When was the last time that you took a break in your day to just be? Our society puts so much focus on being busy. We’ve got work and/or school, keeping our house clean and organized, family and friends time, the list could go on and on. If we aren’t careful we can get caught up in the busyness and lose ourselves in the process. That is why making time for yourself is important.
The best way to do this is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can be much more than meditating. If you aren’t a fan of meditating don’t count out the ability to be mindful, and the importance of it. Today I’m sharing some, more hands-on, activities that can help promote mindfulness. These are great ways to overcome creative blocks and dig deep into what matters to you.
All of these activities center around art, but don’t worry if you aren’t an artist. The point of each exercise isn’t perfection, it’s mindfulness. Before we get to the list I’m sharing more about what mindfulness is and the benefits of practicing it.
What Is Mindfulness?
According to mindful.org, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
As I mentioned before, we are constantly surrounded by the busyness of life. So much so that when we aren’t busy our mind tries to figure out what we can do to be busy. Thoughts of what you should be doing right now, replays of how you could have done ___ better, or even running lists of what the next day holds invades your downtime.
Do we really get rest if we are constantly thinking about being busy? This is why mindfulness is important. It takes us away from the thoughts that fill our mind and brings us to the present moment. The concept of mindfulness can be hard to digest at first but you’ll eventually find it easier to do as you try these mindful activities.
Why is mindfulness important?
The benefits of a mindfulness practice extends beyond your thoughts. It can also help with memory, stress, and even your health. By being more mindful on a regular basis you may experience better sleep, help with chronic pain, and even a boost in your immune system.
To read more about these benefits, and more, check out this article. If escaping the busyness of life isn’t enough of a reason to start practicing mindfulness, I’m sure these health benefits will have you thinking twice about how important mindfulness is.
27 Mindfulness Art Activities
The time has come to get into the list of mindful exercises! These mindfulness tools are a great way to slow down and tap into your deepest self. Remember, the focus shouldn’t be on how creative you can be. It’s all about slowing down and tuning into your mind. I’ve separated the list in terms of types of art activities. I also urge you to lean into expressive art when you have the time – it does wonders for mental health!
There are many different ways to practice mindfulness and different mindfulness activities listed here. You don’t have to do them all to see a benefit! Stick around after the list for a special challenge!
In this category you’ll find activities to inspire you and some that help you relax. Remember, if you notice your mind start to fill with thoughts about other things, gently bring your focus back to the present moment.
- Create a Vision Board: Instead of focusing on all that stresses you in the present, spend some time letting yourself dream of what could be. Where have you always wanted to go? What have you always wanted to do? Check out our guide to vision boards here. This is a fun way to get into mindful practices every quarter!
- Color in a Coloring Book: We’ve all seen those adult coloring books. Why not pick one up and spend time coloring? There are many free coloring pages available online.
- Flower Art: This is a fun mindful art exercise. To take it up a notch try going to a flower field or on a walk to find the flowers for this project. Your creative process doesn’t have to look a certain way!
- Inspiring Collage: Are there any quotes, pictures, colors, etc. that inspire you? Put them all together on a poster board. Then hang your creation up so that you can see it anytime you need inspiration.
- Create an Emotion Wheel: Use this emotion wheel printable and assign colors to each emotion. Take it a step further by committing to track your moods each day for a month using the wheel.
If you enjoy painting you’ll love these exercises. These are great for relaxing and expressing how you are feeling.
- Scrape Painting: This is a project that is simple to do. The mindful part comes in by focusing on different drop techniques to make different designs. Once the paint dries, try writing an affirmation on the card. Then you can stick it on your mirror and say it every day.
- Bubble Art: Here is another fun project you can do. This one works great for paying attention to your breath. You’ll be able to see how different breaths can make different designs.
- Emotional Art: Think of how you are feeling right now and put brush to paper. What does your emotion look like? Don’t think too much about what to paint, just let your hand takeover and go from there. Mix up your medium and use oil pastels, watercolor paints, or even finger paint. It’s a beautiful way to connect with yourself.
- Paint by Number Kit: Remember those color by number pages we used to do as kids? Think of that but by using paint. These are fun and require a lot of focus. I recently did this kit and loved it. This is a wonderful way to explore art as therapy too!
- Rock Painting: Find some smooth rocks and try painting something on them. As an added bonus you can hide it somewhere for someone else to find. It might make their day a little brighter. You might see these also referred to as mindfulness stones.
All you need for these activities are paper and pencils, pens, or markers – whatever you prefer. Most of these activities promote reflection of yourself and being mindful about your mind and body.
- Hand letter Affirmations: Write down some of your favorite affirmations.Play around with different designs and flourishes.
- Draw Your Breath: This is an interesting mindful art exercise that helps you get more in-tune with your breath. This can be especially helpful for anxiety and anxiety disorders. Note your breath change throughout the exercise. You’ll likely see yourself breathing more deeply and more slowly as you progress.
- I Am Art: That voice in our head likes to bring us down and point out the worst. Turn that around by drawing and writing out what you like about yourself.
- Body Scan: Print out, or draw, an outline of a body. Think about how your body feels right now and color the body in the way you feel. For example, if you have a headache you may want to color the part of your head that hurts red.
- Brain Dump: Write and doodle whatever comes to your mind. This is great for emptying your mind and is a simple activity that has huge results. This is a mindful exercise you can do at any time.
- Draw Mandalas: Learn how to draw these through this tutorial. You’ll learn to create beautiful patterns in no time. You can even make a word mandala if you want.
Even though these activities don’t fit in a specific category, they make great mindful art exercises. Some of them are more complex than others, and take more time. Be aware of that as you are planning your mindful art time.
- Balloon Traits Project: I did this project in 2020 after having a breakthrough in counseling. It was incredibly empowering, and definitely made me more mindful about how I describe myself. This gets messy though, so fair warning. Here is a video I made about my experience.
- String Art Craft: This is a project that requires focus, and the end result is awesome. Learn how to do it here.
- Self Care Box: Get a shoebox, or some other type of box and fill it with things you use to practice self care. Some things I have in mine are fuzzy socks, a hairbrush, a book, and inspirational quotes. Here’s our guide to an emergency self-care kit.
- Make a Dreamcatcher: Another fun project that you can hang up after. Check out the tutorial and make one for yourself.
- Photography Challenge: Take a stroll and find something to photograph. Photo challenges give you something specific to focus on.
- Sculpt with Play-Doh: Bring out the inner child in you and sculpt with some Play-Doh. This would make a great stress ball as well.
These projects are a bonus because the activity itself may not need a lot of mindfulness. It promotes daily mindfulness instead. All you need is a jar, a cup could even work if needed, paper, and something to write with.
- Affirmation Jar: write down some affirmations and put them in the jar. Each morning draw one out and make that your affirmation for the day.
- Gratitude jar: At the end of the night write down one thing that you were grateful for. At the end of the week/month/year – whatever you prefer – take them out and see what you wrote. This is also fun to do with family members.
- Happiness Jar: Similar to the Gratitude Jar, write down one thing at the end of the day that made you happy.
- Self Care Jar: Write down a list of self care activities. Each time you feel like doing some self care, but aren’t sure what, draw a paper out of the jar. Whatever paper you get is the activity you do.
- Glitter Jar: Glitter jars are great sensory activities and are often used for young children for this exact purpose. Art therapists often use it too. Try this glitter jar tutorial.
A Mindful Art Challenge
Now that you have an idea about how you can spend time being more mindful or overcome a creative block, are you up for a challenge?
For the next two weeks I want you to pick an activity from this list to do each day. If you want to do the same activity multiple times that is okay too! Start trying to incorporate at least one mindful moment in everyday. These creative activities and mindful art projects will have a massive impact on your overall wellbeing. You don’t even have to do them for a long time to see results.
Document how you feel before the activity and how you feel after. I’ll be doing the challenge as well and posting it on my Instagram account. If you decide to post your mindful art activities on social media, tag us (@gentwenty) so that we can cheer you on. Click here to download the PDF version.
Will you be joining us in the Mindful Art Challenge? Let me know in the comments below.