We’re a few months into 2024 but regardless of how your resolutions fared (confession: we didn’t end up waking up at 5 AM to run each morning either), it’s not too late to make this new(ish) year a great one. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to set yourself up for a healthier and happier future. 

Why try mindfulness exercises for the New Year?

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and have complete awareness of any given moment: the external (what we see, what we hear), and the internal (how we feel, what we’re thinking). The benefits of getting into a mindfulness habit are many: greater emotional control, lower stress, improved physical well-being, and improved cognition and memory. 

8 of the Best Mindfulness Exercises

This type of cognitive exercise is most commonly developed through the ancient practice of meditation. Meditation typically involves sitting still with intentional and controlled breathing, perhaps repeating an internal mantra or listening to a guided audio track In either case.

Although it’s the most well-known means of mindfulness, traditional meditation isn’t the only way to practice mindfulness exercises in the New Year. Here are x other ways that make it easy to get into a mindfulness habit and make it a part of your current routine. 

  1. Wake up early

Just five more minutes never hurt anyone, right? While you might still get where you need to go on time, it can mean you have to jump into getting ready first thing which leads to a frazzled start to your day. Instead, try waking up even just 10 minutes earlier to give yourself extra time in the morning. The space of a slow morning will allow you to take in how you feel physically and emotionally and check in with yourself before you begin operating on autopilot.  

  1. Set a daily intention

Before leaving your home, take a moment to think about something you want to accomplish today or how you want to feel. Perhaps you want to feel calmer throughout the day or to be more sociable with your coworkers. Either way, setting this intention instills a set of purpose and motivation. Keep this intention in mind throughout the day and check with yourself to see if your behavior is aligned with this goal. 

  1. Recite positive affirmations

You are what you eat, but also what you say. Words have a lot of power and can change what we think about ourselves. Most of us are quick to criticize ourselves (“I can’t believe I messed that up”, “That was a huge mistake, I’m such an idiot”) and end up internalizing those negative thoughts. Positive affirmations flip the script and switch the mindset to be one of self-kindness and positivity.

  1. Write in your journal

Penning thoughts to paper is one of the most powerful tools for processing our thoughts and feelings. It inherently requires us to reflect on our actions and thoughts. Writing in a journal in the morning can be a great practice for thinking about the day we want to have, while journaling at night can be a wonderful way to process the day’s events. 

  1. Go for a walk

Walking has just as many benefits for the body as it does for the mind. You don’t need to walk for a long time to experience the benefits. As little as 15 minutes can be enough for a mental boost. Walking among nature is especially restorative, and known to boost mood, memory, and creativity while relieving stress and releasing good-feeling serotonin.

  1. Limit screen time

Do you check your phone or inbox dozens of times throughout the day? Most of us are guilty of this near-compulsive behavior. One way to be more mindful throughout the day is to set dedicated times when we check our devices, social media accounts, or other means of communication. This way, you are in control of your devices, rather than the other way around. 

  1. Work in intervals

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to let your day get away from you. One way to avoid letting your work or other responsibilities take over is to give yourself regular breaks throughout the day. Take time to stretch, relax, and otherwise check in with yourself.

  1. Check your posture and facial expression

Do you often find yourself slouching at your desk or frowning when you’re in traffic? Train yourself to recognize changes in your body posture and facial expression. This is important since how we carry ourselves can influence how we feel. Forcing a smile, even when you don’t feel like it, can actually make you feel happier. Standing tall with shoulders back doesn’t just make you appear confident, but can make you feel that way too. 

There’s no special diet or early morning routine needed in order to make 2024 your best year yet. All it takes is a few minutes of your day and a bit of concentration. If you feel like mindfulness isn’t enough, consider talking to a mental health counselor near you