Monday, June 7, 2010

Improve Self Esteem and Mood in 5 Minutes

I came across an interesting article in Psychology Today: This study finds that people are benefited by just 5 minutes a day of outdoor activity. The study also claims that the benefits decline when increasing the amount of time spent on and intensity level of the activity. Apparently the purpose of the study was not to measure physical health but to focus on mental health instead.

There are some good points to be taken away from this, however. If you are a person who feels like there's little point in exercising if you can't fit in a full hour, it may be time to reconsider your approach. Even 5 minutes will help you feel better about yourself. When I have been talking to people lately about body image, overeating, and exercise, I have been noticing how often the concept of needing to "fix" a "problem" is brought up. We tend to view our weight gain or food issues as a huge imposition on our lives and our happiness. It quickly becomes overwhelming and frustrating to think every day about all the "shoulds" and "should nots" or the "good" and "bad" choices we make.

If you are making changes in your life, start slowly and define small goals. I think we all have experienced how the "all or nothing" approach works in our lives: "I ate that donut this morning, so I might as well just have McDonald's for lunch and start over tomorrow" or "I didn't work out on Monday or Tuesday, so I'll start fresh next week and work out 5 days in a row." Instead, try to think about it as having a new chance every moment to make choices that epitomize what helps you feel good and support who you want to be. So exercise for those 5 minutes and eat that donut, and maybe you will exercise for another 5 minutes later today and have a salad for dinner.

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