Quick mind and body boosts to get you through the day.
We’ve all had ‘one of those days’. You know the ones – from the moment you open your eyes, everything starts vying for attention at the same time: work, kids, bills, shopping, errands and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life.
Before you know it, every day becomes ‘one of those days’ and suddenly, well, that’s just life: a blur of responsibilities and to-do lists. It’s surprisingly easy to forget about checking in with yourself to see how you’re coping and feeling in the middle of it all, especially with so little time to spare. Taking a few minutes for yourself can feel like you’re taking time away from something more important; time that could be spent responding to those emails or crossing things off your lists. But it turns out that looking after yourself first actually helps you to be more productive. As marriage and family therapist Karyl McBride says, ‘If we are filling our own emotional tanks with self-respect and loving care, we have much more to give to our families, friends and the world in general.’ All it takes is 15 minutes to give yourself a boost and renew your energy and positivity for the day ahead.
Add 5 feel-good fixes to your to-do list
It’s important to focus on your body and mind and be aware of what they need to be able to take on your busy life. Rushing from one thing to the next, sitting at a desk for long hours and grabbing quick snacks here and there instead
of taking time out for meals is bound to catch up with you and affect you and your productivity negatively.
These 15-minute feelgood fixes will help you check in with yourself and ensure you have a little time set aside to make sure your energy and mood remain healthy. They’ll also help you organise your day to be more productive.
1 Find your Zen
If Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Oprah swear by it, you can’t go wrong by starting your day off with a meditation. The easiest way to begin and get into the habit is to download a good meditation app, like Calm, and let it guide you through meditations specifically designed for different purposes. Meditation can improve various skills, such as focus, stress management, self-awareness and impulse control.
2 Plan your meals
Give yourself 15 minutes every day to prepare your food for the next day. You’ll be amazed at the time this saves you and how much better you’ll feel by eating regular, healthy meals instead of grabbing quick ready-made snacks at odd times.
Preparing meals before you get hungry makes you more likely to make healthy choices and stay away from fast-food and sugary treats, which sap your energy. You’ll feel a change for the better in your mood too. Studies have shown that eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, wholegrain cereals, lean meat and oily fish is associated with reductions in mood swings, depression and anxiety. The opposite is true for diets based on foods high in refined sugar and fat, or those that include high intakes of caffeine or alcohol.
3 Quick workout
It might sound too good to be true, but when it comes to feeling happier and being more productive, just 15 minutes of exercise really can make a difference. Health and fitness author Gretchen Reynolds explores the benefits of short
spurts of exercise in her books and columns. To get the highest level of happiness and benefits for health, Gretchen says the key is not to try to become a professional athlete! Small amounts of exercise are all that’s needed to reach the level where happiness and productivity are at their highest.
Find a 15-minute exercise routine that suits your abilities, whether it’s a simple yoga routine, a short jog, using weights or simply a combination of sit-ups, push-ups and other floor exercises. You’ll soon begin to feel happier and more energised.
4 Stretch it out
Stretching is often an afterthought, something that precedes or follows ‘real’ exercise, but it is actually an important
part of fitness in its own right. Stretching increases your circulation, calms your mind and increases your flexibility. It can also help to alleviate pain commonly associated with stress, like tight shoulders, neck and back. Visit Stretchingsa.co.za to learn how to stretch different parts of your body correctly.
5 Don’t forget to breathe
Concentrating on your breathing for 15 minutes will clear your mind and calm you, so it’s especially helpful when
you’re preparing for a potentially stressful event, or if you’re feeling overwhelmed and your mind is racing. This will
help you take on tasks with a positive, fresh attitude rather than move from one stressful moment to another.
How to begin:
- Inhale deeply through your nostrils for three seconds.
- Hold the breath for two seconds.
- Exhale from your mouth for four seconds.
- Concentrate on the sensation of air entering and leaving your body.
- Repeat for 15 minutes.
Quick tips to make you feel (even) better
- Spend some time interacting with colleagues – but make sure it’s positive (so no gossip or shoptalk). Positively influencing others can be contagious, so watch the happiness spread to the entire workspace!
- Put together a playlist of music that boosts your mood and keeps you energised, while helping you
focus. Streaming services like Spotify, Deezer and iTunes are your go-to apps.
- Take a little extra time with your appearance and make sure you leave home looking the way
you want to.
- Keep in touch with your favourite people during breaks or throughout the day. This way, you’ll keep
distractions to a minimum but not lose touch entirely.
- A small act of kindness or unexpected compliment not only makes someone else feel better – it has a
positive effect on you too.
FEATURE: CAITLIN GENG PHOTO: FOTOLIA.COM