Healthy Food Story  >  5 Unexpected Ways to Get Centered Without Meditating {Giveaway}

5 Unexpected Ways to Get Centered Without Meditating {Giveaway}

5 Unexpected Ways to Get Centered Without Meditating

Let’s be honest: We’re all curious about successful people. What are their secrets? How do they do it?

Here’s one clue, and it’s something that Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah, Arianna Huffington, and Russell Simmons have in common: they all swear by meditation.

But it’s not just A-listers who rely on meditation for sanity and stability. It’s common among many who advocate a healthy lifestyle, with claims that even a few minutes of daily meditation can reduce stress & anxiety and promote happiness.

So…should you be meditating?

The short answer is, simply: yes. But stay with me for a minute, because there’s good news for those of us who can’t fathom sitting still. (And I even have a giveaway to help you find your focus – but more on that in a minute…)

A perfectly fueled, well-rested body doesn’t do us any good if we’re walking around in an overwhelmed, stressed-out state. Quieting our minds is essential to our overall health and to developing a connection to our bodies.

Admittedly, I’m someone who hasn’t always been good at taking the time to center myself. Not at all! I’m constantly running from one thing to the next, developing and shooting recipes in the morning, dashing off to meet with clients or teach in the afternoon, meeting publishing deadlines, trying to squeeze in a walk with my dogs…and then getting a healthy dinner on the table for my family.

But the problem is more than just an overloaded schedule: it’s that, with all that non-stop action, my brain never gets to slow down. I am full of ideas and to-do lists, not to mention all the minutiae that I need to “write down or I’ll forget”…! Often, there are so many details swirling through my buzzing head that I can’t feel calm or centered. I become so exhausted mentally that I can hardly even make simple decisions.

When my monkey mind won’t quit, I force myself to take a time-out for my version of “meditation,” or what I prefer to call mindfulness. It’s the gentle effort to be present, deliberately making myself aware of what’s going on around me, at that moment, in a calm and non-judgmental way.

Here’s more good news: mindfulness doesn’t mean you have to sit cross-legged, chanting a mantra for an hour. If the idea of traditional mediation overwhelms you (and that’s okay – me, too!), try one of these mood-altering, stress reducing alternatives instead:

Adult Coloring Books

Most of us loved coloring as kids, then abandoned coloring completely once we reached the double-digits. It’s time to pull out those colored pencils! Studies have shown that coloring offers many of the same benefits as meditation. It allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment. It can alleviate anxiety, and promotes calm and tranquility. Plus, it’s fun! If you’re looking to start a coloring practice, there are thousands of options: I'm bringing out my inner artist with Color Me Calm, a workbook created with anxious adults in mind.

5 Unexpected Ways to Get Centered Without Meditating


Few things allow me to de-stress and tune out like spending time in the kitchen. The key is to do something that doesn’t require you to pay much too much attention to the details such as a complex recipe.

Pick a task that allows you to go on culinary cruise control, like chopping loads of fruits and vegetables for smoothies, overnight oatsroasted sweet potatoes, and kale salads. (I do this every Sunday!) Or do something methodical, like rolling your own lemony coconut bliss balls or squeezing a nut milk bag while making your own almond milk. Then once you’ve chopped your way to a more relaxed state, don't forget to sit down and savor whatever you’ve taken the time to create.


Lacing up my shoes and heading out for a run does wonders for my mind. Between the rhythm of my breath, the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, and the breeze in my face, I can tune out the world and give my brain a rest.

Running may not have the same effect on you, but I’m sure there’s some kind of movement that allows you to quiet your thoughts. Yoga, walking the dog, swimming, biking, or even having a one-person dance party can all serve as great options. Anything goes, as long as it works for you!


I love gardening as a way to reach a more mindful state. There is something elemental about digging in the dirt and using my hands that calms my rapid-fire thoughts. Whether it’s planting flowers, tending to your veggies, weeding, or even mowing your lawn, getting out into your yard is the perfect way to zen out… all while being productive! (Hello strawberry smoothie made with homegrown berries!)

Knitting or Crocheting

There’s a reason grandma enjoyed knitting, and it wasn’t just about making cool afghans. If you’ve ever picked up a needle and yarn, you know this craft’s repetitive nature gives way to relaxation and tranquility. Once you’ve mastered the stitches, it’s pretty easy to reach that addictive, blissed out state (and bonus: you’re actually creating something in the process!).

I’m not the only one who sees knitting as a great alternative to meditation; some knitting companies have even launched mindfulness campaigns aimed at inspiring people to share how knitting makes them feel. I’m actually working on knitting my first piece now, and am loving zoning out with my new needles. (Giveaway alert: see below for a chance to win a beginners kit of your own!)

The next time that you notice you need to take an adult time-out to quiet your mind and put yourself into a more relaxed state, try one (or all!) of these non-traditional forms of “meditation.” You’ll feel less anxious without ever having to sit cross-legged on a pillow chanting “om.”

Because stress reduction is an essential part of the nourishment equation, I’ve teamed up with Wool and The Gang to offer one lucky winner a chance to give knitting a whirl as a fun and new way to reduce stress. All you have to do is share what activity (or activities) you're planning on trying as a form of non-traditional meditation. Or if you have any suggestions that have worked for you, we'd love to know about those, too! Comment below and you'll automatically be entered to win.

*The giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered. Congratulations to Sonia.


  • Giulia says:

    My go-to activities that help me de-stress and calm my mind are daily exercise and walking; and creating mandalas using stencils and colorfull pens! I also try to avoid phone + TV time before bed, this helps calm the mind and shut down our axiety-provoking thoughts, which facilitates better sleep quality 🙂

  • Kristyn says:

    I can’t wait to get a coloring book and try it as a form of meditation! I’ve also found that running is so therapeutic.

  • Chelsea says:

    I absolutely loved this article! Somedays finding time for “mindfulness” is challenging and these suggestions are great for different ways to fit it into the day! Thanks Elise!

  • Beverly Rosenstein says:

    A gentle effort to be present is the best definition Elise gives us for meditation. It is very difficult tone in the moment of your truth. Anxiety, stress, disappointment, rejection, toxic surroundings all melt into nothingness when you reach the point of meditation. Elise reminds us of what is really important in life. Bravo & kudos to my guru, Elise

  • sanna says:

    2 things:
    1) working out – lifting weights – it takes all my focus to make sure I’m using my best form and make the most of my workout. While I’m grunting away, my mind can’t take off to la la land and feel so at ease afterwards.
    2) acting – when I’m acting, i’m there and the world disappears.
    Thanks for your blog

  • Sarah Schain says:

    One of my favorite ways to calm my mind and create space between my actions and my reactions is going for a slow run.
    I focus on my breathing and running rythm at first and eventually I space out.
    I always feel a sense of calm when I am done☺️

  • Sonia says:

    For me, sitting and playing the piano works as a way to relax and de-stress. It was absolute therapy for me after an armed robbery!
    Also, I love to make recipes. I used to love making sugary desserts but since I am working on getting myself much healthier to build up my immune system, now instead I pour that energy into making my own chemical-free beauty products: deodorant, hair spray, cologne, toothpaste, lotion, and several others!
    Since I am left-handed, no one has been able yet to teach me to knit or crochet. But I have a new friend who is willing to try to teach me to crochet a simple headband with crocheted rose. Now that I have a granddaughter, that appeals to me to try again!

  • craftyone says:

    i crochet and knit as a de-stresser.

  • Allison says:

    I like to make quilts as a way to get calm. From your section on knitting, it sounds like quilting does for me what knitting does for you. I also love to do many of the other non-traditional things you’ve listed, as well a “regular” meditation practice. It took me a while to get where I could actually SIT and focus, so still I love artistic ways to focus on ‘the now’. Creating things seems to be the best way for me, even if it’s only coloring in a princess coloring book with my daughter.

  • judith says:

    i go for long runs

  • Heather S says:

    I have two adult coloring books that I’m delving into as part of my non-traditional meditation routine! LOVE that ZIGAZIG SHOPPER pattern!

  • Ally says:

    Walking the dog while listening to music does it for me. If I can get to isolated woods, I do better without the music, but with the hustle ‘n’ bustle of a city, the music helps!

  • sher says:

    walking in the forest

  • Macrae says:

    what great ideas! I would love to start knitting!

  • Andria says:

    I thought I was the only one that found traditional forms of meditation almost impossible …I amost feel more anxious! These are great suggestions. I was givien an adult colouring book as a gift and love it!!! I have recently started to exercise more and love putting on my headphones, and having a sweat sesh on the elliptical. Haven’t knitted since girl guides….maybe this is something to try! A form of meditation with a final product I could wear or give as a gift!

  • Andria says:

    I am so glad that I’m not the only one that finds traditional forms of meditation almost impossible….actually it makes me more anxious!! I was recently given an adult colouring book and love the calm and focus it provides. More and more, I’m loving the feeling of putting on my headphones , jumping on the elliotical and having a good sweat session. I haven’t knitted since girl gides , maybe time to try ! Something to relax me with the benefit of a final product I could wear or gift!!!

  • I love this post because as the reader above suggests, thinking outside of the box of traditional mediation! My yoga practice allows me to get into a zone, where I just breath and move, and I have found that this is the time I can quiet the monkey mind and get in touch with how my body and mind are feeling. My other mindful routine to decompress…a nightly 15 minute walk after dinner with my dogs. No phone, no music. It’s like a book end on my day, and allows me to reflect on my day without being distracted.

  • Nicole says:

    All of the above plus music. Making my own music or going to see it live works best, but even listening to recorded music seems to help.

  • Tina says:

    I love my (most) daily prayer walk through the forest..its great to talk to God about everything on my mind.
    I also enjoy spinning wool..especially when there’s a sunny spot in the garden. I find this automatically calming, because its almost impossible to spin without calm 🙂

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