Psychologists agree that living in the present is one way to maintain mental health, happiness, and well-being.

You can practice mindfulness at any age. Different exercises may focus on awareness, acceptance, breathing techniques, making lists, coloring mandalas, or replacing unhelpful thoughts with positive, helpful ones. You might also pay attention to your five senses. 

Any moment can become a mindful therapy session if you utilize a certain mindset and focus on what you hope to achieve.

Elements of mindfulness exercises

Many “normal” daily activities can be transformed into mindfulness activities. You can practice mindfulness during your everyday activities when you have gotten practice from more structured mindfulness exercises. 

Experts agree that most mindfulness activities have the following three characteristics:

  • Awareness 
  • Being present 
  • Acceptance


For an exercise to be mindful, you may work on being fully aware of the subject or activity. There are generally three components to mindful awareness: 

  • Stopping
  • Observing
  • Returning

You may struggle to be mindful when doing activities or thinking of other things, so you may start by stopping outside activities or thoughts.  

Second, you can observe your feelings and concentrate entirely on the subject at hand. This subject could be your breath or any object you use for your mindfulness exercise. 

Finally, you might practice “returning.” When your mind wanders, actively return your concentration to observing and being aware of that object or moment. When a thought arises and steals your attention, come back, acknowledge it for later, and release it, returning to the subject at hand.

Present moment 

When you are mindful, you may be living in the present moment. You can observe everything going on at that particular time and place. 

Try to avoid letting your thoughts shift to the future or the past. Think about what you can be aware of through the senses, such as what you are feeling, hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting. 


To be mindful is often to be accepting. You may observe, be aware without judgment or preference, and accept what is happening with curiosity, courtesy, and kindness. When you completely accept the present moment, you might feel much calmer and more mindful of the activities you are performing.

Recommended mindfulness activities

Therapists commonly recommend the following mindfulness exercises. These exercises may be a way for you to stop what you are doing in times of need and be mindful of the moment. Simple mindfulness exercises, such as mindful eating, mindful breathing, and walking meditation, can be integrated into daily life to improve well-being and reduce stress.

Some of these exercises may be practiced in group sessions. However, they can also be adapted to an individual. If you struggle with mindfulness, know that it can often get better with practice. 

The raisin exercise

For this exercise, grab a raisin or similar food with texture, color, odor, and taste. 

  1. Sit comfortably and pick up the raisin. 
  2. Focus first on how it looks. Look at its veins and its pits. What colors is it? 
  3. Next, think about how it feels, and think about the texture. How does it feel on your skin as you manipulate the raisin? 
  4. Take in its smell. Does it smell appetizing to you? 
  5. At the end of the exercise, slowly eat the raisin and focus on its taste.

During this exercise, try to be mindful of changes in your perception of a raisin when eating it mindfully. Have you noticed more about it that you never saw before? 

The body scan exercise

For this exercise, you will lie flat with your palms facing up or sit in a comfortable chair. You should not move during this exercise if possible. If you must shift for comfort, do so slowly and mindfully. 

  1. First, become aware of your breath through mindful breathing. Don’t try to change it; be aware of it.
  2. Next, focus on how your body feels part by part. 
  3. Start with the toes, then move to the feet, the lower legs, knees, thighs, pelvic area, abdomen, chest, back, hands, arms, then the neck, and end with the face. 
  4. Spend at least one minute “scanning” each body part before moving on.

After the exercise, ask yourself how you feel. Do you feel calmer or have more awareness of your body? 


Mindful seeing

This is a great exercise to help promote increased visual awareness of your surroundings. You can redirect your thoughts to the present action of seeing things around you. Go to a room with a window for this exercise. 

  1. Sit comfortably at the window and look outside. 
  2. Observe everything about the scene in front of you. 
  3. Do not try to label items such as stop signs or birds. Instead, focus on colors, shapes, and movements. 
  4. Take in as much of the scene as you can, keeping your mind focused on the colors of the scene in front of you.

You can do this exercise for as long as you need. Focus primarily on how it feels to observe and label the colors of your environment. 

Five senses exercise

The five senses exercise may be recommended for those with anxiety or significant stressors. It is often practiced when you are feeling dysregulated. You can do this exercise quickly without any tools, at any time, to help you ground and center yourself to tackle problems head-on.

  1. First, stop what you are doing and decide that you are going to be mindful for a moment. 
  2. Don’t let what is going on prevent you from doing the exercise. Try to stop all activities and thoughts.
  3. Next, focus on the five senses. Find five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. 

This exercise can be done very quickly if you are pressed for time, or you can take the time to observe each thing you come to as you explore your senses. 

You may also use the senses to create a self-soothing night at home. For example, you might put on comfortable pajamas for touch, light a candle for smell, look at old photos for vision, listen to calming classical music for its sound, and eat a treat for taste. 

Increased awareness exercise

The increased awareness exercise may be practiced at any time with no tools. 

  1. First, stop what you are doing and be present in the moment.
  2. Next, focus on your breathing for six breaths or up to one minute, depending on your preferred time. 
  3. Do not allow thoughts to intrude. If they do, acknowledge them and send them on their way. 
  4. Bring your full awareness to how you are breathing without trying to change it.
  5. Next, expand your awareness of your body. What are you sensing? What are you feeling at this moment? Focus on the sensations like the wind on your skin, the feeling of your clothing, or even any discomfort you might feel
  6. Finally, expand your awareness again to your environment. Take in the colors, shapes, and movements of your surroundings. 

Focus on the colors and shapes rather than labeling items like the blanket you’re sitting on. For example, you might notice that the blanket is soft and white. 

Breathing space exercise

A three-minute breathing space mindfulness exercise may be helpful for those who want to practice mindfulness on the go. This exercise may also benefit those with busy minds who have trouble focusing on a subject.

  1. Stop what you are doing and think, “How am I feeling?” Allow the thoughts and feelings to flow through your mind and give them labels and words. Do this for one minute. 
  2. Next, focus on your breathing for one minute, letting those thoughts go with each breath. 
  3. At the last minute, expand your awareness of your body and how the ins and outs of breath affect it.

This mindful breathing exercise can be practiced anywhere, anytime. Taking deep breaths, focusing on the sensation of the breath entering and leaving the body, and gently bringing the attention back to the breath when the mind wanders can cultivate a sense of calm and awareness.

The leaf exercise

The leaf exercise may benefit those looking for a simple mindfulness practice. It is a simple exercise that only requires a leaf. 

  1. Sit comfortably and focus on a leaf for five minutes. 
  2. Focus on its texture, its colors, and its patterns. 
  3. Trace the patterns with your eye and your mind, maybe even with touch. 
  4. If thoughts intrude, acknowledge them, let them go, and bring your focus back to the leaf.

This exercise encourages mindfulness by fostering a gentle awareness of nature's beauty and inviting a deep connection with the present moment.

Mindfulness can contribute to better mental and physical health

Mindful eating

Mindful eating involves being fully present during meals, paying attention to the physical sensations of hunger and fullness, and savoring each bite. This practice can help individuals develop a healthier relationship with food and foster self-compassion. 

When you sit down to eat a meal, consider the feeling of food in your hand or the feeling of the fork if you aren’t eating finger food. Smell the food. Focus on the different smells of the food and environment. Then, move on to eat the food mindfully. Focus on the texture of it in your mouth and the variety of tastes that it has. Chew very slowly and deliberately. 

This exercise may ground and center you and allow you to grow an appreciation for the meals you eat. 

Mindful observation of thoughts

If you struggle to concentrate because of racing thoughts, this mindfulness exercise may help ground you and bring awareness to the present moment. 

  1. Sit or lie down comfortably and allow your thoughts to flow. 
  2. Acknowledge each thought, then dismiss it. 
  3. Do not try to label the thoughts or put them in a box. Only acknowledge that it is there, then let it go. 
  4. Do this for at least three minutes.

By practicing this exercise regularly, you can develop mindfulness skills and cultivate a sense of calmness, even in the midst of a busy world.

Walking meditation

Walking meditation is a great exercise that combines mindfulness and physical activity. 

  1. Start walking at a slow, deliberate pace, focusing on the movement and sensations in your feet and legs. 
  2. Inhale as you lift one foot, exhale as you place it down, and repeat with the other foot, creating a rhythm with your breathing and steps. 
  3. Observe the sensations in your body, the environment around you, and any thoughts or emotions that arise, but let them pass without judgment. 
  4. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath and the movement of your feet.
  5. Gradually come to a stop, take a few deep breaths, and express gratitude for the experience before transitioning back to your daily activities.

As you walk, pay attention to the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the movement of your body, and the rhythm of your breath. This practice can encourage mindfulness, emotional control, and help you stay fully present in the moment.

Mindful listening

Mindful listening is another important skill that can enhance relationships and help manage anxiety disorders. To practice mindful listening, give your full attention to the speaker, making an effort to understand their perspective without judgment or distraction. This can lead to increased empathy, better communication, and deeper connections with others.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a program that encourages mindfulness in daily life. It may help participants develop a mindful state to cope with mental health challenges, such as stress, anxiety disorders, and addictive behaviors. An MBSR program may consist of weekly group sessions, homework, and other mindfulness-promoting activities like yoga and meditation. 

Mindfulness meditation is a key component of MBSR, allowing participants to develop a consistent meditation practice and experience the benefits of mindfulness in their daily lives. As individuals start practicing mindfulness, they may notice improvements in their emotional well-being and ability to cope with stress. Behavior research studies have found that mindfulness helps with self-compassion and empathy, which are important parts of emotional well-being.

Learn mindfulness with a professional 

If you are experiencing anxiety or live with a mental health condition, mindfulness exercises may help you manage your symptoms. Working with a therapist might be beneficial if you need additional support with these problems or if you want more information about practicing mindfulness.

Experiencing a mood disorder could make it feel challenging to get out of bed in the morning or throughout the day. If you feel this way, online therapy may be a valuable option. Online therapy allows you to get care from the comfort of your home when needed. If your mental health makes it hard to wake up early or stay up late, you can choose session times with your therapist that benefit you most. 

Online therapy has grown in popularity in recent years, backed by research that proves its efficacy. One study found that online therapy is similarly effective to traditional, face-to-face therapy. Researchers also found that those using online therapy were “significantly more satisfied with their treatment than those in the face-to-face group.”

If you want to try this therapy method, consider reaching out to a counselor on a platform such as BetterHelp. Your therapist may be able to notify you of new mindfulness techniques to practice at home. 


Mindfulness, among other techniques, may help you cope with emotions and establish a baseline to return to in times of distress. While you might practice mindfulness on your own, you can also get support from a therapist to learn mindfulness techniques and skills. 

No matter how you choose to confront and work through your emotions, you can have a toolbelt of coping mechanisms to benefit your physical and mental health. If you’re ready to start, consider contacting a counselor for further information.

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