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10 Mindfulness Activities Everyone Can Still Do in Isolation

While in isolation, mindfulness can fall to the wayside. This is especially true for those who previously engaged in group activities, like yoga and guided meditation. 

Without mindfulness, ignoring inner thoughts and feelings quickly becomes a habit once again, reducing mental resiliency and wellbeing. With that comes a risk of returning to disordered eating patterns and other harmful behaviors.  

Thankfully, it is still possible to enjoy effective mindfulness activities in isolation. By engaging in these exercises daily, everyone can stay in tune with their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to maximize their wellness. Here’s a look at some popular exercises to help everyone get started.  

Guided Meditation

Although guided meditation groups are a blast, online recordings can provide a similar experience that opens up the mind and relaxes the body. Free guided meditation recordings are available all over the internet with each promoting a certain state of being. 

There are recordings for those who want to relax and feel at peace and others for when it comes time to challenge disordered thought patterns. The meditations can last for just a few minutes or go on for many hours, depending on what the listener needs from the experience.

Upon finding the preferred approach, it is possible to even record personalized guided meditations for later use. These recordings can help move through difficult challenges that come up during isolation without the need for outside assistance. Although if they do not work as intended, it is always possible to reach out to the eating disorder treatment team for help. 

Daily Journaling

Daily journaling gives people a chance to tap back into their innermost thoughts and record them for later review. Just writing down how they are feeling acts as a meditative practice that eases stress and decreases worries. 

All it takes is a pen and piece of paper, though word processing programs can work as well. And it does not need to take much time, either. In just 15 minutes, all the day’s concerns can flow out onto the page, revealing hidden feelings and cleansing the mind. 

As the journal pages stack up, it is possible to go back and review them for insights on key patterns that would otherwise get lost in the fray. With that, mindfulness comes full circle to promote wellness and prevent the return of disordered eating habits and other behaviors. 

Practice Yoga 

What was once a cherished group activity can now be enjoyed solo through yoga videos available online. Many coaches are live streaming their routines and leaving them up for later use by their followers. They even have routines dedicated to promoting mindfulness through a precise selection of poses and breathing exercises. 

During their routines, they might focus on specific poses, like:

  • Mountain 
  • Eye-of-the-needle 
  • Downward-facing dog
  • Seated forward bend

Afterward, many introduce breathing exercises that assist in becoming grounded and centered. Through the routines, everyone can focus on the mind-body connection to stay in good spirits while isolated. 

Enjoy Breathing Exercises

When stress rears its ugly head, the first thing to go is healthy breathing patterns. Instead, many people tend to hold their breath as they wait for the stressors to dissipate. This creates even more tension in the body, often without anyone realizing the cause. To restore mindfulness and release that tension, it is important to focus on breathing several times a day using the following exercises. 


Deep belly breathing is an excellent way to restore healthy breathing patterns in the face of stress. This exercise promotes breathing using the diaphragm rather than the chest to promote a sense of calm. 

To accomplish that goal, they should put one hand on their chest and another on their belly. Then, slowly take in a deep breath through the nose while feeling the stomach expand. The hand over their chest should stay relatively still throughout that process. 

Once their lungs are full, they can pause for a beat or two, then start slowly exhaling through their mouth. At the end of their breath, their stomach should be flat once again, indicating it is time to start the steps over. Everyone should complete this exercise for up to 10 minutes a day twice a day to start. Over time, this type of breathing will become a habit.


Pinwheel breathing harnesses the power of belly breaths to achieve a simple goal: Get the pinwheel to steadily spin around and around. Before starting, everyone needs to get their pinwheel and hold it about four inches in front of their mouth. 

After that, they can take in a deep breath using the belly breathing technique. Hold for two seconds, then slowly blow out toward one of the lower fins. The breath should come out forcefully enough to start the motion, then they can dial it back a bit to keep it spinning. 

As they modulate their breath, they can focus on how it feels to breathe in a measured way. The relaxing view of the pinwheel will also help decrease stress and promote calm. 


Dragon breathing is a blast because it invokes the imagination as much as it calms the mind and body. For this exercise, simply:

  • Sit on the floor in a comfortable position
  • Gently rest both hands on the stomach area
  • Channel a fierce dragon by breathing out with a snort
  • Feel the stomach move back toward the spine
  • Take a breath in and let it out with another dragon snort

Repeat this process up to six times, then spend a minute doing belly breaths. Return for another round of dragon breathing and repeat the cycle until stress levels decline. 


Square breathing is an effective calming technique that requires minimal setup and no tools. All anyone needs to do is sit tall in a straight-backed chair with their feet flat on the ground. 

Then, slowly breathe in through the nose for four long seconds and hole for four seconds more. At that point, they can let the breath out through their mouth for four beats and hold once again for four more seconds. 

This practice is also known as box breathing because many suggest using visualization to move through the steps. Each step completes one side of the box and moves them toward feeling at peace in no time flat. 

As people start to master the breathing exercises and are better able to notice how they are feeling, they can use them in the moment as stressors arise. This takes a lot of practice, however, especially when it comes to recognizing the need to breathe through the challenges. 

Use Positive Affirmations

With positive affirmations, it is possible to address negative thought patterns and replace them with helpful mantras. Challenging the disordered thoughts is the only way to keep them from overtaking the mind and causing difficulties, after all. 

Helpful positive affirmations include:

  • I am worthy of self-care
  • My heart deserves compassion
  • I love myself and only deserve the best
  • I am dedicated to making beneficial choices
  • I am worth the time and effort
  • My wellbeing is important

These affirmations are most effective when said in a strong tone while looking in the mirror. They might feel silly or false at first, but the statements start to become accepted as fact rather quickly. 

Positive affirmations are an important part of mindfulness since they bring to light any negative thought patterns lurking under the surface. That way, everyone can preemptively challenge the beliefs that might otherwise lead to disordered eating patterns and other dangerous behaviors. 

Play Singing Bowls

Music has an incredible ability to relieve stress and promote a strong mind-body connection. To elevate the effects, however, it is important to engage in the music-making process and it does not even require knowing how to play an instrument.

All anyone needs is Tibetan singing bowls or, barring that, a set of water glasses. By rubbing around the rim of the bowl or glasses, beautiful notes emerge to fill the senses with wonder. Stress quickly dissipates as the music fills the air and they use their mind to focus on creating a song. 

For even more benefits, they can combine their playing with breathing exercises. As time goes on, this might become a daily ritual to restore mindfulness and promote relaxation at day’s end. 

5-4-3-2-1 Countdown

As stress mounts, it can feel difficult to see clearly or even hear what’s going on in the room. The senses become overwhelmed with the challenges ahead, making it hard to focus. To effectively intervene, everyone can use the 5-4-3-2-1 countdown method. 

The process begins by naming aloud five things that they can see in the immediate vicinity. After that, they list four things they can hear, even if one of those things is their own breathing. Next, they name three things they can feel in that moment, including their hand on their leg or breeze hitting their face. 

With that done, they can work on calling out two things they can smell. Then, finish with the identification of one thing they can taste. By the end, most people find their stress has released enough to identify the problem and create a plan in handling it. If not, then they can repeat the steps until they feel better. 

Name Your Mood

Until mindfulness becomes habitual, many people are unable to accurately identify how they are feeling in the moment. This skill takes a whole lot of practice, which definitely needs to start well before feeling stressed.  

To get started, they just have to focus on noticing how they are feeling at various points in the day. As they look inward to see how they are feeling, they can briefly name their mood and then move on with the day.

They should aim to perform these quick checks at least three times a day to start. Each time they pause to check in, it will become much easier to tell how they are feeling. 

Truly See the Leaf

If stress sticks around despite efforts to release the frustrations, a leaf might be able to help. By grabbing a small leaf or even a blade of grass, people can turn their focus on a tangible object and reap the rewards. While looking over the leaf, they can take in all the finer nuances of its design from the rib running through the center to the various hues across its surface.

As this occurs, the strangest thing happens:thoughts and feelings being to flow more freely. They may start to realize what is bothering them and may even figure out how to fix it. At the very least, they can name their emotions and see if anything is triggering them to the point where they need to reach out for help from their eating disorder treatmentteam. 

Perform a Body Scan

During stressful moments, the body takes inventory of the troubles and holds the tension deep inside. By looking at how the muscles are reacting at any given moment, it is often easier to feel mindful and stop avoiding inner thoughts and feelings. 

To perform this scan, they will need to start at the toes and move toward the head. It begins with tensing up the toes for several seconds, then fully relaxing all the muscles while paying close attention to how it feels. Then, they will repeat with the lower legs and beyond, all the way to their eyebrows. 

By the end of the process, relaxation will already be achieved. Then, they can see if any hidden thoughts come to the surface, revealing any challenges they may be trying to avoid. 

With so many excellent mindfulness exercises to enjoy, everyone can focus on their wellness while abiding by stay-at-home orders. The isolation will only last for a limited time, but these exercises can prove helpful for a lifetime. 


Melissa Orshan Spann, PhD, LMHC, RTY 200, is Chief Clinical Officer at Monte Nido & Affiliates, overseeing the clinical operations and programming for over 50 programs across the U.S. Dr. Spann is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and clinical supervisor as well as an accomplished presenter and passionate clinician who has spent her career working in the eating disorder field in higher levels of care. She is a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals where she serves on the national certification committee, supervision faculty, and is on the board of her local chapter. She received her doctoral degree from Drexel University, master’s degree from the University of Miami, and bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.