Even if you can’t remember the last time you didn’t eat lunch at your desk or you’ve crashed Outlook with the number of meetings you’ve tried to schedule, let’s admit it: Everyone can find 10 minutes. It may be that dead zone before your next conference call or the tiny window after you submitted one project and have to start another. But we can all find it.
But so what? What can you do in 10 minutes that will really make a difference? Choose from one of these quick pick-me-ups to recharge, refocus, and regain your productivity.
You’ve heard about the benefits of meditation ad nauseam. It can reduce stress, improve health, and even change your brain. But what if you just can’t get into it? That “monkey-mind” syndrome is something everyone struggles with at first, says therapist Cara Maksimow. For a quick fix or to help you get the practice you need to be good at it, try an app like Headspace, Calm, or Omvana to guide you.
Keep some essential oils and cotton balls in your desk and treat yourself to a mini aromatherapy session, says Julie Stubblefield, founder of FitMom Revolution. “When you are feeling a bit slow, add a few drops to the cotton ball and sniff,” she says. Peppermint oil will increase alertness without the caffeine crash, she says.
No, you may not ask a coworker for a foot rub. (Ugh.) But Stubblefield suggests keeping a tennis ball in your office. When you have a few moments, kick off your shoes and roll the ball around under each foot, particularly working the arches and feel the relaxation kick in as you practice instant acupressure.
Sure, you could take that quick lap around the block, but psychotherapist Jim Hjort, says that spending 10 minutes walking slowly and with focus can be even more effective. Hjort says, “Focus on your surroundings and how your body moves during each step. Think about each foot hitting the ground, pay attention to the sun or breeze on your face, analyze the colors of the plants on your side, and look at all of the buildings or houses you pass,” he says. “Having an entirely present moment awareness will push thoughts of the day’s stresses aside and help you really enjoy life as it is moment to moment.”
Get in some giggles for stress relief and to completely change your mood, Hjort says. Call your funniest friend. Check out your favorite comedian on YouTube. Laugh at your mistakes. “GIve yourself a break,” he adds.
Take out a blank notebook and pad of paper and start to list all the things that you truly are grateful for during those 10 minutes, Maksimow says. You can also write about your feelings or goals–anything, really. Just putting pen to paper can help you sort out your thoughts and tame negative emotions.
Communing with nature has a positive effect on cognitive function. Stubblefield says that just 60 seconds of sunshine on your face is enough to improve mood and feel better.
Come on–you know there are few things more inspiring than a fresh box of crayons. A recent Huffington Post report looked at the benefits of coloring in reducing stress. And coloring books for grownups have also topped some best-seller lists.
Christine Hohlbaum, author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, suggests a simple exercise for instant rest and relaxation: Place your hands on a hard surface. Breathe in three counts while lifting one thumb. As you exhale say, “One hour of sleep“ and lower your thumb. Repeat with all 10 fingers three times. Your body will think you’ve taken a power nap. It’s more about the mindfulness than the deception, but it’s a good way to relax in just a few minutes.
When you’re up against deadlines, muscles may become tense and tight, restricting the ability to relax, Stubblefield says. Simple stretching like touching your toes and reaching overhead can help you work out tense areas and make it easier to relax.