12 Ways To Stay Zen With 10 Minutes A Day
8 minute read
There’s a lot happening in the world right now. With changing technologies, an unstable economy, and constant news streaming into our smartphones. It’s no wonder that nationally reported stress levels are rising.
Worse, Americans have reported having little or no time to practice relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. Workweek hours only seem to be increasing, while vacation time keeps decreasing.
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So what can we do to clear our overworked minds? Try these 12 mindfulness exercises to relax, revitalize, and refocus.
1. Start a Meditation Practice
Research shows that just ten minutes of meditative silence per day can have a positive effect on your mental health. (Of course, if you decide to slowly add time to your daily meditation, you’ll reap even more benefits.)
Try finding a secluded spot, be it your parked car, a bedroom, or even a piece of green space in your local park. Turn off your phone and anything else that may disturb you, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. It’s okay if your mind begins running through the one million and one things on your to-do list, but try to practice reminding yourself to come back into focus.
10 Minute No-Nonsense Guided Meditation
- Start with one really big, slow, deep cleansing breath.
- Expanding your stomach and chest fully on the breath in, and exhaling fully, feeling tension leaving your body as you let the air out through your mouth. You can sigh audibly if you like.
- Come back to the natural rhythm of your breath, breathing in and out through your nose.
- Now bring your attention fully to your breath, noticing the temperature of the air as it touches your nostrils and following the breath into your nasal passages, your lungs, your belly.
- Now reverse that pattern to breath to belly and then chest, paying attention to the sensation of air as it leaves your nostrils.
- On your inhale you can repeat silently to yourself, “breathing in.” On your breath out you can say, “breathing out.”
- Whenever you notice that your attention has drifted away from your breath just gently come back to it and those statements. Don’t worry if your mind wanders, just continue the practice of bringing it back to its focus.
2. Play Calming Music
Watch how your body's internal rhythms entrain to the external rhythms of music, like when you go to the sea and you start breathing slower and your heart rate slows down and starts moving closer to the rhythm and pace of the ocean. It's the same with music, especially reggae, says Frank Lipman, MD.
3. Grab Those Probiotics
That helpful stomach bacteria isn’t just for digestion. According to recent studies, they may also positively impact your brain. If you don’t have time to scarf down a yogurt or find a Korean restaurant that serves mountains of kimchi, try supplementing with a daily probiotic, such as 1MD’s Complete Probiotics Platinum.
4. Give Yourself a Mini-Massage
Acupressure is all the rage right now, and you can sneak in some of its many advantages in just a couple minutes a day. When you’re feeling extra anxious, press your right thumb into the webbing between your left thumb and index finger. For added benefit, move your right thumb in tiny counter-clockwise circles over that area and breathe deeply.
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5. Scrub Your Scalp in the Shower
Improving circulation to the follicles is one of your best bets for keeping the hair on your head healthy. While shampooing, use your fingertips to apply light, steady pressure along the center of your scalp (right where your middle part would fall) for 3 to 5 minutes, then rinse.
6. Try This Yoga Pose
The standing forward fold, otherwise known as Uttanasana, helps keep your spine loose and in balance. Start in a standing position. Lift your arms up straight over your head and stretch them as high as you can. Next, slowly bend forward, keeping your torso straight, until your hands reach the floor. Let the crown of your head dip toward your hands and allow the weight of your upper torso to stretch your calves and the back of your spine. Breathe in deeply and stay here for at least twenty seconds.
7. "Deal" With a Difficult Person
Visualize the person with whom you're having difficulty as a perfect, enlightened being radiating a pure, tranquil light, says Sluyter. But she's stuck in an eggshell, and all the actions you find difficult or problematic are just this person trying to peck away at that shell. Now visualize yourself gently helping to peel away that shell so she can become her best, enlightened self. Next time you see that individual, you'll frame your relationship in this new context.
8. Press a Spot on Your Face to Relax
Relieve tension and get your blood pumping with DIY acupressure. Find the base of each cheekbone and press lightly for 30 seconds—it's long been tied to a brightening effect on the complexion. (Also try this feel-good facial acupressure technique.)
9. Dry Brush Your Whole Body
Do this for better circulation and glowing skin: Before your next shower, start at the tops of your feet, working your way up your body and brushing with long, straight strokes in the direction of your heart. Each stroke should take 2 seconds, skipping the too-delicate skin on your neck, décolletage, and face. Watch this short video for a quick demo.
10. Throw a Mini Dance Party
Research shows that romance reduces the production of stress-related hormones, says Elaine Wyllie, MD. Dancing around the house for a few minutes leaves you feeling youthful and excited.
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11. Note 3 Things You're Grateful for Every Night
"I 'practice gratitude' for a few minutes a day," says Gail Saltz, MD, bestselling author and associate professor of psychiatry at The New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornel School of Medicine. "I note three things for which I am grateful that day, they can be small, like a delicious cup of coffee, or big like my husband totally supported my book project. Over time this has changed my feeling about how full my life is and how much I appreciate it."
12. Volunteer Your Time
You get what you give: Research shows volunteering regularly can lower your risk for death by up to 24%. All that usefulness and altruism might cause your brain to produce more oxytocin and progesterone—good-vibe chemicals that curb stress, reduce harmful inflammation, and improve overall mental health. (Here's how to find the good deed that matches your personality.)
The Bottom Line
We may not always have time for 2-hour massages and weekend meditation getaways, but these little tricks will do wonders for your overall well-being. In fact, many people start seeing a difference in as little as a week. That’s pretty good for just ten minutes of mindfulness a day!
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