Feeling burnt-out, tired, worn-thin? Not enough hours in the day to get everything done? Constant nagging thoughts whirring around your head? Stop now – take a break! It's about time you gave yourself a time-out.
When it comes to looking after ourselves, we can be our own worst enemy, always pushing our needs to the bottom of the list, behind work, taking care of the family and doing endless chores. It's all too easy to spend every day going through the motions – ploughing through your to-do list while dreaming of escaping to a Caribbean island and leaving your boss, mother-in-law and that towering pile of bills behind.
That's why it's more important than ever that we step back and take a breather. You don't need to do anything big to overhaul your life in minutes. In fact, the simplest of things can infinitely improve your wellbeing. By simply scheduling in ten minutes of ‘me time’ every day, your life can be happier, healthier and more productive. And yes, you can spare ten minutes, no matter how busy you are...
Take a look at our list of 10 great ideas so you can call 'time-out' and give yourself a break without feeling too guilty.
1. Love your commute
Too often we trudge down well-worn mental ruts, so put down the paper as you travel from A to B and focus on the world around you instead. What can you see, hear or smell? Activating your senses will make you feel more alive in the moment and have a knock on affect on the rest of your day.
2. Wash it away
There’s something both comforting and decadent about soaking in the tub – one study found a bath a day can improve feelings of wellbeing and positivity. Even the ritual of running it can be relaxing: listening to cascading water, swishing bubbles and lighting candles. We love Radox Feel Relaxed Bath Soak with Lavender & Waterlily, 90p.
3. Set goals
Take ten minutes out to think of some short, medium and long-term goals. Things you've always wanted to do but have felt too busy or too scared to try. Writing them down will make the plan feel more 'official' in your head and you'll feel positive for taking action.
4. Read a chapter
Reading is often relegated to the ‘not important’ pile. You can sometimes feel you’re not actually doing anything when you’re reading (funny that we rarely feel that way while watching TV). Booking in ten minutes to read will help fire up your imagination, take your mind off stress and make you feel that you’ve genuinely had some time to yourself.
5. Sharpen your colouring pencils
Adult colouring books are all the rage. Seriously. Proven to reduce stress, they force your mind to switch off from everyday worries, focusing on something mindless instead. So pick up the Tropical Wonderland colouring book by Millie Marotta, £5, and grab some Crayola Coloured Pencils, £2.
6. Introduce phone blackouts
What’s the first thing you do in the morning – check your phone? You’re not alone. We’re ‘switched on’ to technology 24/7 and it’s unhealthy, making us feel disconnected if we’re without it for a second – people even use their mobiles in the shower! Start keeping your phone in a zipped pocket or a drawer so you actively have to choose to look at it, rather than picking it up absentmindedly. You'll soon realise how much you reach for it on auto-pilot and start to feel more in control and less panicky about being without it. Use the time you save checking your phone to read a book or listen to music.
7. Cook yourself calm
Grab a saucepan or blender and whip up a simple recipe that involves plenty of chopping, mixing and concentration (so, not beans on toast). If you ask chefs why they love their jobs, many will say it’s because they’re totally absorbed by it – not thinking about bills, emails or that argument they had with their sister. For inspiration, and to give Nigella a run for her money, check out our ever-evolving list of recipes.
8. Cultivate grattitude
Before you go to bed write down three good things that happened to you that day: a stranger returning the glove you dropped, making someone laugh, or seeing an old friend. Studies show that people who feel grateful tend to be happier, healthier and more optimistic.
9. Work up a sweat
A ten-minute blast of exercise can help blitz both your body and your mind. Jump on a mini-trampoline, shove on a workout DVD or grab a skipping rope and feel your heart start to thump. Exercise releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkiller hormone, helping you to feel better both physically and mentally.
10. Banish the snooze button
Get a LOUD alarm clock and jump out of bed when it rings! Hitting snooze gives you time to resent getting up and allows worries to creep in. Your mood will lift naturally as soon as you face the day. Try it for a week and see how much time you save and how much better you feel. George Home Copper Finish Double Bell Alarm Clock, £5.