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Teens tend to be impulsive. After all, it’s hard not to be when they are young and have not had to deal with the consequences of bad decisions yet.
But one strategy that can help is to practice simple mindfulness exercises that are designed for teenagers.
In this article, we will provide a quick definition of mindfulness and then provide 17 mindfulness activities for teens.
So let’s start with a simple
What are Mindfulness Activities?
Mindfulness activities, put simply, are activities that help a person to be more aware of their thoughts and feelings.
The right activities can help to push a teen past their boundaries. They’ll know who they are and how they feel so that they can start seeking more joy out of life.
It’s one of the best ways to obtain inner peace and avoid the traditional hormonal turmoil that plagues teens every day.
Mindfulness activities for teens can be done alone or with friends. When you have teens, you can recommend activities and exercises from this list that will help them become more aware of who they are, what they do, and the decisions they make.
Now, let’s dive into the specific mindfulness strategies that we recommend.
17 Mindfulness Activities and Exercises for Teens in 2024
Teens don’t want to be told what they have to do but they also need some help in becoming mindful. So, if you’re not a teen looking for activities, just print out the list below – or leave this webpage open so that they can see the list for themselves.
If you really insist on being a part of the process, read through some of the activities and exercises so that you can hand over the supplies or provide the opportunities.
Individual Mindfulness Activities and Exercises
The only one who can really answer what is in a teen’s heart and mind is them – and so, naturally, there are going to be quite a few activities and exercises that should be done by themselves.
1. Write in a Journal
Everyone’s written in a journal at some point in their lives, whether it was for school or to talk about all of the hopes and fears about growing up. Now, you can write in a journal easily enough – and the benefits have been scientifically proven.
Some of the benefits that you can expect include:
Getting started is a matter of grabbing a journal. It can be something fancy that you buy at the local bookstore or it can be a blank document on your computer. Allow yourself to just write about what’s going on in your life.
Don’t worry about filtering yourself or editing. Just write. Then, go back at the end of the day or the week to read it. You may find that you’re able to gain some insight into your innermost thoughts as a way to help you process what’s happening around you.
2. Set up Mantras
There’s a lot to be said about willing positive things into your life. Understanding how mantras work can help to bring confidence and joy into your life. It’s done by constantly reminding yourself that you can achieve anything that you put your mind to.
Mantras can be read, chanted, or even sung. The important thing is that they are said out loud so that you get the benefit of the sound vibrations. Uttering the syllables can unlock something in you so that you can become more self-aware.
Repeating the mantras is particularly important as it holds a certain power. Don’t simply read without being aware. You have to open your mind up. Understand the power of every syllable that comes out as it can open up your stream of consciousness.
There are a few steps to follow when meditating with mantras:
Step 1: Find a mantra that you like.
Step 2: Set your intentions as to why the words are important to you.
Step 3: Get comfortable. Choose a place to sit down. Cross your legs and close your eyes.
Step 4: Focus on your breathing so that you can be aware of when you inhale and exhale.
Step 5: Speak your mantra out loud several times. Feel how the words vibrate on your lips. Feel how the words can resonate through your entire body.
Mantras can be a great way to center yourself. Find new phrases that appeal to you as you go through different internal and external struggles, too.
3. Start Coloring
Coloring is one of the easiest ways to become more mindful – and it’s simple, too. You will be able to find plenty of “adult coloring books” on the market. Find ones with mandalas and swirls. There’s plenty of different themes, so there’s sure to be one that fits your personality.
The process is simple:
Step 1: Grab a coloring book and a set of colored pencils. Be sure that you have a pencil sharpener, too.
Step 2: Turn to a page you want to color and start at it. Be sure that you really focus on coloring in all of the small areas. Change out your color periodically. Appreciate the colors and watch as the design comes together.
Step 3: Practice your breathing. As you change colors, how does it make you feel?
Step 4: Focus on all that you’re doing. Keep your attention on the coloring as opposed to letting your mind wander.
As you color more often, you’ll find that it allows you to stay in the present and become more focused. Don’t allow yourself to relive various aspects of your day – it’s in the past and you cannot control it anymore.
Try to set aside an hour every few days for coloring so that you can find some peace within your busy life.
4. Body Scan
Have you really thought about how amazing your body is? It makes sounds and movements without you ever being aware of it. A body scan is a chance to slow everything down around you in order to be acutely aware of everything.
Choose a place that is quiet and where you won’t be interrupted. Lay down in the backyard and close your eyes under the sun or curl up in a chair in your bedroom. Wherever you decide, be sure that you can be there comfortably for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 1: Assume your comfortable position. Try to be still for as long as possible.
Step 2: Take a deep breath and focus your energy on one part of your body. Release the breath and start becoming observant.
Step 3: Think about what’s happening. What do you feel on your skin? What do you hear inside of your body? What do you smell?
Step 4: Move onto a different body part until you’ve covered everything. As you do this, you’ll become more aware of how your body works, the aches and pains that you have, and more.
Whenever you feel as though the whole world is moving too quickly around you, find a quiet spot to do a body scan. It can be just what it takes to make everything slow down.
5. Drink Tea
Tea can be one of the most soothing beverages. Whether you use a tea bag or you press your own, be sure to get it hot – and start your observations the moment that you pour it into a mug.
Be sure to collect all of your observations from all of the senses – smell, touch, sound, taste, and so on.
Allow the warmth of the mug to warm your soul. Be focused on the entire act of sipping out of the mug and how it feels. With each sip, allow worries of the day to melt away.
You may also want to have some fun with this by choosing some new teas to try. Many are capable of helping you to relax or feel energized.
6. Write a List of Gratitude
In the evening, sit down with a piece of paper or even your phone to make a list of what you’re grateful for. This can be an effective way to ground yourself. It’s easy to forget that there are good things happening when you’re struggling with stress and anxiety.
Be as specific as you can, too. Once you get at least five things on the list, you can put it away for the day.
If you can’t find enough to be thankful for, this may be a lesson in and of itself. Perhaps you’re guilty of a lot of self-sabotaging behavior. If you find that it’s hard for you to be happy and you blame others for not being able to be happy, you’ve already become more mindful – your happiness is in your control.
7. Light a Candle
Lighting a candle is one of the ways to meditate and free the mind. While teens may benefit from a guide to meditation, it can be as simple as offering them a candle for their room. The steps to follow are simple.
Step 1: Light a candle. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It can be any color and any scent. Just make sure that it’s capable of burning for quite a few minutes. As time goes on, you may find that there’s a preferred scent, such as lavender or eucalyptus to calm the mind.
Step 2: Watch the candle burn and flicker for five to 10 minutes. There’s no need to set a timer. Simply watch and let the mind wander.
Step 3: Let your thoughts go to whatever is on your mind. Think about where they’re heading and dismiss each one of them without passing judgement on yourself.
The candle study has become a popular way to introduce people to meditation. If you find that your teen continuously asks for candles for their room, it may be that this exercise is helping them. It can be a great way to think about the day and clear the mind in order to reduce stress.
8. Audit Your Social Media
As a teen, you’re probably spending a lot of time on social media. But how often do you stop to think about how it’s impacting your mental health? A social media audit is a great way to check in with yourself and see if your use of various platforms is serving you or causing you stress.
Step 1: Make a list of all the social media platforms you use, including any that you have an account for but don’t use regularly.
Step 2: For each platform, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I enjoy using this platform?
- Does it make me feel good?
- Do I compare myself to others when I use it?
- Do I feel like I need to spend more time on it than I’d like to?
Step 3: Based on your answers, decide if you want to keep using each platform, take a break from it, or delete your account.
Step 4: If you decide to keep using a platform, set some boundaries for yourself. For example, you might only allow yourself to check it once a day or make a rule not to scroll through your feed before bed.
Step 5: Finally, take some time to unsubscribe from any accounts that regularly post negative or triggering content. You can block users or temporarily silence posts from specific people for a set period on sites like Facebook if their posts are causing you stress. On Instagram, you can set your profile to private, which will give you more control over who can see your posts, who can direct message you, and who can add you.
For more advice about purging and reinvigorating your social media accounts, check out this guide from Sprout.
9. Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are a great way to center yourself and focus on the present moment. When you’re feeling anxious about an exam, the prom, or any other big event, take a few minutes to do some deep breathing exercises and see how much better you feel.
While there are several techniques you can try, one of the simplest is diaphragmatic breathing. This type of breathing engages your diaphragm, a muscle located at the base of your lungs.
When you breathe deeply, your diaphragm contracts and moves downward, pushing air out of your lungs.
Step 1: Sit up straight or lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
Step 2: Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach, just below your belly button.
Step 3: Breath in through your nose, letting your stomach expand as you fill your lungs with air. You should feel your stomach rising as you inhale.
Step 4: Exhale slowly through your mouth, letting your stomach fall back down as the air leaves your lungs.
Step 5: Repeat the process several times, until you feel calmer.
The good thing about breathing exercises is you can do them anywhere. Whether you are on the way to school, on your lunch break, are seconds away from taking your SATs, or are in the middle of a fight with your parents, taking a few deep breaths can help you feel more in control and less stressed.
10. Reflect After a Song or Movie
Have you ever been moved by a song or a movie? Maybe it made you laugh, cry, or think about your life in a different way. This can be easy to do after watching a movie with friends.
However, when you are doing solo watching, that itch to talk about what you’ve seen or heard may have to be put on hold.
Whatever the case may be, taking some time to reflect on your experience can be beneficial.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
You can write down your answers in a journal or talk to a friend about them. Why not use social media to post about what you watched or listened to and start a discussion? Twitter is great for this – for years I HAD to simultaneously watch the “Walking Dead” and participate in the related Twitter watch groups at the same time.
The online interaction/reflection was as great as watching the show itself. You can also look up hashtags for various songs and movies to find other people’s thoughts.
The important thing is to take some time to think about what you saw or heard and how it affected you.
11. Mindful Walking
Mindful walking is a great way to get some exercise and focus on the present moment. All you need is a place to walk and comfortable shoes. If you want to up the ante, you can bring along a friend or family member, but it’s not necessary.
Step 1: Find a place to walk where you won’t be interrupted. If you’re walking outside, pick a route that you’re familiar with so you can focus on your surroundings and not on where you’re going.
Step 2: Start walking and pay attention to your body. Notice how your feet feel as they hit the ground, how your legs are moving, and the sensation of your breath moving in and out of your lungs.
Step 3: As you walk, pay attention to your surroundings. Notice the sights, sounds, and smells around you. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to the present moment.
Step 4: When you’re finished walking, take a few minutes to reflect on your experience. How did it feel to be so present? What did you notice that you wouldn’t have if you hadn’t been paying attention?
Walking is something we do every day, but we often do it without really paying attention to what we’re doing. By being mindful of your body and your surroundings, you can turn a simple walk into a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
12. Observe and Learn from Animals
Whether you have a pet or not, observing animals can be a great way to learn about mindfulness. Animals are good at being in the present moment and they can teach us a lot about how to live in the moment ourselves.
Look at dogs for example! Dogs have no problem playing at any age as long as they can move a little bit. They also love going on walks and taking naps in the sun. Then there are koalas that eat and sleep up to 22 hours a day!
Step 1: Spend time with a pet or go to a zoo and watch the animals. Notice how they move, what they eat, how they interact with other animals, and how they respond to their environment.
Step 2: See if you can find out what kind of life the animal you’re observing lives. For example, if you’re watching a bird, research what kind of habitat it lives in and what its diet is like. Did you know that the hummingbird can fly backwards?
Step 3: Try to imitate the animal’s behavior. For example, if you’re observing a cat, spend some time stretched out in the sun or napping. If you’re observing a bird, see if you can flit from place to place like they do – it could be a great workout!
Step 4: Reflect on your experience. What did you learn from observing the animal? How can you apply what you learned to your own life? If you were reincarnated, what animal would you want to be?
Animals are a great source of inspiration for living mindfully. By spending time observing them, we can learn how to be more present and appreciate the simple things in life. Remember, homo sapiens are animals too!
13. Be Present with Children
Children are natural mindfulness experts. They’re always in the present moment and they don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. They’re also very good at living in the moment and being spontaneous.
Of course, children can also be a handful! But spending time with your younger sibling or cousins can take you back to a time when you were carefree and didn’t have a worry in the world. Being a teen can come with pressure so let yourself have a healthy escape back to childhood when you can.
Step 1: Spending time with children. If you don’t have any younger siblings, see if you can babysit or volunteer in a kindergarten class.
Step 2: Playing with the children you’re with. Get down on the floor and play with them – it’s a great way to relieve stress!
Step 3: Letting go of your adult inhibitions. Be silly, be loud, and be spontaneous. Try not to overthink things – just go with the flow.
Step 4: Reflect on your experience. How did it feel to let go of your adult inhibitions and be a kid again? What did you learn from the children you were with? Children have a lot to teach us about mindfulness.
Their emotions can go from zero to one hundred in seconds. They’re also really good at being in the moment and enjoying the simple things in life. By spending time with children, you can take a break from the teen life and get playful.
Group Mindfulness Activities and Exercises
Let’s continue this list of mindfulness activities for teens, but this time, the recommendations are for a group setting. This means that your teen can round up their closest friends in order to give them a good dose of mindfulness, too.
14. Dance to a Rhythm
Turn up the music, invite all of your friends over, and dance it out. The louder the music, the easier it is to feel the rhythm thump through your body. Allow yourself to, quite literally, feel the music.
When you dance with your friends, it’s a way to bond and have some fun. Don’t worry about who has the best dance moves.
Step 1: Find some music that you love, but that you don’t necessarily know the words to. This will prevent you from singing along. Move to instrumental music if you find yourself wanting to sing along.
Step 2: Focus on what you’re doing, not what your friends are doing. Be mindful of how your body reacts to the different beats in the music. What emotions are you feeling?
Step 3: When the music is over, chat about what you each felt about the music. How do your feelings differ from the ones your friends are feeling?
15. Attend a Yoga Class
Yoga can be a fun way to bond with your friends while also helping you to become more aware of who you are and what’s going on inside of your body. Yoga focuses on stretching the body while also breathing more deeply.
Find a class that you like – a local studio or something online. Roll out a yoga mat and follow along. Be sure that you pay close attention to your breathing within each pose. As you do this more and more, you’ll find that you can push your body more each time.
There are many benefits of yoga, and it’s not all about mindfulness. It can:
You don’t even have to attend a professional yoga class. Start one on your own – either in the park or even your backyard. Share some optimism quotes to get everyone in the mood. Then, work on your breathing and the various poses. There are plenty of books to provide inspiration. You can always stream a yoga class from an iPad or tablet, too.
16. Start Cooking
Cooking can be very therapeutic, and it’s more entertaining in a group setting. You can decide to bake cookies or whip up a four-course meal. A lot of it will depend on what you and your friends are capable of. Do a skills assessment and head into the kitchen.
Step 1: Find a recipe that you can all agree on.
Step 2: Divide up the tasks so that everyone plays a role.
Step 3: Prepare the ingredients. Focus on the textures, flavors, and smells. Listen to how everything sounds as you cut, mix, and sauté.
Step 4: Sit down with your friends with the food that you have made. Talk about the flavors and see what everyone picks up on. Learn to appreciate every aspect of the food and respect that you have made it on your own as opposed to buying it from the store.
Cooking can help you to appreciate the hard work that goes into the foods you eat. Plus, it gives you a chance to slow down and stay in the moment. As you and your friends start to make cooking a more regular activity, you may decide to explore new recipes and cookbooks, too.
17. Work on Puzzles
Puzzles can be fun for all ages. Find a puzzle that appeals to everyone in the group. Whether it’s a 2D puzzle with 500 pieces or it’s a 3D puzzle with ten times more the pieces, it can be a great tool to teach mindfulness.
Step 1: Gather everyone around a table.
Step 2: Dump out the pieces to the puzzle.
Step 3: Allow everyone a turn at putting in a piece of the puzzle. Continue to go around the table so that everyone is equally and actively engaged.
Step 4: Have everyone ask questions internally. Why were mistakes made? Why is there frustration or anger when pieces don’t fit?
Once the puzzle is finished, it can provide a sense of accomplishment. Think about how long it took and how long it would have taken if there were no frustrations in place.
Final Thoughts on Mindfulness Activities for Teenagers
It’s better to start introducing your teen to being more mindful now so that they can learn how to develop inner peace.
The next few years of their lives are only going to get more stressful, so they need to be in tune with their emotions, their behaviors, and their actions. Individually or as a group, teens need all the help they can get.
And if you want to get more information on this topic, then we also suggest checking out these 9 mindfulness activities for adults.
Finally, if you want a simple way to reduce your stress and anxiety, then try writing these 35 mindfulness journaling prompts to live more in the present moment.