Ten minutes. With six per hour, you have 96 of these precious segments in your 16 hours of awake time each day. But if you spend your days working, running errands, taking care of friends and family, and completing other tasks, chances are your time feels already spent—and yet you probably need 10 minutes of me-time more than ever.
Taking time for yourself not only positively affects you, but those around you, too. Think of the welcome announcements on an airplane—the flight team tells you to place your oxygen mask on yourself before you help others. Self-care is your oxygen mask. And spending a few moments to calm your mind and center yourself can benefit your mental and physical health, which means you’re fitter—mentally and physically—to help others around you.
The Benefits of 10 Minutes
Practicing mindfulness allows you to focus on the present and momentarily let go of any stresses or burdens you may carry. Studies from the University of Konstanz in Germany, Cornell University in New York, and countless psychology experts extoll the benefits a mere 10 minutes of me-time can do for your health.
Those who manage to squeeze mindfulness activities into their day have reported gains such as:
- Supported mental health
- Greater self-esteem
- Life satisfaction
- Compassion and empathy
- Increased creativity
- Greater self-awareness
- Supported immune system
- Supported sleep
- Healthy habits
- Improved relationships
So, now you’re probably thinking, what on earth can I do in 10 minutes? In the following 10 minutes or less, you’ll learn how to make every last one of those 600 seconds count.
10 Minutes to a Calmer Day
Stretch Your Legs
Whether you prefer a brisk jaunt or a slow stroll, a short walk helps to blow away the cobwebs, offer a change of scenery, and get your blood circulating for healthier heart and brain function. Plus, it makes you feel great—exercise releases feel-good endorphins and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Whether it’s sightseeing in your neighborhood or a lap around your office or apartment building—take 10 to squeeze a few healthy extra steps into your day.
Practice Skincare Self-Care
Touch. It’s how a mother soothes her child, how couples show affection, and even how you comfort someone you love. The health benefits of touch have been shown in numerous studies. And spending just 10 minutes for a soothing skincare regimen gives you plenty of tactile stimulation as you sweep away the day’s dirt and grime, press in serums, pat in eye creams, and slather on moisturizer. You’ll glow inside and out.
A little science fact: the olfactory sensors in your nose send signals directly to your brain’s emotion centers. Some scents—like lavender, citrus, and jasmine—produce powerful calming effects. Add an aromatic essential oil balm to your calming toolkit and engage a different sense to maximize calm.
Connect with Nature
Whether you live by a coast, mountain, or countryside, seize the moment to soak in the beauty of your natural surroundings. A study by Cornell University shows students who spend 10 minutes in a natural setting feel happier and less stressed. Even city-dwellers can make the most of the scenery around them—head to your nearest park or even up to a rooftop terrace if you’re lucky enough to have access to one.
Practice Active Meditation
Meditation is one of the most effective ways to practice mindfulness. It teaches you to quiet your thoughts, focus on your breath, and control negative emotions through breathing and visualization exercises. Thanks to A-list fans like Oprah, LeBron James, and Hugh Jackman, meditation has gained an impressive following in recent years. You can practice mindfulness at any time of day, but taking time to meditate before work helps to focus your mind on the tasks at hand.
Tech to Chill
While tech may often feel like the enemy in your Zen pursuit, some excellent mindfulness apps and social media sites are only a click away when you’re feeling uninspired. A few of our favorites include Headspace, Calm, and Meditation & Mindfulness on Instagram.
Lose Yourself in a Book
The mind is a beautiful and powerful thing, which sometimes makes it all too easy to get stuck in your own head. The easiest way to switch off and reset is to lose yourself in another world for a while. Immersing yourself in a fictional tale or factual narrative allows you to escape reality for a short time and embark on a wild adventure. And it’s a great way to glean a new perspective from a few moments lived in someone else’s shoes.
When you take a deep breath, you increase the oxygen supply to your brain to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which tells your body to calm down. It also moves your focus from whatever’s making you anxious and directs it to the breath. Try taking a deep, slow breath right now—feel better?
Although you deserve far longer than 10 minutes for some much-needed me-time, sometimes it’s all you can spare. On days when time is against you, take a moment to try one of these tried and true activities to destress, unwind, and refocus.
Do you have your own quick-fix calming technique? We’d love to hear your favorite ways to destress when time is short.