Feeling a positive shift in your day-to-day mood doesn’t always mean monumental change. And it doesn’t require a lot of time, either.
Small habits can lead to lasting and impactful results. These micro moves take less than an hour and can change your perspective when faced with an overwhelming situation. Try these 10 micro moves to regain calm in your life.
1. Make your bed
If you were told to make your bed as a teenager, your parents were on to something. Making your bed every morning is a routine that starts your day with a fresh canvas. It also gives you a clutter-free bed to retire to so your body has a physical and visual signal that it’s time to wind down at night.
2. Automate your finances
According to PwC’s 9th Annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 58% of workers said their finances were a primary source of stress. The data also revealed that workers who have financial concerns are more likely to be distracted at work.
Downloading an app that automates areas of your finances can help alleviate some of this worry. Whether it’s an app that tracks your budget or one which helps you invest in stocks as a beginner or using spare change from your purchases, an app can take one less financial worry off your shoulders.
3. Take an exercise break
Whether you choose to go on a 10-minute walk or a 45-minute Peloton ride, fitting exercise into your routine improves your mood. Studies show that aerobic exercise increases blood flow to parts of the brain that react to stress, and can reduce anxiety and depression. Find a workout that motivates you each day to feel more at ease — walking, cycling, swimming and even dancing all count.
4. Enjoy a bath
Research suggests that taking a hot bath not only relaxes and soothes your muscles but also offers mental health benefits. A 30-minute soak can help you decompress after a stressful day.
Include other relaxation elements during your bath, like lighting a candle and playing calming music to enhance this micro move.
Adding Epsom salt to your bath water can also offer benefits. A study found that magnesium — a primary compound of Epsom salt — increases serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone that’s responsible for mood, specifically feelings of happiness.
Several scientific studies found that meditation is effective at managing mental health, including anxiety, depression and insomnia, and can improve your quality of life overall.
Try a morning meditation as part of your routine to start the day. When entering your practice, find a quiet area where you won’t be disturbed so you can be present in your meditation.
6. Make a list
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about everything you need to do for the day, pause and write it all down in a list. Lists organize your thoughts and give you a simple place to start.
When making a list, keep it short so that the number of tasks you’re tackling each day is realistic. For example, stick to three to five of your most important to-dos.
7. Timeblock tasks
When a school or work project feels so overwhelming that it causes you to procrastinate (which causes further stress), time-blocking can help.
For every task you need to accomplish in a day, you’ll dedicate a specific block of time to your physical or digital calendar. While you’re working on a time block, you’re committing to zero distractions and devoting your attention to the particular time-blocked task.
The goal is to finish the task in the allotted time, but if you don’t, you must stop when time ends to move on to the next time-blocked task on your schedule.
8. Activate your muscles
The Jacobson Muscle Relaxation technique is a micro move that’s effective at helping you instantly feel relaxed. The best part is you can complete this exercise cycle in less than a minute.
Also known as “progressive muscle relaxation,” it requires you to focus on a muscle group and tense or tighten that area, holding the tension for a few seconds. Then, slowly relax the muscles in the area over an interval of a few seconds.
9. Get some sunshine
Research suggests that being outside in the sunshine can help improve your mental well-being. When sunlight is in contact with your skin, your brain releases serotonin which promotes a positive mood, and encourages feelings of calm and focus.
Additionally, there are other physiological benefits to sunshine, like prompting your body to naturally produce vitamin D for healthy bones. It also acts as a signal for your body to release nitric oxide into the blood which aids in heart health and lowered blood pressure.
Whether you have a few seconds or a few minutes to spare, these are just a few techniques to help you reclaim your calm throughout the day.