Editor's note: Dana Santas is known as 'Mobility Maker', a certified strength-and conditioning specialist, mind-body coach, and author of 'Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief'.
You are not alone if you feel that you do not have time to take care of yourself beyond the basics. Many people blame their busy schedules for preventing them from living healthier lifestyles.
What if you need only five minutes?
You can make a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing by doing simple, quick activities that take only five minutes.
If you are still not sure you have the time to do everything you want, you might consider taking those minutes away from less productive and time-consuming activities. How many times do you mindlessly scroll through social media posts, only to realize that five, ten, or even twenty minutes have already passed?
If you are one of 7/10 Americans who use social networks, it might be best to swap five minutes of scrolling for one of these five health-boosting, science-backed activities.
Concentrate on your breathing
Do you want to boost your mental and physical health and reduce stress almost instantly? Take a breather. Take a breathing break.
It doesn't take five minutes for you to start reaping the benefits of deep breathing. According to research, 90 seconds of deep breathing can trigger a physiological response that reduces blood pressure, inhibits the production of stress hormones, and lowers heart rate. By consistently improving your breathing, you can improve posture and reduce pain.
Your body should be moving.
Sedentary behavior, and in particular prolonged sitting, can be detrimental to both your physical and mental health. It increases your risk for depression as well as death. Even five minutes of movement can make a big difference. A study from 2020 found that even 11 minutes of daily exercise, in any amount, can increase your life expectancy.
You decide how you want to move your body. The type of exercise you do doesn't really matter as long as your body is in motion. You can move your body creatively by doing a 5-minute yoga flow or body-weight exercises, or dancing to your favorite upbeat music.
Connect with a friend
Spend five minutes each day to make someone feel heard and seen, and do the same for them. Video chatting can be a great way to stay in touch with someone you love or a friend if you are unable to meet in person. Although it's better to speak in person, socializing any way you can that makes you feel supported will help reduce loneliness and feelings isolation. These are linked with depression, heart attacks, strokes, and early death.
When your schedule makes it hard to see friends regularly, try to have a conversation with someone else while you are running errands. You can talk to cashiers in the supermarket by asking them how their day has been, showing genuine interest, and sharing information about your day. Smiles and genuine interaction can do wonders for you and those around you. You may even meet a new friend.
Healthy snacks to prepare
You've probably done it. When you were watching TV, you wanted to snack on something but you didn't have the time to wash your fresh fruit from the fridge. So you grabbed the bag of chips. I'm sure I have. It is important to be able to access healthy foods. Taking five minutes to prepare fresh snacks can have a big impact.
It's likely that you have heard both nutritionists as well as fitness influencers tout the benefits of weekly meals prep. This is where you prepare all your meals for the week in one day. It may sound convenient and easy to do, but it is time-consuming and logistically difficult. It is easier to start with a smaller meal preparation by spending only 5 minutes every two days to wash and chop up your favorite fruits and vegetables.
Take a quick stroll
Researchers have found that walking 10,000 steps per day can help reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. However, newer studies show that even a small amount of walking is beneficial. Even a five-minute stroll around the neighborhood or in your office can have health benefits.
A recent study found that walking for 5 minutes every 30 minutes immediately reduces blood pressure and sugar levels.
The five-minute activities are much more realistic than lofty health resolutions, like giving up chocolate or cheese forever. They can be made into healthy habits with consistent practice. These habits will boost your wellbeing throughout your life.