If you don't think you have time to work on yourself, think again.
What can you do in five minutes?
- drink a coffee
- brush your teeth
- listen to a song
- make a sandwich
- hard-boil an egg
But what if you could also do something more substantial?
To move your life forward?
What if you could resolve an issue that's been nagging at you for years?
Or give yourself some genuine comfort.
Taking care of business doesn't have to be a year's long process.
Sometimes a five-minute effort can pay off in huge ways.
Because life has a way of complicating itself, doesn't it.
Something happens, and instead of dealing with it straight away, we let things slide.
Ignoring and denying our issues until problems get out of control and our mental health suffers.
Days turn into weeks, weeks to years, and suddenly, what could have been quickly settled becomes complicated and nasty.
We do this to ourselves.
But what if you took action?
Took one tiny baby step.
Just started doing something - anything.
Could one little move in the right direction every day add up to a life-changing journey of little steps?
Are five minutes enough to create change in your life?
I'm going to take a gamble and say it is.
If you can drink a coffee every day, you have time for any of these:
Say sorry to someone.
Is there someone you hurt years ago that you can't stop thinking about, an old flame you ghosted, a friend you betrayed?
Sometimes we do things we regret for years.
You know — that thing you stew about when you wake up in the middle of the night, or you're trying to fall asleep or.
Chances when you did that thing, you were a very different person than you are now.
Taking five minutes to write a short email saying you know that what you did was wrong and you're sorry could be deeply meaningful and healing.
There are so many benefits to saying sorry.
When you say sorry, the other person can:
- Start or deepen their healing journey
- Stop feeling threatened by you
- Get unstuck and move past anger
- Begin to forgive
Apologizing can help you:
- Let go of debilitating shame and guilt.
- Cultivate a sense of self-respect.
- Be more emotionally connected with the people in your life by becoming more vulnerable.
- Embrace humility
You could tell them you're not expecting anything in return, not even a response, but you want to let them know that you know what you did.
You don't need to send it that minute, either.
The important thing is to get the ball rolling on doing something you should have done years ago and take that first step towards making amends.
But remember, you have to approach the other person without expectations, understanding they might not forgive you right away - or ever.
If the episode was nasty, the other person might still be hurting even after many years.
It's important to respect their reaction, whatever it is.
Have a good cry.
Have a messy, loud, unruly cry into your pillow, or if you're alone, a good old-fashioned, toddleresque scream-cry.
You'll be glad you did.
There are so many reasons to have a big weep-fest.
Having a good cry can:
- Release stress
- Resolve pent up emotions
- Help your body heal from trauma
- Soothe physical pain
- Create greater happiness by clearing negative emotions
- Prevent depression
It even lowers cortisol levels because emotional tears contain higher stress hormones than when your eyes are just watering.
There are even clubs in Japan where people go specifically to cry.
A five-minute cry might not be the answer to all your problems, but it can get the healing ball rolling if you've been holding your feelings in for a long time.
It might be enough to release a blockage so you can start a more honest relationship with your feelings.
Is there someone you've held a grudge against for years that you just don't want to let go of?
Someone who burned you so bad that you hate them and feel like you always will?
Take five minutes to change your mind.
Yes, decide that you're going to forgive them and then make a plan. Even if you feel like you can never do it, just take that baby step and entertain the idea.
Because forgiveness and healing go together like soul-soothing PB&J, you can use many self-help techniques to help with this.
You could carve out five minutes every day to:
Find what feels right and get a game plan together for carving out five minutes every day to foster forgiveness on one issue.
Get rid of one thing that causes you grief.
Do you have something kicking around your house that bugs you every time you look at it?
- Is it a picture of your old flame?
- A diary of the worst year of your life?
- A piece of clothing that reminds you of a terrible incident?
- That thing you trip over every day in the hallway (Think the Dunphey step on Modern Family).
You probably have one thing in your home that gets in your way or reminds you of something you'd rather not be reminded of.
For me, it was my old diaries — the ones from my teens.
They were filled with the terrible things I went through back then.
My family's dysfunction, my older sibling, constantly tormenting me, the mean friends I chose, and the grief it all caused me.
One day I realized there was no reason to hang onto them. Keeping them wasn't bringing anything good to the table.
I didn't want or need to be reminded of those terrible days anymore.
I'd made a wonderful life for myself and was genuinely happy, but every time I looked at my old diaries, they made me sad and ashamed.
So one day, I burned them.
I made a quick scan and took one page to remind me of what I've overcome to be where I am.
Then I ripped up the rest of them and burned them in the backyard.
It was so freeing and such a release, and even though the symbolic gesture was meaningful, it was more than that.
It was a simple, tangible action. Getting rid of those painful relics of my past and not having to look at them anymore was liberating.
Hug someone or yourself.
Take five minutes to hug someone.
I know it's cliche, but it really works.
In Covid times, it'll have to be someone in your household or bubble, but that's okay.
They might need it as much as you do.
If you're alone, you can close your eyes and envision someone you want to hug and then hug yourself or a pillow.
Studies show that visualization is a great way to trick your mind into believing something, so if you imagine the person you want to be hugging, your brain might just think you are.
You can also visualize yourself or your inner child for your five-minute hug-fest.
When I lived alone, I did this. It helped me cope with the feelings of abandonment and isolation I struggled with.
Visualizing holding my inner child and self-hugging was a way to nurture myself in my darkest hours.
I went deep into my mind and held that little girl the way I wished someone had held her in the first place.
It was one of the ways I parented myself as an adult.
In fact, hugging is so powerful, even a ten-second snuggle can have benefits.
Giving yourself those hugs can be just what you need to help yourself through a hard time when there's no one else around.
So there are some small steps you can take to a better life, and each one you take gets you closer to where you want to be - no matter how small.
Baby steps are recommended for everything from dieting to drug rehab.
These are some problems that taking small steps can help with:
- Being Too Emotionally-Driven
- Being controlling or rigid
- Perfectionism and Self-criticism
- Confrontation issues
- Anger issues
- Being passive
- Being indecisive
In these cases, small steps lead to lasting change by avoiding overwhelm.
But remember, if you're struggling with mental illness or severe emotional distress, please contact a doctor or mental health professional.
If you're in crisis, please call a helpline.
For everyone else, if you find yourself stuck in a funk, or clinging to old pain even though you've worked hard to move past it, look at this little list and see if you can't find one small action you can take today to help you keep moving in the right direction.
Sometimes five minutes well spent can lead to substantial healing and significant life changes.
Even if your skeptical, why not try one or two of these things, the worst that can happen is you waste five or ten minutes.