Ten-Minute Strategies To Ease Into Wellness
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
And learning to live in wellness doesn’t happen overnight, either. Instead of leaping into a complete life overhaul, consider putting manageable building blocks in place so you’ll have a foundation to support healthy changes for years to come. In other words, start small but aim big. To get going, consider these ten-minute strategies to slowly re-orient your life in a better direction.
- Practice Mindful Awareness – According to UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, “Mindful awareness is the moment-by-moment process of actively and openly observing one’s physical, mental, and emotional experiences.” Practices like yoga, tai chi and meditation help to develop mind-body awareness, which according to researchers, help to reduce stress, improve attention, boost the immune system, and promote wellness.
If you’re new to mindfulness practices, begin with 10 minutes of simple meditation. Sit in a relaxed position with both feet on the floor and begin breathing with awareness. Follow the breath as it moves in and out of your lungs. If your mind begins to wander, silently repeat the words, “Breathing in,” and “Breathing out,” as you inhale and exhale. Simple enough, right? But getting the mind to be still is far from easy. Ten minutes can be challenging, yet if adhered to consistently, it’s enough to establish the habit of allowing calmness to permeate the mind and body. It might just be the mini vacation your body needs each day. If you like the extra boost of wellness it brings to your life, consider enrolling in a yoga class or joining a local meditation group to expand your practice.
- Create a Gratefulness Journal – One of the best ways to boost your own happiness is to focus on everyday blessings. Set aside 10 minutes daily to write in a journal about all of the wonderful, kind, and beautiful things you experienced in the past 24 hours. No matter how terrible your day may seem, find at least 5 things to be thankful for. Your list might include something as simple as noticing the array of colors on a budding flower or someone complimenting the outfit you were wearing.
With each notation on your list, notice how it feels to acknowledge and appreciate good things. By purposely looking for the positive in our lives, we tend to see more of it. Then, let it inspire you to be a blessing in someone else’s life. Simply noticing and reflecting on moments of gratitude, according to UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons – author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier – increases well-being and life satisfaction. It also makes us more aware of the impact of our own words and actions on others.
- Spend Time In Nature – Remember how our parents used to tell us to go outside and play because it would make us feel better? They were right and now science has the data to back it up. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture even has a word for it: shinrin-yoko or “forest bathing.”
Field studies, such as those conducted at the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, suggest that spending time around trees and in green space makes people feel more connected to their neighbors, boosts the immune system, increases energy levels, and reduces stress. Even viewing pictures of beautiful landscapes changes brainwaves on MRIs. Time spent in nature, according to research by R.S. Ulrich of Sweden, is associated with positive moods and feelings of wellbeing, meaningfulness and vitality. So the next time your eyes get bleary from looking at a computer screen, take a 10-minute break and head outdoors for a “forest bath, even if that means standing under a maple tree and staring at the sky!
- Start Stretching – The philosophy behind yoga is that being physically flexible makes one mentally and emotionally flexible, too. Thankfully, experiencing those benefits doesn’t require doing backbends every morning! Maintaining a simple 10-minute stretching routine will bring similar results as those seen by dedicated yogis. According to www.lifespanfitness.com, stretching reduces lower back pain, improves flexibility, increases range of motion, relieves stiffness, reduces the risk of falling, and increases blood flow and energy levels.
Because stretching involves deep breathing, body awareness, and concentration, the mind also benefits from the physical effort and it can be a way to shift one’s emotional energy. And, as you learn to stretch your muscles, carry the experience to other areas of your life and s-t-r-e-t-c-h into new opportunities for growth. “Expand your experiences regularly so every stretch won’t feel like the first,” says Gina Greenlee, Postcards and Pearls: Life lessons from Solo Moments on the Road.
- Read Something Inspiring – Maybe it’s a page or two from someone’s memoir or perhaps, it’s a collection of favorite quotes. Regardless, take a few minutes every day to read something that inspires you. We are, after all, what we consume, so why not make uplifting, encouraging words part of your diet?
According to www.positivelypresent.com, inspiration is more important than motivation. Inspiration, in fact, is the foundation for motivation, so it lasts longer and cultivates passion. If people are motivated, they work hard, but if they’re inspired, they work even harder for longer periods of time. So grab a book that makes your heart soar and indulge. Your spirit will be energized and grateful!