Small Steps For Feeling Grounded
The world feels uncertain right now—with quarantines and social distancing from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all feeling a bit untethered. All in need of a few deep breaths and a practice that keeps us rooted in ourselves. Enter: mindfulness.
Mindfulness is presence, embodied awareness, and connection to our experiences of the world around us. It doesn’t require hours of meditation each day; it does, however, require constant and conscious decisions to remain present in each moment.
Practicing mindfulness isn’t just for the privileged, either. It’s not always prescriptive, and your mindfulness might look different than someone else’s. Let’s hold space for each other as we all focus on connecting more deeply to ourselves and those around us.
We’ve pulled together 99 moments that offer themselves up to our awareness, and allow us to practice a little mindfulness no matter where we’re at. If you have practices that make you feel grounded, please share in the comments below! ✨
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Mindfulness In The Morning
1. When you wake up in the morning, do a body scan. Identify any sensations, comfortable or uncomfortable. Wiggle your toes. Lick your lips. Practice being present in your body.
2. Make your bed and mist it with water and eucalyptus essential oil. (At night, use lavender essential oil instead.)
3. Step outside to breathe the fresh air and get a sense for what the day may bring.
Make your bed and mist it with water and eucalyptus essential oil.
4. Make french press coffee. Grind whole beans with a non-electric grinder for a tactile experience. If you prefer tea, steep loose leaf in a teapot.
5. Hand-wash your mug when you’re done using it.
6. Meditate in the shower. Focus on the smell of the soap and how the warm water feels on your skin.
7. Light a candle and set an intention as you get ready in the morning. How do you feel today?
8. While brushing your teeth, identify one goal for the day.
9. Instead of rushing to the next task, wipe down the sink after you’ve washed your face or applied makeup.
10. Do small favors for your after-work self; in the morning, unload the dishwasher, take out the trash, turn on a diffuser.
11. Stick affirmations on your mirror or write them on labels of products you regularly use, like lotion or chapstick. Recite them aloud, and update them when it feels right.
Wipe down the sink after you’ve washed your face.
12. If you take daily medicine or multivitamins, pour yourself a little extra water and drink it quietly as you reflect on what those medicines or supplements allow you to do.
13. Listen to a news podcast instead of checking Twitter. Opt for reading a paper newspaper. Recycle or compost it if you can.
14. Place your hand on an object you use every day—your coffee maker, your car, your laptop. Extend a moment of gratitude for the object and what purpose it serves in your life.
Mindfulness In Your Routine
15. Wash your produce and rinse your rice slowly and thoroughly as you settle into the rhythm of cooking and nourishing yourself.
16. Eat without media distractions.
17. Practice mindful eating; pay attention to how food tastes and feels on your tongue. Experience how a warm mug curves gracefully in your palms.
18. Fold your laundry neatly and thoughtfully before you put it away; you can try Marie Kondo’s technique, or embrace one that is fully your own.
Practice mindful eating; pay attention to how food tastes and feels on your tongue.
19. Water your plants. Wipe down their individual leaves.
20. As you move about your home, ask yourself, “Am I using everything in this drawer?” Set yourself up for flow by seasonally rearranging your rooms to match your lifestyle. If there’s a kitchen tool that’s always in your way, move it to a lower drawer or pantry, so you only see the daily essentials.
21. Visit the library and borrow a book. Stay awhile and browse the shelves. Turn over the books in your hands, read a few pages. Allow yourself space for curiosity.
22. Listen to music instead of turning on the television.
23. Ground yourself by scrubbing kitchen counters or the bathtub. Pause. Lean back and take in the sight with gratitude and respect for the home that helps sustain you.
24. Hand-wash a garment. Feel the warm water on your hands, hang the garment gently on a drying rack.
25. Turn lights on as you enter rooms, inviting one positive thought with the light. Turn them off when you leave, reminding yourself to release negative thought patterns.
26. When reaching for another cup of coffee or a glass of wine, fill your cup with water instead. Drink it down with a reminder to care for yourself.
27. Replace your usual screentime with a different craft or screen-free hobby.
Turn lights on as you enter rooms, inviting one positive thought with the light. Turn them off when you leave.
28. Pick out an outfit for tomorrow, and make sure it’s clean, steamed, or ironed as needed. Hang it up.
29. At the end of the night, spare a minute or two to sip herbal tea and reflect on the day without judgment.
30. Read a poem or passage aloud. Speak slowly. Feel each word.
31. While you brush your teeth at night, identify one success from the day.
Mindfulness At Work Or Out In The World
32. Focus on your breathing while you are driving, walking, or commuting.
33. Commute in silence. Don’t try to fill the quiet with noise to avoid discomfort; find peace in the stillness of your car or in noise-canceling headphones.
34. Engage yourself in a new way by driving, walking, or biking a different route to work.
35. Allow yourself to doodle while planning your day. If your hand wants to wander into an abstract squiggle, let it.
36. Keep a Bullet Journal, an all-encompassing space for to-do lists, note-taking, calendars, and random thoughts. Give yourself freedom from mental overcrowding. As soon as something (anything) crosses your mind, jot it down.
37. If you sit at a desk, check in with your posture to make sure you haven’t absentmindedly started hunching over. Keep your wrists in a neutral position when possible. Maybe it’s whenever you hit “send” on an email or whenever you notice the hot pink sticky note on your computer.
38. Take a moment to stretch your vision and look away from your screen. What is the farthest thing you can see?
39. Go for a walk on your lunch break and breathe in the fresh air.
Check in with your posture to make sure you haven’t absentmindedly started hunching over.
40. Schedule out time to view your emails and Slack messages. Remove any popups or notifications on your desktop to prevent distractions.
41. Use bathroom breaks to enjoy a few moments of quiet. Maybe do some light stretches in the restroom and check in with how your body is feeling.
42. Close extra browser tabs to remind you to focus on the task at hand.
43. Each time you switch tasks, write down the timestamp and what you are doing.
44. If you are in a place you go every day, look around and notice one thing that you’ve never noticed before.
45. Shut your computer down at the end of the day to signify the end of work. Wipe down your keyboard.
46. Go on a walk without a destination. Leave your phone at home.
47. When you’re walking, keep your head up. Focus on the heel-to-toe movement of your steps.
48. Stop and smell the flowers. Reach out and touch a leaf or a tree trunk. Experience the joy of running your hands or bare feet through grass and earth. Indulge your senses with nature.
Shut your computer down at the end of the day to signify the end of work.
49. Look for loose change on the ground as you walk. Or, look for birds. Or skateboarders. Or blue cars. Focus on one element to keep your mind from wandering into the future or dwelling on the past.
50. Set a budget. Use cash to pay for items so that you always see how much you have left.
51. Set checkpoints throughout the day to check in on how you feel. Name the feeling and acknowledge it: is it worry? Is it stress? Is it hope? No need to implement solutions; simply recognize your feelings.
Mindfulness With Others
52. Hug your partner, friend, or pet for 30 seconds. Speak sweet affirmations to them.
53. Pause to leave a thoughtful, positive comment on a friend’s Instagram share. Direct messaging works, too.
54. If you’re wearing or using something you particularly love, email or tag the brand to thank them for their work. Do this especially for independent artists and makers.
55. Tell your partner what you most want to hear from them today. And then say it to yourself as well.
If you’re wearing or using something you particularly love, email or tag the brand to thank them.
56. Say “no” when your schedule is hectic or when you’re feeling close to burnout. Respect your calendar and take an evening for yourself every once in a while. Don’t be afraid to make plans weeks out in advance.
57. Tell your co-workers or team that you are thankful for their work. Thank your barista for making you a delightful cup of coffee and your mail carrier for delivering your package. Just thank someone.
58. When you are prompted to pass judgment on someone, especially in conversation with others, ask yourself if there’s another perspective to consider. Think twice before engaging in gossip.
59. Inform yourself about slurs and ableist language. Find alternatives for those words and phrases. Embrace it as an opportunity to do better, to learn, to grow.
60. Make eye contact with people you are speaking with.
61. Pause for something silly—text a gif to a friend, tell your partner a joke, or dance it out in your kitchen. Embrace lightheartedness, even if just for a moment.
62. Practice mindfulness with your kids through play, or take a moment to ask them what the happiest moment of their day was.
Make eye contact with people you are speaking with.
63. Instead of asking the same old “how are you?”, ask someone, “what was the best part of your day?” or one of these other questions. Resist the automatic.
64. Practice mindful listening.
65. If you experience overwhelm or stress because of customers or co-workers, practice loving-kindness meditation. Remind yourself to act from a place of love—whether it’s when you respond or how you remove yourself from difficult people.
66. Be direct about your needs. Invite others to be direct with you. There is mindfulness in clarity and direction.
Mindfulness Alone—With Tech
67. Set reminders on your phone to check in on your hydration throughout the day. Take a moment to fill your water bottle, take a sip, and breathe deeply.
68. Turn off push notifications and badges on your phone. (Except your hydration check-ins!)
69. Schedule your media consumption in advance. Are you in the middle of re-watching “The Office”? Put one or two episodes on the calendar for the evening to avoid the endless Netflix spiral.
70. Play a video game that is soothing and helps you achieve a flow state.
71. Before posting something to social media, ask yourself why you feel it’s important to share. If it’s in search of external validation, take a moment to validate yourself instead.
72. Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. The media we consume nourishes us, for better or for worse. Occasionally follow new accounts that feel healthy and supportive.
Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself.
73. Delete Instagram or other distracting apps from your phone when you’re feeling overwhelmed; you can reinstall later.
74. Each time you’re tempted to visit Facebook or Twitter out of boredom, open a note and jot down the thoughts buzzing in your brain. This helps delay checking out old high school crushes and gives you a chance to check in with the “why” behind the urge.
75. If you come up against a non-urgent question, make a note of it and Google it later if it’s still pressing.
76. If you’re overwhelmed with content, choose one piece to read a day.
77. Listen to your favorite song and think deeply about it. What do you like about it? Is it the sound of the singer’s voice? The gentle bass bubbling in the background? The spunky snare?
78. Change your phone and desktop background to a calm reminder. While you’re at it, organize your docs and apps in a way that allows you to use your tech more mindfully.
Organize your docs and apps in a way that allows you to use your tech more mindfully.
79. Use a meditation or breathing app.
80. Create playlists for each part of your day: getting ready, commuting, working, cooking, winding down with a book in the evening. Set the mood and the intention for each action.
81. Go on a photo walk—use your phone to take pictures of beautiful flowers, sights, and other things that brighten your day. You don’t have to share these photos.
Mindfulness Alone—Without Tech
82. Meditate. Keep your mind from wandering by focusing on how the air of your inhales and exhales literally feels against your nose. (It’s often cold for the former, warm for the latter.)
83. Carry a “wallet poem.” Print or write out a poem that you’d like to reflect on and keep it in your wallet or phone case to read when you’re waiting for something.
84. Set aside time (maybe put it on your to-do list) to practice small maintenance rather than cramming it in. Clipping your nails, shaving, trimming nose hairs, applying a face mask.
85. Start a journal. Whether it’s a gratitude journal or a daily diary, note how you feel and how you’re experiencing the world.
Whether it’s a gratitude journal or a daily diary, note how you feel and how you’re experiencing the world.
86. Whenever you see or feel something soft, take it as a reminder to soften. Unclench your jaw, release sharp thoughts, lower your shoulders. Remind yourself that you, too, are a soft creature.
87. Apply hand lotion, and massage it into your fingertips and palms. If it’s scented, take deep breaths and enjoy the fragrance.
88. Invert yourself. Get your head below your heart in a handstand, forward bend, or hanging backward off the bed. It’s a playful posture and a reminder that you don’t have to be so serious all the time.
89. Pull tarot cards, consult your horoscope, connect to a passage in a religious text—look for input from outside resources. These nurture our inner voice, and the wisdom will stay on-hand for when we need it.
90. Ask yourself what you need right now. Is it a bath? A kind word? A cup of water? Get in the habit of asking often. And when you can, deliver.
91. Identify one thing to smile about right now. Maybe it’s a precious dog outside your window, the way the sunlight hits the floor, or a long-missed dust bunny in the corner.
92. Make a list of things you are good at, ways you bring value to others, compliments you have received, times that you feel happiest. Add to it; reflect on it; celebrate it.
93. When you feel frustrated about something, re-frame it with gratitude, empathy, or patience. Ask yourself when you feel tension growing—is there another way to view this situation?
94. Practice yoga geared towards mindfulness. Pair a yoga class with a meditation session. Yoga with Adriene has free classes you can practice at home.
Make a list of things you are good at, ways you bring value to others, compliments you have received.
95. How deep is your breath right now? If it’s shallow or you’re feeling stressed, use one of these simple breathing exercises.
96. The 54321 grounding technique can invite you back into your body. Focus on 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
97. Pause when the sunshine hits your face. Embrace its warmth. Pause when the wind hits your face. Embrace its chill.
98. Look for instances of your favorite color in the world. Pick a new color each day, or stick with the same color and look for new and surprising pops of it wherever you can.
99. Write a note to yourself about a recent accomplishment or moment that you surprised yourself. Revisit it later on a day you need a little encouragement.
What are some ways you practice mindfulness in your daily life? Share in the comments below!
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Emily Torres is the Managing Editor at The Good Trade. She’s a Los Angeles transplant who was born and raised in Indiana, where she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her reading or writing, caring for her rabbits, or practicing at the yoga studio.