Though it makes me cringe to say it, one of my biggest personal weaknesses is my tendency to overcommit. As much as I believe in the freedom that comes with saying no more often, it’s hard not to take on too much. If you’re a recovering people-pleaser like me, then you know the struggle. When an interesting or fun opportunity comes along, the temptation is often too great. But in an effort to find more happiness in simplicity, I brainstormed a list of five-minute tasks that will make you feel better instantly—without any of the post-commitment guilt.
Because for “yes” women like myself, January can be an especially tough time. The blank slate of a new year provides endless opportunities for personal projects (of course we can get fit, throw more dinner parties, volunteer every week, be more present with our kids, and take a photography class all this month!).
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
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If like me, you’ve made similar mistakes on past New Year’s resolutions and are looking for smaller ways to make positive life changes, this post is for you.
Keep scrolling for the easy tasks that’ll make you healthier–and happier—today. (All in five minutes or less! Because in 2023, I’m looking for quick ways to add a dose of health into my day-to-day.
We all know that a healthy breakfast is super important, but, let’s face it, mornings are usually when we’re most time-starved. Instead of grabbing a packaged granola bar, add a couple of no-cook “assembled” breakfasts to your repertoire, like these delicious overnight oats, an upgraded avocado toast, and your new go-to smoothies.
Especially for those of us who sit for long periods at work, squeezing in a few stretches throughout the day is key to feeling energized. Pick up one of the trendy under-desk treadmills you’ve seen all over social media. Or, double up your exercise with some quality time outdoors. Hot girl walks are still holding strong for a reason!
Of course, eating whole, nutritionally-packed foods is priority number one, but even the healthiest eaters among us could use a boost from time to time. I’m a believer in popping a whole-food multivitamin, a high-quality probiotic, and a magnesium supplement daily. They help me cover all the bases and are a great complement to a well-rounded diet.
I’ve started using a foam roller for five minutes every night before bed to relieve tension that’s built up in my body throughout the day. I’ve already noticed a huge difference in how much more relaxed I feel when I crawl under the covers. Here are six ways to get started with one now.
Y’all know we’re big fans of a breakfast smoothie around here. There’s no quicker way to get your greens on than by throwing a handful of raw or frozen spinach into the blender along with the other ingredients. And if you’re not a huge spinach fan, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how the green taste just kind of disappears behind the sweeter fruit.
Many delicious spices have surprising health benefits. Adding a sprinkle to your dishes is a quick way to infuse them with flavor and nutrition. I add half a teaspoon of cinnamon to my oatmeal and coffee, which has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, and adding turmeric to a stir-fry or chili packs it with additional antioxidants.
Only in the last couple of months since I started meditating have I fully appreciated the benefits of breathing. It may sound simple, but taking a five-minute break in the middle of the day to close your eyes and focus on your breath is a total game changer. It’s a quick practice that will improve your mood, reduce stress, and focus your energy where you need it to be.
Savoring a cup of herbal tea at the end of the day is an instant de-stressor, and can even help quell those sugar cravings that tend to strike an hour after dinner. I always sip a cup of Yogi Bedtime tea while I read in bed which usually helps me drift off faster. If you want to learn more about the amazing world of herbs, read this.
For me, water falls into the “out of sight, out of mind category,” so I do my best to keep a bottle filled with filtered water on my desk or in my car at all times. On days when I stay hydrated throughout the day, I feel more focused and awake. This is my current fave.
You’ve probably heard that the blue light of our electronics is really disruptive to sleep, since it disrupts melatonin production and tricks your brain into thinking that it’s daytime. Enter: Night Shift mode. If you’re not already acquainted with this nifty little iPhone and iPad setting, get ready to have your mind blown. If it’s activated, every night when Night Shift mode kicks on, your phone automatically adjusts its display to give off a warmer light that isn’t as disruptive to sleep as the typical blue light. Here’s how to enable it. (I have mine set to the From Sunset to Sunrise schedule.)
It only takes a few minutes to rinse and dry veggies right when you get home from the store, but it can be transformative during the week when you need produce in a hurry. I wrap lettuce in paper towels so it’s ready for salads, and store sturdy veggies like carrots and celery in glass containers with lids in the fridge where I can see them. When I’m craving a snack, I’m way more likely to reach for the veggies and hummus. Here are other time-saving grocery store habits I try to adopt.
Yes, you CAN pack a healthy and delicious lunch in less time than you can pick up something from the fast-food window. My go-to weekday salad is usually veggies that I prepped when I got home from the store, leftover cooked chicken or boiled egg or avocado, something crunchy like nuts or seeds, and a homemade dressing that I made for dinner over the weekend. If you’re looking for more salad inspo, try my take on this viral recipe.
Stretching is one of those things that often gets pushed to the bottom of our priority lists, but it makes a huge difference in how your body feels. If you have time to Netflix, you have time to stretch. I make it a habit to dedicate the first five minutes while I’m watching any show to getting down on the floor and running through a few stretches. Bonus: They help me sleep better, too.
Taking a few minutes to write down what you’re thankful for has been shown to lower stress levels, encourage better sleep, and boost happiness. In other words, major bang for the five minutes it takes. The key is to just start doing it regularly so that it becomes a habit. I keep a notebook and pen in my nightstand, and every evening I jot down a few things that I’m grateful for that day. Don’t worry about good handwriting or complete sentences; the simple act of writing will naturally encourage reflection.
I love learning what keeps successful women energized and inspired throughout the day. So naturally, I asked my favorite ladies to share their secrets (read ’em here!). My top takeaway? Make your bed every single morning as most of them do. The simple task gives you an instant sense of accomplishment and helps you feel like you can take on whatever the day throws at you. Plus, starting with that one good habit creates a domino effect. The feel-good vibes from tackling it will motivate you not to skip out on other positive tasks.
This post was originally published on January 21, 2020, and has since been updated.