No more excuses. Here are some ways to boost your health and happiness in five minutes or less.
1. Inhale an energizing scent
Research suggests that lemon and peppermint scents are energizing. To exploit this finding, have an occasional cup of lemon or peppermint tea…or chew peppermint gum. Keep a bottle of peppermint and/or lemon extract to sniff…add a couple of drops to a small scent dispenser…or experiment with potpourri containing other energizing scents such as pine, jasmine, lavender or orange.
2. Sip ice water
It keeps your cells hydrated and helps you bum calories. Reason: Whenever you drink something cold, your body raises your metabolism to keep your body temperature from falling. That process burns calories eight 16-ounce glasses of ice water will burn an extra 200 calories per day.
Strategy: Start the day with eight to 16 ounces of ice water. Sip a 16-ounce glass every hour or two, keeping one next to you at work and at home. All told, you should drink eight glasses a day. Finish up by 7 p.m. to avoid having to use the bathroom after you go to bed.
3. Practice “one-breath” meditation
You don’t have to spend years mastering meditation. This one-breath method is a powerful, straightforward relaxation technique that can be practiced anytime, anywhere. Whenever you feel tired or out of sorts practice this meditation.
What to do: Sit in a comfortable chair. Make your back straight, relax the shoulders and take a deep breath. Let the air “open” your chest. Imagine it filling every cell in your body. Hold the breath for a moment, then exhale, releasing every bit of tension.
Also helpful: One-touch relaxation. Place your fingertips just in front of your ears. Inhale and clench your teeth. Hold for five seconds. Exhale, and let your jaw muscles go loose.
Repeat this exercises three more times, using half the original tension, then one-fourth, then one-eighth. Then take a deep breath, press your fingertips against your jaw, let it go slack and say, Ah-h-h-h. Imagine you are breathing out tightness.
4. Minimize noise at home and at work
Loud or irritating sound creates severe emotional and physical tension. Fortunately, many aggravating noises can be silenced.
Strategy I: Place foam pads under blenders and other kitchen appliances…and under printers, typewriters and other office machines.
Strategy II: Before buying an air conditioner or another potentially noisy appliance, compare noise levels of different brands. Use noise-absorbing insulation around dishwashers.
5. Bask in bright light
Most people get a powerful surge of energy from sunlight or bright indoor light. Try moving your desk chair closer to a window….or, better yet, take a five minute outdoor walk every few hours.
Also helpful: Each day, get five minutes of nonpeak sun (before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.) without sunscreen or sunglasses to enjoy the full mood-lifting effects of sunlight.
Indoors, replace incandescent or fluorescent bulbs with full-spectrum “daylight” bulbs from a lighting or health-food store. Cost: $9 and up for bulbs, $16 and up for tubes.
6. Do abdominal exercise.
Use this technique while sitting at your desk or while stuck in traffic. Sit up straight. Place hands on hips with thumbs pointing toward your back. Exhale slowly and completely, pushing the last air out forcefully with your lower abdominals.
Repeat up to 10 times a day. You might try one or two stomach-flattening sessions just before meals, at stoplights on your commute or each time you sit down at your desk. These exercises are great muscle toners for the lower abdomen
7. Perform mental “cross-training.”
Cross-training is the process by which you “stretch” your mind in as many different directions as possible by engaging in a variety of mental and physical activities. Word puzzles and other games are an easy way to perform this cross-training. Pick a random sentence from the newspaper, and then rearrange the words to make a new sentence…play Scrabble or do crossword puzzles…challenge a friend to chess or checkers.
8. Cook with “nutriceuticals.”
These are vegetables, herbs and spices that have specific healing properties…
- Garlic and onions boost the immune system, helping prevent colds.
- Basil, cumin and turmeric help prevent cancer of the bladder and prostate.
- Black pepper, jalapenos, hot red peppers and mustard all boost your metabolism for several hours. That helps burn fat.
- Cinnamon helps metabolize sugar, keeping your blood sugar levels steady.
9. Check your reading posture
Poor posture leaning over a desk, for instance can cause tension headaches, vision problems and pain in the jaw and/or neck.
Self-defense: Bring reading material up to your field of vision or use a book stand to hold a book at the proper angle. If you spend a lot of time on the telephone, get a headset. Don’t cradle the phone between ear and shoulder.
10. Do trigger-point therapy
Wherever you feel stressed, feel for a constricted band of muscle tissue a activate point. Squeeze or Press it with light to modest pressure. Continue pressing for five to 10 seconds, then release.
11. Curb indoor pollution
Whenever possible, keep your windows open. All gas appliances should be checked annually and properly vented to the outside to limit their output of carbon monoxide. Use exhaust fans in the bathroom, kitchen and garage whenever you use these rooms. Make your home and office smoke-free.
12. Do absolutely nothing
“Lyming” is the Caribbean art of doing nothing without feeling guilty about it. Try lyming frequently to give your brain time to process all the information it receives over the course of a day.
Helpful: Take a five-minute “mental vacation” every few hours. Picture your favorite beach or other getaway place. The idea is to escape the rat race briefly but completely.