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8 Effortless Self-Care Activities That Take Only 5 Minutes To Do

The pandemic has made it seem impossible to take a step back and take care of yourself. However, making self-care a priority is not only necessary but also pretty much crucial for optimal health.

“It’s important to take time off work and other responsibilities to pause, reflect and refresh, even if it’s just for five minutes. By taking these small self-care breaks, you’ll notice improvements in your mood, concentration, efficiency and more,” said Jessica Gold, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Covid-19 upended our routines and decreased social contact for more than a year – and we’re still experiencing the stress and trauma of it. As we navigate our new normal, it’s important to adopt more healthful habits that will boost our physical and mental well-being.

We asked mental health professionals to share five-minute self-care practices that are easy and accessible. Here’s what they had to say:

Lighten your mental load

It may feel overwhelming when there are too many things piled up in your mind.

“Spend five minutes thinking about what you can take off your brain’s plate today, or even this week. Can you postpone thinking about a decision on school plans for a few days? Can you hold off on mentally planning this weekend until tomorrow?” said Neha Chaudhary, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

“The more you can lighten your mental load, the more freedom you will feel to be present in the here and now without extra thoughts weighing you down.”

Try a breathing exercise

Deep breathing is a simple habit that helps cultivate mindfulness, aka the practice of being present. Mindfulness can help quiet your busy mind, improve your mood and reduce any tension you may be experiencing.

There are many breathing exercises you can do in five minutes or less, such as box breathing (inhaling for four seconds, holding the breath, then exhaling for four seconds) or diaphragmatic breathing (which involves taking a deep breath into your stomach, fully engaging your abdominals).

“If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, take a few deep breaths to calm yourself. It’s something you can do anytime and anywhere, like during a meeting or phone call,” Gold said.

Play your favourite song

“Hit the play button to hear a song that uplifts your mood and positively energises you,” said Meaghan Rice, a licensed clinical psychologist at Talkspace.

If there’s more than one song that makes you feel better, create a “self-care” playlist with all your favourite music. Tune into that playlist for five minutes and dance with the melodies. The added movement will release endorphins, which increase happiness.


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