Ten Minute in a Green Environment
As little as ten minutes in a natural setting can improve your mental well-being if you spend it in nature.1 Researcher reviewed studies that examined the effects of nature on college-age people (no younger than 15, no older than 30) and found that 10-50 minutes in natural spaces was the most effective way to improve mood, focus, and physiological markers like blood pressure and heart rate.2
Choose Stairs Over Caffeine to Wake You Up!
You are better off climbing the staircase than punching in the vendor for a can of Pepsi or Coke. Researchers in the UGA College of Education found that 10 minutes of walking up and down the stairs at a regular pace was more energizing than ingesting 50 milligrams of caffeine (approximately amount of caffeine in a can of many sodas).3
Did you know that just spending just 10 minutes talking to another person can help improve his memory and performance on tests? This improvement is from speaking, not texting or emailing.4
Researchers discovered that spending ten minutes petting and interacting with a cat and a dog reduces cortisol levels in stressed college students. Students who interacted directly with the pets showed significantly less cortisol in their saliva after the interaction in a controlled trial.5 Of course, pet therapy is not for everyone.
Breathe Deeply and Exhale Slowly
The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve and is the longest in the body. It conveys sensory and motor information to and from the larynx, esophagus, lungs, trachea, heart, and most of the organs in the digestive tract and is a critical component of the neuro-immune and brain-gut axes through bidirectional communication between the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. When stimulated, the vagus nerve exerts anti-inflammatory effects.6
Ten Minutes Massage
Massage—even for 10 minutes—helps combat stress by improving the activity of the parasympathetic nerves that enables a person to relax. The activation of the parasympathetic nerves improves the digestive processes, lowers the heart rate, and reduces inflammation.7 Facial massaging using a roller can increase skin blood flow for more than ten minutes after the massage.8
Take Short Exercise Breaks So You Won’t Break!
Are you working on a mentally demanding challenge? Before sitting down, try this! A 10-minute, one-time burst of moderate or vigorous exercise can measurably and immediately boost your brainpower.9 Neuroscientists discovered that even a short burst of physical activity directly boosts the function of a gene that increases connections between neurons in the hippocampus, the region inside the temporal lobes of the brain associated with learning and memory.10
Sitting for several hours significantly reduces blood flow in the legs. In fact, sitting for 3 hours straight impairs the blood flow in the main artery (femoral artery) of a leg by 50%. Lying down and engaging in leg exercise on the sofa for ten minutes can help to undo the damage that prolonged sitting causes.11 Even slow 5-10 minute walks around the office can reverse harm caused to leg arteries during three hours of prolonged sitting.12
Remember to engage in posture-strengthening exercises at least once a day.
Smiling helps to mitigate some of the effects of stress on our bodies. Standard smiles use the muscles surrounding the mouth. Genuine or Duchenne smiles engage the muscles surrounding both the mouth and eyes. In one study, researchers found that compared to participants who held neutral facial expressions, participants who were instructed to smile, particularly those with Duchenne smiles, had lower heart rate levels after recovery from stressful activities.13
Health is largely an achievement based on life’s littles. To save the total amount of time, discover how many of these activities you can combine during the day.
- American Chemical Society. “In the green of health: Just 5 minutes of ‘green exercise’ optimal for good mental health.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100502080414.htm>.
2. Genevive R. Meredith, Donald A.. Minimum Time Dose in Nature to Positively Impact the Mental Health of College-Aged Students, and How to Measure It: A Scoping Review. Frontiers in Psychology, 2020; 10 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02942
3. Derek D. Randolph, Patrick J. O’Connor. Stair walking is more energizing than low-dose caffeine in sleep-deprived young women. Physiology & Behavior, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.03.013
4. the University of Michigan. “Ten Minutes Of Talking Improves Memory And Test Performance.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 November 2007. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071029172856.htm))
5. Washington State University. “Stress reduction benefits from petting dogs, cats.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190715114302.htm>.
6. Bonas B. The Vagus Nerve in the Neuro-Immune Axis: Implications in the Pathology of the Gastrointestinal Tract. Front. Immunol., 02 November 2017 | https://doi.org/10.33se89/fimmu.2017.01452
7. Meier, Marie. Standardized message interventions as protocols for the induction of psychophysiological relaxation in the laboratory: a block randomized, controlled trial. Scientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-71173-w
8. Miyaji, Akane. Short- and long-term effects of using a facial massage roller on facial skin blood flow and vascular reactivity. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2018; 41: 271 DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2018.09.009
9. Samani A. and Heath M. Executive-related oculomotor control is improved following a 10-min single-bout of aerobic exercise: Evidence from the antisaccade task. Neuropsychologia, 2018; 108: 73. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.11.029
10. Chatzi, Christina Exercise-induced enhancement of synaptic function triggered by the inverse BAR protein, Mtss1L. eLife, 2019; 8 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.45920
11. The Physiological Society. “Simple leg exercises could reduce the impact of a sedentary lifestyle on heart and blood vessels.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180821094203.htm>.
12. University of Missouri-Columbia. “A walk around the office can reverse vascular dysfunction caused by hours at a computer.” ScienceDaily, 28 September 2015↩
13. Grin and Bear It! Smiling Facilitates Stress Recovery. July 30, 2012. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/smiling-facilitates-stress-recovery.html