The holidays are here and we’re all wondering the same thing: Where do we find the time to take care of ourselves? The truth is, there's never enough time to do everything, but there's always enough time to do the most important things. Here are five ways to improve your health and be happier through next year.
1. If You Have 1 to 25 minutes – Enjoy a Mindful Meal
Instead of worrying about calories, food rules or those dieting plans you aren't following, redirect the focus to reconnecting with your body through mindful eating. Mindful eating involves paying attention to the experience of eating, not what is eaten, and there are no rules to be followed. It’s part of a practice called intuitive eating that teaches you how best to nourish your body without judgment.
To begin your mindful meal, remove distractions – say goodbye to TV dinners, cellphones and eating on the run. Use all your senses and notice the tastes, smells and textures of the food you eat. Focus on eating the meal with curiosity and care. How are you enjoying the food? Are you reaching fullness? Ultimately this is the process of intuitive eating, not a diet. To learn more, I recommend reading the book “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.
2. If You Have 7 Minutes – Exercise
The main reason people skip exercise is they say they don't have time. However, one of the beautiful things about fitness is that it’s flexible. Any amount of time you spend being physically active matters. Waiting for your bread to toast? Drop down and do some pushups. Check out my blog post on Fitting in Fitness for some quick activity options to get you feeling fit.
Use tools to help you out. If you’re looking for some variety, check out the 7 Minute Workout app and have a workout ready to go whenever and wherever you are. The app provides movement instructions, a timer and announced and visual cues for easy use during workouts.
3. If You Have 20 Minutes – Tidy Up
Gather old clothes, toys, gadgets or tools and donate to a cause you care about, like the Goodwill, or organize a coat or toy drive at your office. A simple closet cleanout gives you the opportunity to help others, which makes you feel good. Follow the advice of professional cleaning consultant and author Marie Kondo, and get rid of things that don't spark joy. You’ll also feel less stressed if your physical space is cleaner. Who knows, maybe this will help you sleep better, feel calmer and avoid stress eating, which can undermine our best intentions.
4. If You Have 3 Minutes – Journal
Our thoughts are ultimately the stories that narrate our lives. Are you feeling optimistic or pessimistic? Optimists tend to be healthier because they take action even when things are going wrong. Get in touch with your story today and write for three minutes without stopping. Now read what you wrote and ask yourself, “Is this the story I want to tell?” If yes, hooray! Keep it going. If no, change it. You have the power to choose how you respond to these thoughts and feelings. Choose differently. Do something right away that shifts your mindset to a more positive one.
5. If You Have 1 Minute – Say Thanks and Mean It
Tell someone how much you appreciate them and why, then wait for the magic to happen. You both will get a mood boost, which inspires more positivity and better self-care during the holidays. When you feel better, you’re more likely to set and stick to goals, from sleep to eating and exercise goals.
Go ahead and give thanks, hugs and kisses to those who mean the most to you. Looking for a new read? Try Janice Kaplan’s book "The Gratitude Diaries," which details her one-year journey to live gratefully.
What Matters Most?
It’s the experiences we share with the people we love that bring meaning to our life, not things. Time is the most precious gift, and it can’t be bought. A meaningful life with flashes of joy you create is often an overlooked ingredient of health and happiness. As you gather together during the holidays, think of what each person in your life means to you. Share what matters most to you this holiday season by using the hashtag #whatmattersmost.
Improve Your Mind, Body And Heart This Holiday (In 25 Minutes Or Less) was originally published on U.S. News & World Report.
Also on HuffPost: