“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” ~ Andy Warhol
The road to better health requires changes. Many of us make it more difficult than it has to be. Do you have 10 minutes? You don’t? Okay, then do you have five?
There is something to be said for making small, conscious changes over time.
Small changes to our routines and diets add up to increased vitality, which makes a bit more room for the manifestation of even bigger changes. Change is something we build upon. It rarely happens all at once, despite our desire for it. If we take change one small action, one moment at a time, we simplify it, and that’s what makes it possible.
We realize as we go that change is not as overwhelming or as monumental as we imagine it to be. We often fail before we start because we want results quickly, but that is not how change usually works.
Here are seven things we can do in 10 minutes or less that will better our health, and lay a small, but sturdy foundation for bigger, lasting changes to our unhealthy habits.
Just Get Up
Right now, we can get up from our desk, the couch, or the chair and go for a five minute walk. Around our office building. Around our house. To the copier. We all have five minutes, we really do. If we consciously take five minutes away from our desks at least five times during a workday, we have begun to make a small, healthy change to our routine.
Or we can go outside. This might take 10 minutes, so work it into your lunch break if you can. We can go out to the parking lot, or our driveway, or up our street. We can mindfully move toward the hills or the stairs, instead of away from them. If we run or jog around for at least one out of the 10 minutes we are outside, we have done something small but good for our heart. We made our heart work a little tiny bit, instead of resting all day. We can even do a couple of stretches. The key here is making the choice to go outside and into the sunlight and fresh air. It’s about moving around, outside, for 10 whole minutes.
Add 10 Minutes
We can consciously add 10 minutes to the length of time in between smoking our next cigarette. When the craving hits, we can look at our watch, and deliberately wait to have our cigarette 10 minutes later than when we really want it.
*Note: for the next cigarette, we can add another 5-10 minutes to the normal length of time. We can continue in this manner until we can get up, smoke a cigarette, then get through a whole day without another one until the evening. Then, we can maybe skip the one in the morning. Then, possibly, we can skip the one at night. Then, we can proudly proclaim that we have quit smoking and we feel great, and it only required some small, conscious changes over time that weren’t so bad or uncomfortable.
At the beginning of an hour, we can drink a tall, full glass of water. We can keep the glass or water bottle handy, and repeat toward the end of the hour. There, we’ve just had two whole glasses of water in one hour. It used to take us all day to do that, remember?
*Note: add a glass first thing in the morning, and another one last thing at night. Hydration feels good, right?
There are a few things we can do by simply breathing. We can go outside and wander around near a woodsy area or stream and just breathe the air. The negative ions can work to change our whole mood. It’s science. Ions and oxygen make us feel alive, and they help us fight depression, allergies, asthma, and anxiety. Or, if we must stay inside, we can use our breath for a moment of counting to 10 that includes some sort of positive, calming mantra. When we are feeling frustrated, or angry, or overwhelmed, we can close our eyes for a moment and just breathe through it. Mindfully and consciously expelling negative energy helps us manage our adverse situations in a healthier way.
Take a moment, either in the evening or in the morning to simply sit quietly and let it go. All of it. If you are meditating in the morning, you can set an intention for the day. Clear your mind of cluttered thoughts to see more clearly what the gift of a whole day can bring. If you are meditating in the evening, try to let go of something that affected you adversely. Perhaps place your thoughts on a boat and visualize them drifting out to sea, or tie them to a balloon and watch them float away. In taking a mindful moment, we can let go of some of the stuff that brought in negative feelings during the course of our day. Mindful moments don’t require much time, but consciously engaging in them repeatedly can bring clarity and balance to our hectic, over-scheduled lives.
Clean it Out
We can fill up the Neti-pot and clean out our sinuses. Get all the muck out that clogs us up and keeps fresh air from entering our bodies. Blowing our noses out good will rid us of nasty toxins, dust and dirt that are simply festering inside us. Cleansing air passages can help to cleanse our souls…or at least make us feel as though we did!
If we have 5-10 minutes, and do any one of these healthy things, we are doing ourselves a favor. Small favors, perhaps, but favors nonetheless. Think about how it might feel to regularly and consciously incorporate these seven little things into a daily routine. Change is possible. And the possibility of making other small changes (half a pat of butter, going to bed 30 minutes earlier, extra veggies, more time outside) becomes much easier.
Healthy changes are not as complicated as they seem when we work to simplify them by going small instead of big.
Cognizant, consistent, minor actions throughout our day add up to the major building blocks of good health.
Author: Kimberly Valzania
Image: Curtis Mac Newton/Unsplash
Editor: Emily Bartran