7 Easy Things to Do for Yourself in 10 Minutes by Laura Tilt

7 Easy Things to Do for Yourself in 10 Minutes by Laura Tilt

Running on empty is a feeling that many of us identify with. We live in extra-busy times, and taking care of yourself amidst a never-ending to-do list can feel impossible. But if you don’t take time for yourself, it catches up with you in the end. A while ago I came to realise that no one was coming to offer me time out, and that I needed to act in my best interests and claim it for myself. Consider this a gentle nudge for you to do the same.

With this in mind, here are seven things you can do to support your overall health (and gut health!) that take no more than ten minutes. I’ve found that doing two or three of these over the day makes a huge difference to my sense of wellbeing and how I feel at the end of each day. Start by choosing one a day and see how it makes you feel. The goal is to find activities that help refill your cup.

1. Spend 10 Minutes in the Morning Light

Getting into daylight shortly after waking up switches off melatonin, the sleep hormone. It tells your brain a new day has begun, helping you feel more alert. Magically, it can also help you fall asleep faster at night, because it starts an internal timer which tells your body to start making melatonin again around 16 hours later. And the positive effects of a decent night’s sleep ripple across our physical and mental health.

The good news is that as of February 22nd it’ll be light at 7am. Take advantage by sitting outside (think backdoor step or garden) for 10 minutes after waking with your first drink of the day (water is the way to go if you've already knocked back your Symprove shot). If you don’t have an outdoor space or the weather's not cooperating, sit by an open window for a similar effect. Take those 10 minutes to ease into your day without rushing and see how you feel.

2. Take a Movement Snack

Movement is a powerful way to care for your mind and body - it protects heart health, can reduce stress and increase the diversity of your gut microbiome. Health guidelines recommend we get 30 minutes of movement five days of the week but finding a solid chunk of time isn't always feasible.

That’s why I’m a fan of movement snacks; shorter bursts of movement that you do throughout the day. They’re easier to fit in, they give you a breather from whatever else is going on, and a sense of accomplishment too. Choose a movement snack that fits with what you need in the moment. Here are three ideas:

  • Walk it out: Change into some comfortable shoes and step outside for a 10 minute walk. Try this if you’ve been stuck indoors or in front of a screen and need some fresh air and a change of scenery.
  • Get Strong: Only 1 in 20 of us are meeting the recommendation to strength train twice a week. You can do it at home, using your body weight or some dumbbells.
  • Stretch it out: Whether it's first thing in the morning, before heading to bed as a way of winding down, or as a midday pick-me-up, a 10 minute full body stretch is your ticket to feeling blissful, especially if you have tense, tight muscles due to being desk-bound or carrying around little ones.

3. Prep a Plant-Packed Breakfast or Lunch

I know a lot of parents who spend time making sure everyone else is fed, only for their own meals to be an afterthought. If that hits home, this one's for you. Taking ten minutes to prepare a breakfast or lunch you can eat later is a gift to your future self. Building it around fibre rich plant foods will steady your energy, keep you feeling fuller longer, and provide important nutrients for you and your gut microbes. Here are two quick and delicious ideas (tip: cook some brown rice, quinoa or bulgar wheat alongside your evening meal so you can prep a lunch the next day).

Fibre rich breakfast idea: Mix ½ cup of rolled oats with ½ cup of milk of your choice, 1 tablespoon of live yoghurt or kefir, 1 tablespoon of seeds of your choice (for example chia, pumpkin, flax) and a drizzle of a sweetener like maple syrup, honey or even a spoon of fruit compote. Mix in a container and leave for a couple of hours before eating (or overnight). Stir and top with fresh fruit (or a handful of defrosted frozen fruit).

Fibre rich lunch idea: Drain half a can of chickpeas, beans or lentils and mix with some cooked quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice (or try a ready-cooked mixed grain pack from the supermarket). Add lots of chopped fresh herbs (mint, coriander, parsley), a cup of chopped veg (cucumber, tomatoes, peppers), a spoonful of pesto or some olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and seasoning. Give it a good stir, pack it into a lunchbox, and pop it in the fridge until you're ready to enjoy.

4. Sit down (Away from Your Desk) to Eat

Since I’ve become a mum, I’ve developed a habit of fridge grazing and speed eating. Eating while distracted—whether it's checking emails or attending to other tasks—often leads to eating faster and feeling less satisfied as a result. Chewing your food well is also an important part of the digestive process, because it increases the food’s surface area, allowing digestive juices to do their job efficiently once food arrives in your stomach.

If you're a desk diner, try hitting pause and be present with your meal. If you can (and it’s warm enough) take your meal outdoors into some green space like a park. Just 10 minutes surrounded by nature can lift your mood and sense of wellbeing. Alternatively if you have the chance to, join your coworkers to eat. Research from the University of Oxford found the more often we eat with others the more likely we are to feel happy.

5. Meditate

The practice of meditation involves resting in the present moment. It offers an opportunity to step out of ‘doing’ into being, by focusing on the breath and observing rather than following our thoughts. With regular practice, meditation can help to reduce stress and reshape how we respond to difficult situations.

Stress hormones can trigger gut symptoms, and over time can alter the gut microbiome in less favourable ways, so finding ways to manage stress is good for your mind and gut. If you’re new to meditation, a guided practice can be really helpful. Headspace offers a 7-14 day free trial, or try ‘Insight Timer’ for free meditations.

6. Rest (In Viparita Karani)

If what you actually need is to rest, try lying in Viparita Karani for 5-10 minutes, if you can. Also known as Legs Up the Wall Pose, this restorative yoga posture is known for its ability to calm and relax. To give it a try, follow these steps:

  1. Find a clear wall space and sit sideways against it, with one hip touching the wall.
  2. Gently lower your back to the ground as you swing your legs up against the wall.
  3. Allow your arms to rest comfortably by your sides, palms facing upwards.
  4. Close your eyes, and let your body sink into the ground.
  5. For extra rest, place an eye pillow or rolled towel over your eyes.
  6. Stay in Viparita Karani for 5-10 minutes before gently swinging your legs to the side and down to the floor.

7. Journal

Journalling is having a moment and there’s a good reason to get involved. Putting pen to paper offers an opportunity to declutter your mind, unravel and make sense of our thoughts and experiences. Grab a notebook and pen, a cup of tea and find a quiet corner. Give yourself 10 minutes to let your thoughts spill onto the page. If you prefer structure, try using these prompts:

  • How do I feel?
  • What do I need (most today)?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • Is there anything I need to get off my chest?

We’d love to hear what you’re doing for yourself… tag us on social and let us know.