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10 Ways to Improve Your Day in Just 5 Minutes

Jennifer Soong, WebMD Oct 23, 2012

Five minutes. It's only a little bit of time. But it's long enough for you to do one thing that could make your whole day better.

That's a great return on your time investment!

So take five minutes and try one of these 10 simple ways to lower stress, boost your mood, and get more energy. It might give you that extra spark you need to meet the challenges of the day.

1. Make your bed . This isn't about being a clean freak. It's a small ritual that can help create a calm environment for you in your bedroom -- and a soothing bedroom is part of "sleep hygiene" -- little habits that can help you sleep better. Author Gretchen Rubin recommends making your bed as a daily habit in her book, The Happiness Project . Do it first thing in the morning, and you've got one less thing to worry about for the rest of the day.

2. Pack a snack. Before you head out the door in the morning, prep a healthy snack to take with you. Ideas include fruit, unsalted nuts, and low-fat cheese or yogurt.  When you get hungry later in the afternoon, you'll be ready!

3. Clear your desk. From stray papers to scattered coffee mugs, clutter can make you lose focus and curb productivity. Declutter your outer environment and you may feel more organized and better able to concentrate on the task at hand.

4. Pump up the music. Several studies have found that listening to music can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and boost mood. The right music has the power to change your attitude. So load up your MP3 player and create a playlist that will make you smile -- whether you're working or working out. As long as you don't blast it (bad for your hearing), this is a safe, healthy way to make your day more enjoyable.

5. Sniff a lemon. For a quick de-stressing trick, turn to an underrated sense -- your sense of smell. Japanese researchers found that linalool; a substance found in lemons, may turn down the classic "flight-or-fight" stress response. Not into lemons? Try basil, juniper, or lavender -- those scents have also been found to lower stress.  

6. Stretch. No need to put on your yoga pants or get all bendy. Just a few easy moves will do. Stretch your arms overhead. Raise and lower your shoulders a couple of times. Stretch your legs as you lean your torso against a wall. Be gentle, so you don't overdo it.  Stretching can help improve your circulation and flexibility, and may help ease the tight muscles that come with stress.

7. Meditate . It's easier than you may think. Here's how: Settle into a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor. Then follow your breath -- in, out -- for a few minutes. Thoughts are bound to bubble up in your mind -- no problem. Just let them float by and turn your attention back to your breath. Meditating daily, even just for a few minutes, may  help tame stress.

8. Keep a gratitude diary. Take a minute every day to write down what you're thankful for -- big or small. It's easy to vent about weather, traffic, or job woes, but complaining brings negative energy along with it. Being thankful for what you have can make you appreciate all the positives in your life.

9. Turn off your electronics.Take a little break, already, from all your gadgets. Staring at computer screens and electronics all day long can zap your energy and encourage inactivity. So log off -- of everything -- every now and then. This is especially important to allow you to unwind and relax before bed. Just because the world is on, 24-7, you don't have to be!

10. Prioritize. Give yourself permission to admit that you can't do everything, all at once. Instead, you can nibble away at your to-do list, and feel more satisfied, by setting some priorities. So make a list, figure out what really matters, what can wait, and what you can skip. Work your way down the list, handling your top priorities first. Bit by bit, you'll get there!

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