Though it makes me cringe to say so, one of my biggest personal weaknesses is the tendency to take on too much. No matter how much I pledge to “say no more often” and simplify my schedule, when an interesting or fun opportunity comes along, the temptation is often too great. For overcommitters like myself, January can be an especially tough time since the blank slate of a new year provides endless opportunities for personal projects (of course we can get fit, throw more dinner parties, volunteer every week, be more present with our kids, and take a photography class all this month!) If, like me, you’ve made similar mistakes on past New Year’s and are looking for smaller ways to make positive life changes, this post is for you. Keep scrolling for 16 easy tasks that’ll make you healthier today — that can all be done in 5 minutes or less! And leave a comment to let us know about other quick ways you add a dose of health into your day-to-day so I can add a few to my list (see, there I go again!)
Embrace a healthier no-cook breakfast.
We all know that a healthy breakfast is super important, but, let’s face it, mornings are usually when we’re most time-starved. Instead of grabbing a packaged granola bar, add a couple of no-cook “assembled” breakfasts to your repertoire, like these delicious overnight oats, or greek yogurt with berries and granola.
psst – If you’ve resolved to become more of a morning person this year, why not sign up for our #31Mornings Challenge? That’s one healthy task that’ll actually take less than 10 seconds.
Workout at your desk.
Especially for those of us who sit for long periods at work, squeezing in a few stretches throughout the day is key to feeling energized and keeping our body from adopting terrible posture habits. Checkout these 7 workday stretches you can easily do at your desk, then pick one or two of them to do whenever you have a few minutes between tasks.
Take your vitamins.
Of course, eating whole, nutritionally-packed foods is priority number one, but even the healthiest eaters among us could use a boost from time to time. I’m a believer in popping a whole-food multivitamin, a high-quality probiotic, and magnesium supplement daily — they help me cover all the bases and are a great complement to an already healthy diet.
I’ve started using a foam roller for 5 minutes every night before bed to relieve tension in any of my muscles that feel tight, and I’ve already noticed a huge difference in how much more relaxed I feel when I crawl under the covers. Here are 6 ways to get started with one now.
Add a handful of spinach to your smoothie.
Y’all know we’re big fans of a breakfast smoothie around here, and there’s no quicker way to get your greens on than by throwing a handful of raw or frozen spinach into the blender along with the other ingredients. And if you’re not a huge spinach fan, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how the green taste just kind of disappears behind the sweeter fruit.
Spice things up.
Many delicious spices have surprising health benefits, and adding a sprinkle to your dishes is a quick way to infuse them with flavor and nutrition. I add a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to my oatmeal and coffee, which has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, and adding turmeric to a stir-fry or chili packs it with additional antioxidants.
Take a 5-minute breath break.
Only in the last couple months since I started meditating have I fully appreciated the benefits of breathing. It may sound simple, but taking a 5-minute break in the middle of the day to close your eyes and focus on your breath is a total game-changer. It’s a quick practice that will improve your mood, reduce stress, and focus your energy where you need it to be.
Sip herbal tea.
Savoring a cup of herbal tea at the end of the day is an instant de-stresser, and can even help quell those sugar cravings that tend to strike an hour after dinner. I always sip a cup of Yogi Bedtime tea while I read in bed which usually helps me drift off quicker, and I also talked about how certain herbs can address specific health concerns here.
Keep a water bottle within arm’s reach.
For me, water falls into the “out of sight, out of mind category,” so I do my best to keep a bottle filled with filtered water on my desk or in my car at all times. On days where I stay hydrated throughout the day, I feel more focused and awake. This is my new fave.
Turn on the Night Shift setting on your iPhone.
You’ve probably heard that the blue light of our electronics is really disruptive to sleep, since it disrupts melatonin production and tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime. Enter Night Shift mode: if you’re not already acquainted with this nifty little iPhone and iPad setting, get ready to have your mind blown. If it’s activated, every night when Night Shift mode kicks on, your phone automatically adjusts its display to give off a warmer light that isn’t as disruptive to sleep as the typical blue light. Here’s how to enable it — I have mine set to the From Sunset to Sunrise schedule.
Wash veggies right when you get home from the grocery store.
It only takes a few minutes to rinse and dry veggies right when you get home from the store, but it can be game-changing during the week when you need produce in a hurry. I wrap lettuce in paper towels so its ready for salads, and store sturdy veggies like carrots and celery in glass containers with lids in the fridge where I can see them. When I’m craving a snack, am way more likely to reach for the veggies and hummus. Here are 9 other timesaving post-grocery store habits I try to adopt.
Keep a nutrition journal.
This one may sound like a bummer, but experts have shown time and again that people who write down what they eat in a day lose more weight and consume healthier food. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated: just create a new note on your phone and jot down a quick description after each meal. Then review at the end of the day or end of the week, depending on how you want to track your diet. The mere fact of knowing you have to write it down may make you think twice before reaching for that handful of peanut m&m’s.
Pack your lunch.
Yes, you CAN pack a healthy and delicious lunch in less time than you can pickup something from the fast food window. My go-to weekday salad is usually veggies that I prepped when I got home from the store (see slide 11), leftover cooked chicken or boiled egg or avocado, something crunchy like nuts or seeds, and a homemade dressing that I made for dinner over the weekend. Here are 11 recipes to get you started.
Stretch while you watch TV.
Stretching is one of those things that often gets pushed to the bottom of our priority lists, but it really makes a huge difference in both how your body feels, as well as how long and lean your muscles appear. If you have time to Netflix, you have time to stretch. I make it a habit to dedicate the first 5 minutes while I’m watching any show to getting down on the floor and running through a few stretches that will make you way more flexible – and probably sleep better, too.
Keep a gratitude journal.
Taking a few minutes to write down what you’re thankful for has been shown to lower stress levels, encourage better sleep, and enhance feelings of happiness. In other words, major bang for the five minutes it takes. The key is to just start doing it regularly so that it becomes a habit. I keep a notebook and pen in my nightstand, and every evening I jot down a few things – big or small – that I’m grateful for that day. Don’t worry about good handwriting or complete sentences; the simple act of writing will naturally encourage reflection.
Make your bed in the morning.
Earlier this week, I shared 10 Morning Habits of Super Successful Women, and one of my favorites revelations from the list is that most of them make their bed every single morning. It’s a little task that gives you an instant sense of accomplishment and helps you feel like you can take on whatever the day throws at you. Plus, starting with that one good habit creates a domino effect; the “feel good” vibes from tackling it will motivate you not to skip out on other positive tasks.