Improve your day in 15 minutes

My work requires me to be 100% present, to learn and memorize, to make fast decisions, to connect with people, to encourage and motivate, all day long, every day. It’s emotionally demanding, and working virtually adds to the demand. Despite getting all the sleep I need (and trust me, these 8 hours have been literally life-giving), I sometimes feel still a zombie by the end of the day. I can’t focus on anything for long, sort of antsy-tired, and realized I needed to clear my brain and revive myself, so I could feel “alive” instead of half-dead after 6pm. Only I didn’t know how to get it, aside from taking a week at the beach. A great idea, but definitely not doable for the wear-and-tear of everyday stuff.

Your workday is just as full of a long to-do list, meetings, deadlines, creating value and content – cognitive and emotional demands, sensory overload, all the while seated at a desk and working virtually some of the time. Lots of everything going on. So here is what I found, and what I want to share with you: invest 1% of your day to recharge your mental batteries!

It doesn’t replace a week at the beach, but it’s doable, it works – and 1% of a 24-hour day represents 15 minutes. So let’s see how to use 15 minutes to get best results.

Improve your day in 15 minutes: invest in a slow “sniffing” walk

  1. What’s a “sniffing walk? Imagine your dog stepping outdoors and sniffing the air, scanning the landscape and simply enjoying it. Do the human version: walk slowly and comfortably, look around and admire, breathe in deeply, sniff the air, listen for birds, and just enjoy. For 15 minutes. That’s it. No step-counting, no power-walking or fit-bit info.
  2. Leave your phone behind, or put it on airplane mode. Seriously, if your phone is on, you know you can’t really relax!
  3. Step outdoors. Walking outdoors in fresh air and natural daylight is calming, it gives you breathing space and time away from work and busyness.This is not a power walk, or a Fitbit “productive” walk. Simply stop being productive for 15 minutes. Unplug. Give yourself permission to enjoy the day. Fifteen minutes to walk and breathe and take in. A mindfulness moment to rest and recharge. That’s the whole point.
  4. Walk in a natural setting if it’s accessible, near trees or a park, somewhere where you have a bit of nature, natural light and more space around you. Walking, even though it’s not “perfect”, still works. Doing it is what works – not the perfect setting.
  5. Walk slowly, paying attention to what you see, hear and smell… I often think that my dog does it better than I do: sniffing the air, looking around for what’s new, curious about a bird… I’m proud I’m learning from my dog how to enjoy this moment!
  6. Stand tall, so you can breathe freely. And good posture makes you feel better about yourself, too.

Why walking 15 minutes works: science & common sense

  1. You breathe more fully, more deeply when you walk (even at a slow pace) providing more oxygen to your brain. Sitting restricts breathing, especially when you get tired and slump in your chair…
  2. You step away from the urgency of demands of work (as long as your phone is off or on airplane mode). You can literally breathe.
  3. You rest your brain and recharge your brain power, so you can be more productive – instead of dragging yourself.
  4. As you allow yourself to take in the scenery, to look, smell, listen and feel, you’re not thinking about your to-do list. It’s a real break.
  5. Time for yourself opens your day; it opens new perspectives and expands your thinking power. Without thinking about work, you suddenly see more clearly what matters today.
  6. Natural light improves both your energy and your mood. Yes, natural full-spectrum light is a mood booster, according to CMHA (Canadian Mental health Association).
  7. You are actually walking (yay), instead of thinking about walking; this is the power of tiny steps that can be easily integrated in your busy day! It takes just 1% of your time!
  8. Fitness! Even 15 minutes of a slow walk works to build cardiovascular fitness, according to ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine).
  9. You are calming down AND energizing; walking in natural space helps you relax, get inspired and recharge.
  10. You are doing something good and positive for yourself.
  11. You give yourself permission to enjoy a moment without guilt, knowing how much good you’ll get out of it.
  12. It feels good.


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