If there’s one thing I love in life, it’s shortcuts. From using dry shampoo to brushing my teeth in the shower, if it can shave a few minutes off my routine, you can bet I’m taking advantage. Unfortunately, there are few shortcuts when it comes to living a happier and healthier life. It usually takes hard work. Fortunately, some of this hard work can be done in 10 minutes a day, and if that’s not a shortcut, then what is?
Start the Day with Meditation
Relaxation right after waking up might seem like a waste of time, but meditation isn’t merely relaxing. Just a few minutes of closing my eyes and clearing my head to prepare for the day really puts me at peace. Even five minutes of this helps reduce any anxiety or stress I feel about the coming day.
If anti-stress benefits weren’t enough, science has also shown that meditation can reduce memory loss related to aging. I’m not sure that I’ve experienced that just yet—and I probably wouldn’t remember if I had—but reducing this likelihood with just a few moments of relaxation upon waking sure seems worth it to me.
Do a Little High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that involves quick bursts of intense exercise followed by short recovery periods. Research has shown that even short HIIT sessions can burn as many or more calories than moderate or low-intensity workouts. I get my workout in with 40 seconds of intense exercise followed by 20 seconds of rest—repeated over and over.
I end up doing 10 different exercises, ranging from pushups to jumping lunges, in my HIIT session in the morning. If you hate math like I do, you can get rid of a little anxiety now, since I’ve already done the math for you. This equates to about eight minutes. That leaves a full two minutes to round out your ten healthy and happy 60-second sessions.
Take Breakfast Seriously
I’ve always heard people say they eat unhealthy in the morning because they simply have no other choice. If truth be told, I used this as an excuse too. When it comes down to it, though, a healthy and nutrient-rich breakfast doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to pull off.
How long does a low-calorie breakfast sandwich take to throw together? How about a few pieces of bread tossed in the toaster and then spread with avocado? If we really want to get technical, a pack of oatmeal takes around two minutes to finish up. Two minutes! The truth of the matter is that there is no excuse not to start the day with a healthy breakfast.
Know Quick Ways to Be Happy
Annoyances and problems come up in everyone’s day, so no matter how regularly you meditate, exercise or have a healthy breakfast, something will pop up to interfere with your happiness. Fortunately, everyone enjoys being happy, and this means there’s been a wealth of scientific research on the subject. Even if something tries to ruin your day out of nowhere, there are ways to stay happy.
My favorite method? Simply smiling. Believe it or not, research has shown that even forcing a smile can result in a brightened mood. Doing jumping jacks or random flailing motions has also been shown to increase endorphins—the happy brain chemical. Even chewing gum, inhaling the scent of orange or seeing the color green can cause our minds to be happy.
Rest assured that I keep these quick little tips in mind, and they don’t even come close to taking up my full 10 minutes!
Wind Down Before Bed
You need to strive for a good night’s sleep every day, but you probably knew that before reading this. What many people don’t realize is that they need to wind down before bedtime, or they’ll simply toss and turn for an hour or more. To get this started, sit your smartphone across the room and don’t touch it when it’s time to lay down.
In addition to dodging the phone, it’s important to do some activities that relax your mind. For me, this includes reading, watching mindless television, a quick round of meditation or even making a list of things to do tomorrow so I’m not constantly worried about forgetting something. If I’m able to clear my mind before bed, it typically leads to at least a nice 7-hour snore-fest.
Making any change in life can be difficult, but when you break large changes into more manageable chunks, things become much easier. That’s what this entire 10-minute movement—and yes, it’s become a movement—is all about. If you can spare ten minutes for five, three or even one of these suggestions every day, there’s no doubt that you’ll have a happier and healthier lifestyle ahead.