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These 10-minute health boosters are all you need to make a difference to mood and energy levels, says Sarah Maber. Here’s how to do it...
1. Keep a journal
According to chartered psychologist Dr Sandi Mann, author of the journaling guide Ten Minutes to Happiness (Robinson, £12.99), a practice of focused journaling for 10 minutes a day really can boost happiness. She recommends keeping a daily journal, to be completed in six sections – pleasure, positive strokes, lucky me, achievements, gratitude and random acts of kindness; research shows that taking a few minutes to shed some positive light on your day slowly shifts your mindset.
2. Go for a walk
Studies show that walking can help with mental health – reducing anxiety, depression and a negative mood. It can also boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal. ‘Taking a walk and a screen break for 10 minutes gives our brains a chance to disconnect,’ says environmental psychologist Lee Chambers.
3. Lift weights
Lift weights for 10 minutes to maintain and build muscle, says health coach Susan Saunders. ‘Keep a few weights somewhere handy: by the bed, in the kitchen or even in your bathroom. Muscle has been linked to improved cell function, reduced inflammation (a hallmark of ageing), better cognition and slower bone loss.’
A 10-minute, full-body stretching routine will improve the range of motion around your joints, and contribute to flexibility and mobility, says GP and exercise expert Dr Folusha Oluwajana. ‘It will also help reduce musculoskeletal pain and the risk of pain and injury, particularly if you spend a lot of the day working at a desk, or driving.’
5. Listen to music
Feeling blue? Time to find your favourite playlist on Spotify. Just nine minutes of listening to feel-good music is enough to make you feel uplifted, according to recent research from the British Academy of Sound Therapy. Researchers found that music with a driving rhythm, fast tempo and positive lyrical content worked best.
6. Close your eyes
Treat yourself to 10 minutes of healthy sensory deprivation by simply closing your eyes, says psychotherapist Anna Mathur. ‘It doesn’t matter if you listen to a meditation, to music, or just sit outside and listen to the birds. By closing your eyes, even if your thoughts are running at 100 miles an hour, your brain will gain some respite and your nervous system some rest.’
7. Get into nature
'Sit down. Don’t move. Keep quiet. Wait 10 minutes. You’ll be very surprised if something pretty interesting didn’t happen,’ Sir David Attenborough told the Call of the Wild podcast recently. Countless studies back this up, including research by New York’s Cornell University that found 10 minutes in a natural setting left people feeling happier and less stressed.
8. Learn to meditate
Meditation has been shown to be one of the most powerful ways to release stress and fatigue; according to a recent Canadian study, just 10 minutes of daily mindful meditation helps to prevent anxious thoughts for the rest of the day.
9. Try some HIIT
Ten minutes of high-intensity exercise (like running; climbing up and down the stairs vigorously; or a HIIT workout, featuring bursts of intense cardio) is associated with improved mood, reduced stress and increased fitness.
10. Read a book
Research suggests that book readers live longer, healthier lives; in fact, reading for just six minutes a day can reduce stress – one of life’s great agers – by up to 68%. ‘A study at Yale University found that book readers lived for almost two years longer than non-readers,’ says Susan Saunders. ‘It appears that the distraction of being taken into a fictional world eases tension in the muscles and the heart.’ .