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5 Mindful Activities…That Won’t Let Your Mind Wander

Everyone has been turning to mindful activities recently for their mental health, here’s a list of ones to chose from!

Image of face with closed eyes and flowers drawn growing out of head.
Credit: Shutterstock/Olga Strel

We are becoming more and more aware of our mental health. Self-care, mindfulness, and self-love have now become more prominent in our day-to-day lives. This is an excellent thing and shows that we are trying to take care of ourselves!

Mindfulness activities are particularly popular, not only for reducing stress, but also because they are fun! Sometimes, though these activities can do the opposite. They can create room for us to think about our issues rather than distract us from them.

Below is a list of five activities that I think distract me rather than giving me time to tie myself into knots with thinking!

1. Crochet

I know what you’re thinking: who crochets anymore? But if the Instagram algorithm works out in your favor, you’ll see that crochet and knitting are becoming increasingly popular. The joy of being able to say that you made something yourself seems to have Gen Z turning to crafting and attempting to perfect the skill. It’s also a great way of relaxing and quickly became one of my favorite mindful activities. My Grandmother taught me how to knit, but it was another couple of years before I got my head around crochet and now it’s even easier to find patterns and tutorials!

Image of hands crocheting with yellow and white wool,
Shutterstock/Oksana Slepko. Granny squares are a great place to start learning to crochet too!

In terms of materials, you really don’t need much: a ball of wool and a crochet hook. These can be found at any craft shop, but what’s absolutely vital is patience! YouTube videos are extremely helpful when you’re starting to learn the stitches however it can take some getting used to. But if you stick with it, learning those basic stitches unlocks a world of fun patterns for you to follow!

Most first-time crocheters start out with a scarf or blanket, but if you’re anything like me, that can end up feeling a bit repetitive. Crocheting the same line repeatedly can be great when you want to disengage your brain for a little bit but not so great when your mind is racing. Crochet amigurumi is a different technique that allows you to make 3D shapes (I’m sure you can imagine the possibilities!) It can be a little bit more challenging, but that’s what’s great about it! Each line presents a brand new challenge for you to conquer.

The patterns can be a bit daunting to look at at first, but there are plenty of fantastic YouTube tutorials and Instagram posts out there. Pinterest is a great resource for finding free patterns and sometimes content creators post free patterns too! As far as mindfulness goes; crochet is a cozy, comfy activity certain to help you relax.

2. Cross-Stitch Embroidery

Cross stitch embroidered heart on hoop.
Shutterstock/New Africa. Aida cloth is used to get neat stitches!

Cross-stitch embroidery is another cozy activity. Yet again, it follows a pattern that will engage your brain and occupy your thoughts. One of my favorite aspects is the colors of thread that are available and how they create unlimited possibilities of what you can make. You can work in neon colors, pastels, black and white and you can create large images or small motifs.

For the materials you need, it’s a little bit more of a commitment than crochet. An embroidery needle and a pack of colored thread are needed, but what’s most necessary is Aidia cloth or Evenweave linen. This cloth lets you make those super neat little ‘x’ stitches that will make up your image!

Patterns are super easy to find and, more importantly, super easy to follow. They look like pixelated images on squared paper and all you need to search for is ‘cross-stitch free pattern’ or ‘pixel art’. Pinterest is amazing for anyone who enjoys crafting and cross-stitch embroidery is no exception. There are hundreds of free patterns there for you to follow!

Cross stitch pattern featuring ladybugs, flowers and bees.
Shutterstock/tka4u4a. Here are some small patterns you could try out!

It’s also super easy to make your own patterns if you want to get your creativity going! All you need to do is grab a bit of squared maths paper and colored pencils, pens or markers and draw away. If you want to get super creative, then cross-stitching is for you!

3. Playing Music

Man strumming an electric guitar.
Shutterstock/4 PM Production

I don’t know about you, but I love listening to music. During the pandemic, I decided to pick up the guitar, and I’m putting that as mindfulness activity number three! The initial few chords that you learn will unlock an unbelievable amount of songs for you to play.

Although an instrument is a bit more of an investment than simply buying a ball of wool or some colored embroidery thread, it is still one of my favorite mindfulness activities. The internet has so many resources for you to use; between YouTube videos and apps, you’re spoilt for information.

I use a free app called GuitarTabs for my sheet music. Like every app nowadays there is a paid premium version, but I think that the free version is perfect! It’s a community-based platform where independent artists, musicians, and people who play as a hobby transcribe their favorite songs into chords or tabs and post them for everyone to see. This means that there are multiple versions of each song, all of varying difficulty, for you to challenge yourself with.

Playing the guitar, or any instrument, is a perfect mindfulness activity. To be able to sit and focus on the music and the song, you can let your mind rest without it running away from you.

4. Reading

Woman reading a book while drinking tea
Shutterstock/New Africa

Reading is one of my go-to mindful activities. Ever since the pandemic, there has been a reading community growing online. Most social media even have sub-categories devoted purely to finding your next read, with BookTok being one of the most popular. If you’re struggling to find something to read, you can start by checking out this article with 8 dark academia book recommendations!

If you’re a quick reader then it can feel as though reading, and in particular book buying, is an expensive hobby. But there are ways around this! Libraries should never be underestimated. It’s free to sign up, and you won’t regret it! Some readers like to own the books they read, though, sometimes revisiting chapters that they like or rereading the entire book. If this is how you feel, then second-hand bookshops are for you! Secondhand bookshops can often have super quirky books for cheap prices!

The ‘Books’ app that comes preinstalled on Apple devices also has affordable eBooks, with the classics being free. But another option is a Kindle. Kindles are a bit more of an investment, but I love mine! They’re small and lightweight, making them perfect for travel. Books are cheaper to buy on them, and I promise you don’t need to buy one of the most up-to-date models. I have one of the earliest models, and it’s still hanging in there!

5. Baking

Image of cookies being put in the oven.
Shutterstock/Pixel-shot. Cookies can be made with a lot of the ingredients you have at home!

Have you got a bit of a sweet tooth? Or can you not stand the thought of something sugary? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then baking is for you. You can make anything from savory sourdough bread to sweet Victoria sponge cakes with basics like flour and eggs that can be found in your cupboard.

Yet again I am pointing you towards the internet for finding your recipes. But baking books are easy to find in bookshops, charity shops, and second-hand bookshops. Some of my go-to websites when baking are The Spruce Eats and BBC Goodfood but when I can’t even think of what to bake then, I check out the Great British Bake Off for some ideas.

When it comes to baking it’s best to follow the step-by-step instructions, but once you learn the basics, you can start to get creative! You can mix and match recipes too, perhaps you love the cake mixture from one recipe but liked the icing from another. Nothing is stopping you from combining them!

Cake is a good place to start with baking, but if you want to challenge yourself, you can try out delicate patisseries such as eclairs or some more hearty bread with proving times!

Not only is baking good for your mindfulness and mental health but you’ll be left with plenty of sweet treats too! You’ll have yourself and your family or flatmates spoilt with your baking in no time. Upon finding one recipe, you’ll find plenty more to try out!

Conclusion

This list is not exhaustive!! There are so many fun activities and hobbies to choose from, and they can be so easy to find. Colleges will have societies or clubs devoted specifically to things such as crochet or reading, along with so many more. Pinterest and Instagram are also great places to search for inspiration! But, it’s important to find something that suits you.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Elena

    January 6, 2024 at 4:39 pm

    Yesss cross stitching is so so fun and helpful when I’m stressed out!!

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