Taking time out from the office, phone calls and never ending to-do lists can have big benefits when it comes to reducing stress and improving wellbeing. Yet finding time for just you, every day, is easier said than done – particularly when juggling work, children, or both.
But improving your wellbeing doesn’t have to involve daily yoga classes, hours of meditation or training for a half marathon.
Dr. Timothy Sharp, executive coach and founder of The Happiness Institute, suggests setting aside five minutes for yourself each day – whatever you can manage – and slowly building from there, rather than striving for a whole hour each day.
“Start off with whatever you can, even if it’s just five minutes. Maybe it’s five minutes twice a day or three times a day,” he says.
According to Sharp, whether you’ve got 20 minutes on the train or 10 minutes during lunch, there are a number of things you can do to improve your wellbeing, like walking or simply savouring your morning coffee.
“It might just be a walk around the block at lunch time,” he says. “From an exercise point of view that’s not going to make a massive difference, but from the psychological point of view it can be really good.”
Not surprisingly, meditation is recommended as an effective way to improve wellbeing by both Sharp and cardiologist Dr. Ross Walker.
“The best form of downtime, I think, is meditation, but it doesn’t actually have to be meditation. Just half an hour off the merry-go-round of life,” says Walker.
And of course, as well as finding some downtime every day, Walker and Sharp emphasise the importance of physical exercise.
“It’s really important that people cultivate half an hour of exercise – exercise that tests you, makes you short of breath and a bit sweaty – most days of the week,” says Walker. “If you can’t get half an hour, 15 minutes is certainly better than nothing.”