Published on June 27, 2018
Ways to improve your health one minute at a time
Are you keen to make changes and improve how you look and feel—but feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to begin? That’s completely understandable given the panoply of diets, fitness routines and health gurus out there promising to transform your life if you follow a complicated new regimen to the letter.
But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. When it comes to personal wellness, just remember that little things mean a lot: the baby steps you take—often habits that you can develop in less than a minute—can add up to powerful progress toward a you who feels your very best.
What can you do to get started? Well, here’s one thing that may sound easy but can have a dramatic impact: Do nothing. When you feel like snacking between meals, commit to yourself to wait. Even as little as 25 seconds. In a 2017 research study from Rush University in Chicago indicated that when you crave sweets, pausing even for such a short interval before you press that button on the vending machine can encourage you to make a healthier choice1.
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Pay attention to your mind and body; note how you really feel. Ask if you truly need sugar, or if there is a more nourishing choice. Then open your eyes and see if there’s a healthier snack handy. Perhaps a small handful of nuts instead of the empty calories in a chocolate éclair.
Don’t forget to brush and floss after. You may think that wielding that dental floss is a tedious chore, but keeping your teeth and gums free of bacteria is actually more critical to our well-being than many people realize. According to a 2011 research study consisting of 5611 older adults followed between 1992 and 2009 indicated that good oral hygiene not only helps maintain natural, healthy and functional teeth, but is an important health promoter in older adults2. Use the time while flossing to think about your to-do list for the next day—or even daydream about your next vacation. Either way, it’s time very well spent.
Speaking of time well-spent, there are many other tiny tweaks you can make to improve your wellness and quality of life. No time for a yoga class? Spend a few minutes doing some stretching exercises to reduce the stress you feel. Hold a plank for 60 seconds to increase body strength. Be mindful of your posture even when you are sitting still; sitting up straight can impede negative thoughts. Take a deep breath to increase your state of relaxation. Then pat yourself on the back for the positive impact of all of these small, easy steps you’re incorporating into your daily routine. Well done!
- Appelhans BM, French SA, Olinger T, et al. Leveraging delay discounting for health: Can time delays influence food choice?. Appetite. 2018;126:16-25. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2018.03.010
- Paganini-Hill A, White SC, Atchison KA. Dental health behaviors, dentition, and mortality in the elderly: the leisure world cohort study. J Aging Res. 2011;2011:156061. doi:10.4061/2011/156061