How 10 Minutes Can Change Your Life

portrait of happy young housewife with vegetables in kitchen

Ready for an intensive, all-encompassing process to change your life?

Yeah, me neither. Kind of tough to fit in, between prepping the presentation for your boss, last-minute runs to the store, and making goodies for the bake sale you somehow signed up to chair. Besides, can I remind you that you’re already pretty awesome? Don’t go changing that much.

But, we all have improvements that we’d like to make –- and what if I said that you could still get the impact, in barely more time than it takes to shimmy into your Spanx? Research shows that even 10 minutes a day can have a surprisingly significant effect.

Let’s face it –none of us have time to waste — so here are a few of my favorite powerhouse activities. Want more? Check out (and Like) Sharecare for daily tips the entire month of January! Plus, tweet me @DrDarria or find me on Facebook with your favorite ways.

Move it! If you only have 10 minutes, moving is one of the best activities for you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Walk. Run. Dance. Stomp. In one study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders participants who were asked to exercise in 10-minute spurts two to four times a day, five days a week, stuck to the program and exercised more than those who were asked to exercise in single 20-40 minute chunks over the same time period. I’d love you to get a total of 20-30 minutes total, but if you’ll start with me at 10 minutes, you’ll notice a difference.

Meditate or practice mindfulness. Studies show that regular meditation or mindfulness exercises cannot only improve heart health, it cuts down on mind wandering (such as obsessing over that catty remark from a coworker or how you could have handled a challenge better), and lowers levels of depression and anxiety. One study published in Psychological Science found the effect of improved focus in as little as two weeks of mindfulness practice.

Play. Adults don’t get recess anymore. (We don’t get naptime either, which is something I’d like to address with management at a later point.) Whether with your children, your dog or your best friends, let out your inner child. Host game night. Take a friend to one of those indoor trampoline gyms. When you’re at brunch, put the orange peel across your teeth and smile at a stranger. Let out your inner 12 year old.

Prepare meals with the freshest, brightest fruits and veggies. You get home, you’re exhausted, and you reach for whatever leftovers are in the fridge, right? Take 10 extra minutes to sauté that fresh asparagus or chop up the papaya and squeeze on a little lime. Taking a few minutes to spruce up your meal not only makes it healthier with fewer calories and higher antioxidants, it will make your veggies a little more appealing at the same time.

Twice a day stop interacting and start connecting. You take your groceries from the clerk. You swipe your ID card for the security guard at work. Those are transactions. But what if you took two minutes to say hello, ask how they’re doing and learn about them? In Talk to Strangers, David Topus says that replacing an “efficient” transaction with a true connection will not only improve your mindset and day, but the other person’s as well.

A successful journey needn’t start with huge sweeping changes. It’s the small, daily decisions that accumulate and forge our lives.

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