By Dr Sally Norton, NHS weight loss consultant and surgeon, founder of www.vavistalife.com.
There are never enough hours in the day or days in the week to get everything done. The bare essentials may make it through but looking after us often ends up at the bottom of the list. It’s crazy – because looking after ourselves saves time in the long term, as we are able to function more efficiently and less likely to succumb to illness when we are healthy. But when life is out of control, try to find just 5 minutes for yourself. Here’s how…
1. Get moving
Whilst the NHS recommends around 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week plus time on strength exercises, it seems most of us just don’t make the time for it. The good news is that more and more studies are showing that shorter bursts of high intensity or sprint exercises can have great health benefits too….so having too little time is no excuse. Any exercise is better than none. Set your watch for this simple 5 minute workout….. Sprint as fast as you possibly can (on the spot if necessary) for 20 seconds, jog for 20, walk for 20. Repeat 5 times.
We sometimes forget that our brain needs downtime too. Stop for 5 minutes and focus on your breathing for a quick way to unwind and de-stress. Set a timer and sit in a quiet place – even your parked car before you hit the office or supermarket! Now focus on taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
3. Phone a friend
It’s well known that social networks and healthy relationships help stave off the mental health issues that affect 1 in 4 of us at some time in our lives. By taking 5 minutes out of your busy day to chat to a friend or work colleague you are strengthening those bonds and cementing those lines of communication that may prove invaluable in keeping your mind as healthy as your body.
4. Plan ahead
‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ as the saying goes. When we are surrounded by unhealthy choices at every turn it’s no surprise our willpower lets us down when we are stressed, tired and hungry. Try to spend just 5 minutes each day planning your healthier meals and grabbing some nutritious snacks for when the hunger pangs hit you unawares.
5. Think positive
Sometimes we feel as though the world is waging war on us, that deadlines are dragging us down and that life is leaving us listless. But it’s not just a cliché – studies show that looking on the bright side of life can really make things better and even lead to increased success at home and work. What’s more, it’s possible to develop a sunnier outlook even if you are normally a glass half-empty type. Rather than feeling down in the dumps, spend 5 minutes listing all that you can feel grateful for, however small. You will find your mood lifts – and if you make it a regular habit, who knows what benefits will follow.
However busy you are, there will be 5 minutes somewhere in the day for a quick boost to wellbeing, health, weight or fitness. You just have to remember to look for it! Perhaps wake up 5 minutes earlier or set an alarm at a certain time of the day. Add it on to an existing regular routine like after a shower or on arriving home from work. Anything that reminds you that you need some time too.