We are often so focused on external tasks, responsibilities, and goals that our internal well-being can become completely neglected. For just five minutes a day, I challenge you to choose one of the following methods to enhance your mental and spiritual growth. If you are truly stretching every minute of your day and simply do not have five to spare, you’re still in luck – some of these can be practiced throughout your day instead, and a few (1, 2 and 4) even give you back extra time! Read on to discover a shortcut – or ten, if you’re ambitious – to a happier, healthier you.
Put Your Commute to Use
Turn off that morning shock-jock radio and listen to something that will feed your mind instead. Buy a book on tape, listen to an interesting podcast, or even learn a language! If you opt to use public transportation rather than drive, you have even more options.
Just Say No
If you can’t make it to an event, just say so. A fifteen minute explanation of your schedule is unnecessary. This seems like a small habit, but it is guilt-inducing, emotionally draining, and usually boring to the person you are saying “no” to. I began this practice myself recently, and it’s oddly freeing and validating to simply say “I’m sorry, we can’t make it.”
Be Kind to Yourself
This is a good tip for those of us who tend to beat ourselves up. The next time you find yourself in a shame spiral over something you did, ask yourself two questions: How would I react if a friend had done this? What would I say to her? Chances are, you treat your friends much more kindly than you do yourself. It’s time to change that!
Cut Social Media Time in Half
Most of us know someone who “quit” Facebook entirely, only to return in a big way just a few weeks later. Much like when we are on a strict diet, we can become almost embarrassingly obsessed with social media when we abstain entirely. However, too many of us use it excessively, as mindless entertainment. Estimate the amount of time you spend on social media (including on your phone), and cut it in half. Use the extra time to knock out some of the other tasks on this list!
Ten Steps Towards a More Productive Day
Read one short inspirational quote daily – and try to live that way for the next 24 hours. This can be a meditation, a Bible verse, or simply the results of a google search for “inspirational quotes”. If you’re very lazy, you can use the ones linked here. The small daily change in your worldview will keep your perspective fresh and your mind working.
The benefits of keeping a journal are enormous. Writing for as little as five minutes per day can help you put events into perspective, process your feelings, and strengthen your communication skills. You’ll also have something to look back on when you’re feeling nostalgic, and perhaps even share with your grandchildren someday.
Say something kind to yourself every morning. This may be difficult at first, but the more you practice this the easier it will become. Soon, you will start to notice things that you love about yourself throughout the day! This can be a powerful way to fight the natural tendency some of us have to be self-critical.
Keep a Gratitude List
Every day, write down three good things that happened. These don’t have to be big – you can include anything from a tasty breakfast to the sunshine. This ritual will help you to focus of the positive aspects of your day, rather than dwelling on the negative ones. As with the practice of complimenting yourself, this will hopefully grow into a habit of noticing and appreciating goodness in your daily life.
Keep Track of Lessons Learned
It can be easy to focus on the difficulty of a challenge rather than the lessons that you might be learning. Usually, the more painful the ordeal, the more profound our experience of personal growth can be. If you don’t take the time to look for the learning opportunity, you might miss the lesson entirely. This practice will help you to put your pain in perspective, maximize your benefit from the hardship you are facing, and, hopefully, lessen your chances of repeating the same mistakes.
Make the Bed
Research by Psychology Today determined that people who took the time to make their bed each morning were more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, feel well rested, and consider themselves to be happy. This could be because they are starting their day with an act of self-care and an immediate feeling of accomplishment. They also have something to look forward to later. After all, who doesn’t like crawling into a freshly made bed at night?
These ideas may seem super simple, but their effect can be profound. Put them in action today! I promise you’ll be glad that you did.