Mindfulness meditation benefits everyone who makes it part of their daily routine.
Even a few minutes of it every day can make a big difference in your overall self-awareness, not to mention your stress levels and the quality of your sleep.
The exact benefits will depend on the specific mindfulness activities you choose and when you practice them.
Welcome to our list of mindfulness activities for seniors.
We hope you find a new favorite.
- 11 Mindfulness Activities for Seniors
11 Mindfulness Activities for Seniors
As we get older and recognize the brevity and fragility of life, mindfulness becomes a practice that is essential.
By grounding ourselves in the present, we understand that this moment is the only moment.
These exercises will help you appreciate every precious minute of your life.
1. Practice Mindful Breathing
Lie down or take a comfortable seat, if you can. You can also do this while standing or even walking, but the more attention you can focus on your breathing, the better.
If it’s safe to do so, close your eyes. Start by inhaling deeply through your nose or mouth for about four seconds. Hold your breath for up to four seconds before slowly releasing it to the count of seven or eight. Pause for up to four seconds afterward.
If this pace doesn’t work for you, try different counts for your inhales and exhales until you find one that helps you feel calmer and less frantic for air.
Keep this breathing pace up for a few minutes or for as long as you like, paying attention to the sensations in your body as you inhale, hold, exhale, and pause.
2. Try Mindful Exercise
Whether you’re taking a walk, going for a swim, or just running errands on foot, take a moment while you’re on the move to check in with yourself and practice body awareness.
You can practice mindfulness with a variety of different types of exercise:
- Strength training
- Tai Chi
Pay attention to how your body feels with each movement. If you can, take a moment to close your eyes and look inward. Feel how your body is moving and adapting to each new position. Pay attention to your lungs, heartbeat, and every sensation you can identify.
What is it you like about this particular type of exercise?
3. Take Up Journaling
Journaling gives you an outlet for all the annoying, distracting, and overwhelming thoughts swimming around in your head, banging into things, yelling at you when you thought all was quiet and you could finally relax – and then you can’t.
Get those thoughts onto a page, and suddenly you have to deal with them. Write it down, and you can’t help paying closer attention to those thoughts and what they mean.
It’s easier to pin down your own automatic tendency to judge those thoughts as good, bad, or just there. You’re more likely to ask yourself, “Is that really true?” when you jump to conclusions or snap judgments about an experience or about someone you know.
Pay attention to how you feel when you write those thoughts down and when you’ve finished. What sensations pass through you?
How has your mood changed while writing, and once you’ve chosen to stop?
4. Follow a Guided Meditation
Meditation for elderly people is pretty much the same as meditation for anyone else. Whether you’re lying down, sitting up, or standing, you can find a guided meditation that helps you practice mindfulness.
YouTube is full of guided meditations you can try. Just look up “guided meditations” plus any modifying terms you want to include: lying down, sitting, healing, breathing, etc. The tricky part is deciding which one to start with.
Go with your gut and pick one or a few to test them out. See what you like and what you can do without. Then keep looking until you find the best fit (at least for now).
Then, all you need to do is make time for it.
5. Work at Mindful Stretching
Stretching is another exercise that works well with a total body scan. Whether you’re sitting, standing, or lying down (or doing some of all three), pay attention to how your body feels with each stretch. Listen to it as you slowly test each muscle.
Yoga is an excellent exercise choice as it incorporates and encourages mindful stretching. Still, you can also make this part of your preparation for a daily walk or as part of your morning routine.
6. Take Up Gardening
Whether you’re working in an outside garden or flowerbed or just tending to an assortment of container plantings, mindfulness can be part of this exercise, too.
Pay attention to every detail you can observe as you water and feed your plants, pluck out any weeds, and look them over for signs of stress or disease. What do you feel when you see a new bud or bloom with flowering plants?
With fruiting plants or vegetables, what do you notice as it begins to yield — or what do you feel when you harvest some of their produce?
What does this garden do for your surroundings? How does it affect you when you see it?
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7. Play Mind Games
Make time for your favorite mind games, whether you prefer jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, crosswords, or something else. Games like these help keep your mind sharp by challenging it. Vary the games to vary the challenges and make your game time more enjoyable.
You don’t have to play alone, either. Playing board games with friends also sharpens your thinking and practice mindfulness.
Pay attention to the details in the game — the design of the board (colors, textures, font styles, etc.), the player pieces, the cards, and whatever else is involved. Pay attention to the faces and body language of the other players.
What can you notice that you haven’t noticed before? And what thoughts come to mind as a result of these observations?
8. Go for Some Music Therapy
Just listening to music gives you an excellent chance to practice mindful listening and body and thought awareness. Choose music you enjoy, whether it relaxes you or helps you feel more energized, and just allow yourself to notice the details in the music.
Pay attention to how those details affect you. What do you think as you play this music? What images and stories come to mind? What do you like most about a particular song?
If the song makes you want to move, ask yourself why. How do your movements affect your thinking and the images in your mind? Whose face comes to mind?
9. Try Adult Coloring
You don’t have to be a talented artist to create something beautiful with color. The variety of coloring books and pages for adults — and the quality of colored pens (brush and fine-tip) — make it easier than ever to find a coloring project you can enjoy.
Be careful to choose markers with tips that don’t set your nerves on edge every time you drag them across the paper. If you can’t find any, consider using coloring pencils instead.
Or, if you prefer, you can also use a coloring app on a tablet and color each tiny section of an image with your fingers. Do whatever you’re likely to enjoy the most. If you’ve always wanted to try painting, go for it using a specific method you’ve seen on a YouTube video.
The point is to find a way to enjoy creating something with color. Notice how the colors blend when they do and how the different tints and shades affect the piece’s overall mood. Notice how you feel as you work on it, immersing yourself in the details.
10. Enjoy Mindful Eating
You eat anyway (we hope), so why not spend at least some of that time consciously savoring every mouthful. Pay attention to the feel of each bite in your mouth, the sensations from your tastebuds, teeth, and tongue.
Notice how your throat feels when you swallow your food. Notice any other bodily sensations, including those not related to the food you’re eating — from the growling of your stomach to the way your back feels against the chair.
What exactly do you most enjoy about eating this particular food? How do you feel — physically and emotionally — as you eat it?
How is it different from what you feel when you eat something you enjoy less?
11. Practice Mindful Reading
Read something that challenges your mind or offers you a pleasant escape from your daily responsibilities. While you’re reading, take a moment to assess how and what you’re feeling and what physical sensations you’re experiencing.
Listen, too, for any automatic thoughts that echo negative self-talk or that react to any inspiration and hope like t-cells fighting an infection.
You can easily combine this with mindful journaling or note-taking to capture any ideas that come or any thoughts or feelings that rise to the surface.
Set a time for your first mindfulness exercise (the one you’re just itching to try), and block out at least 15 minutes for it.
It doesn’t have to go perfectly the first time (or ever); mindfulness is about being present and accepting whatever happens without judging yourself or your thoughts.
Something happens when you make time for being “all there” for yourself. Enjoy it.