Meditation-Like Activities (for People Who Suck at Meditating)

Do you suck at meditating? You’re not alone. But, you may be pleased to find out that there are TONS of alternatives to meditation that totally count, according to experts. Read on for our list of unconventional ways to meditate in the new year.

If 2019 taught us anything, it’s that everyone was meditating.

Everyone but us, that is. Because frankly, we suck at meditating.

But that didn’t stop us from wanting to hop on the bandwagon and get all those juicy benefits of meditation everyone is always talking about. Things like reduced stress, less anxiety, and heightened self awareness. I mean, who WOULDN’T want that?

So in 2020, we are working on learning how to meditate for real- and in the meantime, we’ve been exploring alternatives to meditation. These meditation-like activities will help you calm your mind, relax your body, and bring a little mindfulness to your day- yes, even if you suck at meditating like we do.

Read on for a list of the best unconventional ways to meditate- maybe you’ll find a new zen-like hobby to suit yourself, too.

Woman meditating

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Adult Coloring and Art Therapy

Art therapy is set to be one of the hottest self care trends of 2020, but did you know it started years ago when adult coloring made a comeback? 

Adult coloring has been shown to have many of the same benefits as meditation, such as stress relief and increased brain activity. It’s the perfect activity to take your mind off of your worries and problems, and just focus on one thing at a time. It’ll give your mind a break from decision making and other stress-inducing activities, and allow you to unwind (without having to sit still with your eyes closed in the process).colored pencils used for meditative coloring

As you color, you can work to clear your mind of other thoughts, as you would in meditation, or to concentrate on a favorite mantra or affirmation. (We like this sweary motivational book, this one with uplifting affirmations, and this book of simple patterns and mandalas)

Or, just let yourself slip away into little-kid like pursuits and just focus on the sheer simple pleasure of coloring.

The bonus? If you’re a busy mom like us, you can totally get your kids in on the coloring action. Grab a book for them and a book for yourselves, two sets of colored pencils, and practice your mindfulness side by side.

Related Post: Self Care Activities for Every Budget

Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles for Adults

Another throwback to the easy days of childhood, puzzles are also a fantastic alternative to meditation. As you sort, piece, and puzzle your way to create a cohesive image, you’ll find that you may be able to let go of some tress and focus on the task at hand instead.

And as a bonus, research suggests that jigsaw puzzles have many of the same benefits as meditation, such as decreased risk of mental illness and activation of both the left and right sides of the brain.

puzzle pieces

And with the right tools (like a fun new puzzle and this roll-away puzzle mat that saves your work), you can pick up and put down the activity as needed. And with dopamine released with each piece you place, you’ll feel a little better after just a few minutes of work.

Kids in tow? They can get in on the puzzle action, too. Grab a family friendly puzzle, or a kid-sized version and help them practice a little meditation-like activity alongside you.


Whether you’re into running, yoga, or a workout class, exercise can be just as good for your mind as it is for your body. Focus on breathing deeply, clearing your mind, and focusing on the movement of your muscles as you exercise in order to help clear your brain and find some mental rest. 

While some people might find meditating while exercising just as difficult as regular meditation, others may find that the physical release helps to calm the brain (and to give you a boost of happy-making serotonin in the process).

woman doing meditative yoga on a yoga mat in a white studio

If you hate the gym as much as we do, you can take your exercise outside. Try walking meditation, where you take a quiet walk alone and focus solely on the walking. Try to concentrate on each step and how your body feels as it moves. It’s a great mindfulness activity that won’t require you to sit still in doors.

And if you’ve got kids, you can even take them along. Put them in a baby carrier, stroller, or have them bike ahead of you as you walk purposefully to clear your mind.

Related Post: How to Workout (When You’re Tired AF)


Remember tracing paper from back when we were kids? You’d lay a thin sheet of paper over the top of a coloring book or other image, and trace over the lines to make an image. And, more often than not, try to pass off the art work as your own. 

woman sketching on white paper with pencil as a form of art therapy

It’s an unconventional way to meditate, but picking up an old-school-style tracing books can do wonders for your mental health. Lose yourself in the lines and patterns, and focus on the task of making something beautiful for yourself. It’s another art therapy activity that serves as a meditation-like activity, and is easy to do alongside your kids or slip into your day.

Music as Meditation

When I just can’t get my brain to shut up, I try to fill it with one specific thing instead of letting my thoughts just rattle around in my head like a ping pong ball. I try to think of a song that suits my mood or my need, ask Alexa to play it, and really concentrate on singing the lyrics aloud while breathing deeply.

cell phone with headphones for music meditation

When I’m anxious, it’s “Just a Thought” by Estelle. When I’m weary, it’s “Be Held” by Casting Crowns. When I need to rise up, it’s “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera. Whatever mood I need to put myself in, I sing the song loud and proud, and before I know it, the songs’ vibe  starts to affect how I feel.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, experts do agree that music as meditation totally counts as a valid meditation alternative. 

Related Post: Quiet Your Anxious Mind (So You Can Fall Asleep Fast!)

Repeating a Mantra

Some people (like me) find it INCREDIBLY difficult to clear their minds. So when I can’t empty my mind, I fill it up instead, but in a very specific way.

When I’m really wrapped up in my anxiety, I think of a mantra to bolster me up.

Young woman at home sitting on modern chair in front of window relaxing in her lliving room reading book and drinking coffee or tea

A few of my favorites in this messy season of motherhood-

  • “I have plenty of time to do everything I need to do.”
  • “I am more than what I do for others.”
  • “I am more than enough.”
  • “I will make it through this day.”
  • And, my personal nerd-favorite- “I am one with the force, and the force is with me.”

Feel free to borrow one of mine or come up with your own, but try to really focus on the mantra, repeating it in your mind until you start to feel calmer and your mind starts to clear. 

Related Post: Making the Miracle Morning Work for Your Mama Routine

Learn to Meditate with the Insight App

If you’re of the school that nothing can replace actual meditation, consider downloading a free app that will take you through the process of guided meditation. Pop in some headphones, and work a guided meditation into your mindfulness morning routine. 

woman listening to meditation app using headphones

The guided meditations vary according to length and purpose, so you can easily find one that meets your mood or need. And since many of them are as short as three minutes long, you can find a way to work them into your day during kids’ naps, your morning commute, or even those quiet moments before bed.

My favorite part about the Insight App is that it can also train you to meditate. With enough listening, you might find that you’re eventually able to quiet your mind on your own, even without the app.


So take heart, friends- even if you totally suck at meditating, there are tons of zen-like alternatives to meditation that will help you clear your mind, calm your anxiety, and bring a little more peace to your day. That DON’T require you to sit cross legged on the floor (because let’s be honest, we probably couldn’t do that even if we wanted to). 

What meditation-like activity would you add to the list?

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