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Alcohol and Mental Health

11 Mindfulness Exercises and Activities for Adults

July 10, 2023
10 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 10, 2023
10 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 10, 2023
10 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
July 10, 2023
10 min read
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Reframe Content Team
July 10, 2023
10 min read

Quitting alcohol or cutting back can feel like we're on a boat in the middle of a turbulent sea, with the tempting bottle of alcohol appearing to be a life vest, promising instant calm. But in reality, alcohol’s an anchor that pulls us deeper into dependence and distress. Instead of reaching for this deceptive “life vest,” imagine if we had a genuine tool to calm the storm within us. That life vest is mindfulness — a beacon of light guiding us towards genuine calm and tranquility.

Mindfulness: The Basics

Mindfulness, a practice rooted in ancient Buddhist philosophy, has now found its place in modern psychological practices, thanks to its proven benefits. By promoting self-awareness and acceptance, mindfulness helps us recognize our triggers for drinking and lets us respond to them consciously rather than impulsively. Even more impressive, it’s shown to effectively reduce cravings, stress, anxiety, and even symptoms of depression associated with alcohol misuse.

Let's explore 11 easy mindfulness exercises and activities.

1. Walking Meditation

Walking meditation provides an opportunity to combine physical activity with mental tranquility. The focus isn't on the destination, but on each step we take. We feel the sensation of our feet touching the ground, the rhythm of our breath, and the movement of our body. Such an attentive stance towards the simple act of walking can significantly improve our mindfulness, keeping our mind anchored in the present moment. To practice walking meditation, block out 20-30 minutes each day to savor the outdoors. Turn off your phone and simply allow yourself to be in the here and now.

2. Single-Tasking

Multi-tasking has become an emblem of productivity, but it often leads to scatter-brained, anxious states. In contrast, single-tasking requires focusing on one activity at a time, helping us stay present and drastically improving the quality of our work. Try focusing on one task and finishing it before moving on to the next. Over time, notice how this single-tasking improves your productivity and also allows you to be more present in other areas of your life.

3. Mindful Driving

Driving often turns into a mechanical, mind-wandering exercise. But it can be transformed into a mindfulness practice by focusing on the feeling of the steering wheel in our hands, the rhythm of the car's engine, and the passing scenery. This promotes calmness and decreases the risk of stress-induced road rage or accidents.

4. Mindful Eating

Most of us tend to wolf down meals at our desk or in between errands. Instead of mindlessly munching in front of a screen or on the go, we can practice mindful eating. This involves paying full attention to the food, noticing its color, texture, aroma, and taste. This not only enhances our eating experience; it also aids in digestion and prevents overeating. To take this exercise a step further, we can even take a moment to appreciate where the food came from — reflecting on where it was grown and its journey from the fields to our plate.

5. Coloring or Making Artwork

Art can be therapeutic, especially when done mindfully. While coloring or crafting artwork, we observe each stroke and color choice, immersing ourselves fully in the creative process. This acts as an excellent exercise in focus and presence. Buy an adult coloring book or a paint-by-number kit if you’re new to artsy pursuits and want some guidance. These simple activities can give our minds a much-needed reset and bring us back to the present moment.

6. DIY Crafts

DIY crafts require focus and creativity. Whether we’re knitting, creating pottery, or woodworking, crafts demand our complete engagement, leading to an enhanced state of flow and mindfulness. Sign up for a local class or watch YouTube videos to sharpen your skills, and make the most of the DIY crafting experience.

7. Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga is a unique mindfulness exercise that involves voluntary laughter and deep yogic breathing. This blend of fun and mindfulness promotes joy, reduces stress, and helps us stay rooted in the present. A simple Google search can lead you to laughter yoga videos so that you can truly savor this practice and experience all the benefits it has to offer.

8. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Also known as belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing encourages full oxygen exchange, which slows down the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure, inducing a relaxation response. To try this practice, place one hand on your abdomen and one over your heart. Breathe in slowly through your nose as you feel your ribcage expand, hold your breath for two seconds, and then exhale gently through your mouth. Repeat this cycle for five minutes or until you feel a wave of relaxation wash over you.

9. Loving-Kindness Meditation

This form of meditation involves silently repeating phrases of love and kindness towards oneself and others. It's a potent tool for fostering self-compassion, acceptance, and mindfulness of our emotional state. To practice it, check out the guide here. You can also try out the loving-kindness meditation on the Reframe app!

10. Sound Healing

Sound healing involves focusing on different soothing sounds, such as gongs, singing bowls, or nature sounds. Concentrating on these sounds helps us stay in the present, fostering a deep sense of relaxation and mindfulness. A simple playlist on YouTube or Spotify can be a great way to tap into the powers of sound healing.

11. 5-4-3-2-1 Exercise

This sensory awareness exercise helps ground us in the present moment. It involves identifying five things we can see, four we can touch, three we can hear, two we can smell, and one we can taste. It serves as an excellent way to interrupt anxiety or stress spirals, redirecting our attention to the here and now.

Mindfulness: A Final Word

It's worth noting that mindfulness is not about reaching a state of perpetual happiness or suppressing negative feelings. It's about fully experiencing every moment — pleasant or unpleasant — with openness and curiosity. It encourages us to approach life as it is, instead of as we think it should be. Whether we're trying to quit or cut back on alcohol, or simply wish to cultivate a deeper sense of peace and equanimity, these mindfulness exercises offer a practical, accessible way to calm our inner storm. As we continue this practice, we'll likely find ourselves navigating life's waves with increased grace and resilience, fostering a deeper sense of peace and contentment in the process.

Tap Into Tranquility With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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