This post may contain affiliate links (including amazon.com because we participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program). Full disclosure is here.
Self-care activities don’t get much better than meditation, do they?
For years, this has been heralded as THE way to a calmer mind and a freer spirit. In some cases, we’re led to believe that we’ll never find peace unless we master our minds in a tailor-made meditation space. But, as you might have realized, there’s little truth to that claim.
Do you have to meditate?
The truth is that self care looks different to each person, and meditation doesn’t have to feature in your self care routine. In fact, you’d be amazed how many people struggle to sit in a cross-legged position and focus. More often, modern minds are liable to wander, jump, and generally lose interest.
That’s not to say that those who do pursue meditation are doing anything wrong. There’s no denying that the mindset this practice can bring is invaluable for awareness. But, you needn’t give up your quest for mindful fulfillment just because you struggle to achieve those meditation goals.
In reality, there are many things you could do to achieve a mindful state, and any of them could work better for you than traditional meditation. Knowing that, here’s a list of non-meditation mindful practices that could help you in your self care journey…
As they’re incredibly close to meditation in itself, breathing exercises seem like a sensible place to start. Simple exercises such as breathing in for four counts, and breathing out for six counts are a good foundation in both meditation and yoga practices.
But guess what? You don’t have to be on a mat to try this. Breathing exercises can be done on the go, whenever you need some peace or to calm down.
You could try mindful breathing at your desk or on your way home after work, all without feeling guilty that you’re ‘doing it wrong.’ At first, you might not notice much difference, but stick with it. You might find that even one or two quick breathing exercises can help build your awareness of how you’re feeling and what’s going on around you. There are many breathing techniques that could help you, so if you don’t succeed at first, go back to the drawing board and try again – until you reach the state of mindfulness you’re after.
The nature fix
Time in nature has been on the mindful scene for a while now, for obvious reasons. Whether you head out for a walk or just get into the habit of sitting in your garden, the sounds and sights of nature can work wonders for your headspace. So much so that apps like Calm use exactly these triggers as the backdrop for their guided meditations. Lucky for you, you don’t need to add meditations to the mix to feel real mindfulness benefits here.
Instead, you may find that you unconsciously enter a calmer state of mind as you walk through the woods or sit back with your eyes closed in in the park.
This is a fantastic chance to pay more attention to the world with all of your senses, instead of zoning out in front of the TV or gulping down unhealthy foods. Time outside means looking at trees, flowers, and all the natural beauty we often take for granted. Do this often, and you might experience wonderful benefits.
Animals that bring you into the moment
Speaking of nature, consider spending time with animals. You could volunteer at a rescue facility or get a puppy, which you can find more info here. Many animal lovers report that those the self care benefits of taking care of an animal far exceed hours spent on meditation.
Why? Because animals are self-aware, mindful, and incredibly calming. They certainly aren’t concerned with the human emotions we try to relieve or release during meditation, such as envy and regret.
Spending time with animals could bring you a much calmer headspace. This, in turn, can help you become more aware of yourself and your surroundings, which bring you back to the moment.
Hobbies that help you unwind
Mindful hobbies are big business right now, and choosing one could bring you the same benefits of meditation (without actually meditating). Mindfulness coloring is, perhaps, the most popular option on the market, but it’s definitely not your only choice.
Other fantastic mindful hobbies include knitting, gardening, or even heading back to the classroom to learn something new.
Each of these activities can put you in a meditative mindset without you even realizing it because you are fully focused on doing something you enjoy. Many of these mindful hobbies can be done anywhere, no matter where you go. You can open that mindfulness coloring book any time for a quick boost of self-awareness and resolve.
Cleaning your way to a meditative state
Cleaning might not be the first thing you think about when considering self care, but this, too, can be a fantastic meditation alternative. A clean space will help you feel happier and more relaxed at home.
On a more meditative level, cleaning is ideal for keeping your mind aware and active. After all, this is a task you can really get stuck into, and it has a definite end goal that you’re going to work towards. And anyone can do it. All you need to do is stock up on the right cleaning tools and then focus on getting lost in that cleaning task.
Music for the soul
While meditation is an activity that’s often best done in silence, many people find that listening to music provides many of the same benefits. Some calming tunes can change your mood and help you to relieve any frustration you might be feeling, much like meditation!
Instrumental music is best for the soul, as words can be distracting. For some people, soft music with lyrics can still work.
Put the music on, sit comfortably, and let the music sooth you. Now is a great time to practice your breathing techniques too.
As you can see, meditation isn’t the only self care option you have.
In fact, it isn’t even the only way to bring your mind to a place of quiet acceptance. So, if you’ve struggled to self soothe up til now, you might enjoy one of these alternatives: deep breathing, spending time in nature, spending time with animals, starting a hobby, cleaning. or listening to instrumental music.
Here’s the full list of self care activities based on the self care wheel, for you to pick and choose from depending on what you need right now.
What self care activities do you love to do that aren’t listed here?