WELLNESS
01/20/2016 08:14 am ET Updated Jan 20, 2017

Design Your Days: Take 15 Minutes for a Happier and Healthier You

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Do you think you need a complete and total overhaul to transform your life? Trust me, you don't. Chances are that there are many good things working in your life so there's no need for a complete overhaul, simple makeovers will do the trick.

Just like a fresh can of paint can easily makeover a room, you can easily makeover your life with simple tweaks. Take simple and small actions every day to design a life that brings you joy.

Design your days and #Take15Minutes for a happier and healthier you.

We lead busy lives and we're busy trying to juggle so many things which can be stressful. We need time to unwind and focus on ourselves so we can revitalize our lives. Using a small pocket of time each day can reap big rewards. So design your day and #Take15Minutes every day just for you.

Spend this time alone without any distractions to disconnect, clear your mind, enjoy the stillness and get your body moving.

Decide in which part of the day you would like to #Take15Minutes. Will it be early in the morning before your day begins? Maybe you would like a midday restorative break or one later in the evening. You need to decide which part of the day those 15 minutes work best for you. Spending this valuable "me" time each day may help you live a little bit happier and healthier.

Once you've established which part of the day works best for you, decide how you would like to spend your 15 minutes. Taking this time is like finding your bliss.

#Take15Minutes and:

Read a book. Simply read for enjoyment. According to Forbes, one of the five things successful people do before they go to bed is to read a book. Reading for enjoyment is the key to relaxing. Here are some suggestions to get you started. I'm reading Brooklyn by Colm Toibin and next up, Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.

Listen to your favorite joyful soothing music. Research shows that listening to joyful music is good for your health. Research has found that listening to soothing music can decrease blood pressure and anxiety levels in patients with certain heart conditions. Research from the University of Maryland Medical Center found that listening to joyful music can have a healthy effect on blood vessel function, and most of the participants in the study stated that country music is their favorite type of music that evokes joy. Here are "5 Ways Music Improves Our Health" from Huffington Post.

Mediate. Meditation can help bring you a sense a calm and decrease negative emotions and help you manage stress. Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind, and while you can practice mediation anywhere, having your own little cocoon nook, can make it very calming. Meditation can help enhance your physical and emotional well-being. During meditation, focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled and chaotic thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. Spending even a few minutes in mediation can restore your calm, wipe away stress and bring inner peace. Research shows that meditation may reduce blood pressure as well as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Write in a gratitude journal or bliss journal. Every day, write down things you are grateful for. Write down things that bring you pleasure. Write down things you love. Focus on the positive things in your life, and write them in your gratitude journal or what I like to call a bliss journal. I like to say bliss journal because research shows expressing gratitude can foster happiness. "In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships."

Go outdoors. Go outside for a calming walk and observe the beauty for a happier and healthier you.

Take a warm bath. Soak and let the stillness of the water and the silence of the room bring you inner peace and tranquility. A hot bath can relax muscles and counteract the physical symptoms of stress. (Quick tip: Before you get into the bathtub, test the water with your hand. The Burn Foundation recommends that you move your hand rapidly through the water for several seconds to make sure it's not too hot before getting in. And the temperature should not exceed 100º F/39º C.)

Pause and Practice Mindfulness. Appreciate the moments. Mindfulness can help you deal with emotions in a positive way.

Find your cocoon. Find a little special space in your home that's your cocoon to relish the simple things.

Just move. Walk, run, dance, hike, cycle-just keep moving. To reap big rewards here, when it comes to physical activity, #Take15Minutes two times a day, everyday. That'll give you the 30 minutes of physical activity that's recommended by the experts. [The World Health Organization recommends for adults ages 18-64 years old, "30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 times per week."

Prep meals for the next day. Trust me, ask a great Chef and he'll or she'll tell you prepping is key. For example, if you know you're making a healthy stir-fry for dinner, prep the night before. #Take15Minutes and chop all the fresh veggies--peppers, broccoli, red onion, carrots or whatever veggies you choose. Plus, spending time in the kitchen can be very relaxing to some people.

So you don't need a major overhaul. Small simple healthy design actions can reap big rewards. Small steps=Big impact.

Do you #Take15Minutes every day? I'd love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts and comments in the conversation section below. Thanks.

Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA, HEALTH DESIGNER™
BarbaraFicarra.com
"Design Your Healthy Life" #DYHL #Take15Minutes

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Design a Life That Brings You Joy!