Mindfulness exercises

Practising mindfulness is all about being in the present moment and accepting things for what they are. 

These mindful exercises from the Black Dog Institute, are a handy tool for managing stress and anxiety. [1]

One-minute exercise

Sit in front of a clock or watch that you can use to time the passing of one minute. Your task is to focus your entire attention on your breathing, and nothing else, for the minute. Have a go - do it now!

Breathing exercise

Let your thoughts come into your mind for a few moments, then as you let them float away, redirect your full attention to your breathing.

Pay attention to each breath in and out as they follow rhythmically one after the other. Are they shallow or deep? Long or short?

Where can you feel your breath in your body? Your nose? Your chest? Your tummy?

De-stressing exercise

Sit upright on a chair or with your legs crossed on the floor and gently close your eyes.

Take a few deep breaths. Notice the weight of your body pressing down on the chair or the floor. Notice any sounds, smells or sensations going on around you.

When you’re ready, ask yourself, “What is going on with me at the moment?” Observe any thoughts or feelings that arise and label them – “that’s a sad thought” or “that’s a happy feeling”. Sometimes, just acknowledging these thoughts and feelings can help them feel less intense.

Let the thoughts and feelings float away and bring your attention back to your breathing when your mind gets distracted. The more you practice just observing your thoughts and feelings, the easier it will be to stop getting so distracted by them.

Walking exercise

Concentrate on your breath and the feeling of the ground under your feet while you walk. Observe what is around you as you walk, staying in the present.

Let your other thoughts go, just look at the sky, the view, the other walkers, feel the wind, the temperature on your skin and enjoy the moment.

Eating exercise

Sit at the table with your meal - no newspapers, books, TV, radio, music, or talking. Now eat your meal paying full attention to which piece of food you select to eat, how it looks, how it smells, how you cut the food, the muscles you use to raise it to your mouth, the texture and taste of the food as you chew it slowly.

You might be surprised by how different food tastes and how filling your meal can be when eaten this way – it’s also very good for your digestion!

Mindfulness Apps

If you have a smartphone, there are a range of apps that can help you build mindfulness into your everyday life:

  • Smiling Mind
    An Australian app that is tailored to suit different age groups, including exercises for children and students. Check out their Thrive Inside program designed to support mental health and wellbeing during extended periods of time at home.
  • Headspace
    Headspace recently released a collection called Weathering the Storm, providing a range of free and easy meditations, sleep and movement exercises to help cope with periods of change and uncertainty.
  • Relax Melodies
    Not exactly a mindfulness or meditation app – Relax Melodies provides ambient sounds for sleep and relaxation.

[1] Black Dog Institute. (2020) Mindfulness in everyday life. Sydney, Black Dog Institute.

Page last updated: Friday, 18 March 2022