5 Easy 5-Minute Practices to Start Every Day Better

A Philly fitness trainer shares her top five practices to set the stage for an awesome day. (Psst: early-morning dance parties are involved.)

In our society, we’ve been conditioned to seek quick fixes for our bodies and other aspects of life, like our mental state and diet. But here’s the question: Can there really be such a thing as a “quick fix”? I’m here to give you an encouraging Yes! In some cases, at least. If you devote just five minutes every day to developing a healthy mind and body, then actual change can occur. However, there is one condition to making healthy change stick, and that’s consistency. When repeated daily, these five simple practices will become ritual in your routine, establishing themselves as personal practices for greater wellbeing. 

Your morning routine is your opportunity to set the framework for your entire day. The morning is a magical time to set intentions and initiate motivation and inspiration — your body is refreshed, your mind is ready and you can start your day in charge as opposed to the letting the day be in charge of you. So, I suggest working some (or all, if you’re feeling ambitious!) of these five-minute strategies into your morning routine. (However, if you simply aren’t a morning person and doing some of these in other parts of the day works better for you, then go for it!)

But first, before we move on, I encourage you to examine what it is you are actually seeking as far as health and wellness goes. Go deeper than appearance and desire for a certain figure. As we age, what is it really that we’re seeking? I bet we can all agree that it’s to feel good … to feel our best every day. But you, specifically, may desire more mental clarity. Or to live with passion or purpose. Maybe you want to be more patient as a parent or partner. I’m sure your list goes on. Okay, now that the wheels are turning on that, below, five simple five-minute practices that will send you on a path to developing a healthier and happier mind, body and spirit, whatever your goal. 

1. Wake up and dance: Put on your favorite feel-good jam and start your day with a dance party!

Solo or with your roommates or family, dancing is the perfect playful way to get energized and flood the body with feel-good chemicals. Just a few minutes of fun movement ignites feelings of pure pleasure! Getting your body moving, heart pumping and energy rising sets the tone for how you approach the rest of what your day brings. Chances are you’ll find yourself smiling more and feeling joyful and even passing that attitude on to others, giving them a boost as well. (If you need some help in the playlist department, I’ve made a Start Your Day Playlist for you with some of my go-to pump-up songs. My absolute favorite is “One of Those Days” by Little Big Town.)

2. Embrace breath connection meditation: Simplify meditation by being with your breath!

Meditation has exploded in the mainstream wellness scene in the last couple of years, but I still notice that many people are not integrating this powerful practice into their daily lives because they feel intimidated or challenged by the idea of “meditating.” Perhaps the barrier is that we over-complicate the idea of meditation, which keeps us from even trying it in the first place. I also regularly hear these responses when I ask someone if they meditate: “I can’t sit still,” or “I can’t shut off my brain.”

But here’s the thing: We call these mind-body tools “practices” because they take practice to take effect. Right now your brain works on automatic and your thoughts are happening to you. Your brain has been trained to have certain patterns and respond and react in specific ways to stimuli. This conditioned mind can only change if it is reconditioned. So don’t worry if you feel you can’t do it YET, because we practice meditation for this purpose: to retrain the brain. Just like learning any new skill, it takes time to progress and get more confident and able to meditate!

I’m here to simplify it for you and give you a method to begin successfully incorporating mediation in your life. The practice is basic breath awareness. This means simply sitting in stillness with your breath, with all attention on your inhalations and exhalations. Find a space in your home (and/or office) where you can sit comfortably to close your eyes and take just a few moments to yourself. (What a concept, right?) You may have to tell your family or coworkers that this is your time that you need. Claim it and honor it!

Now the key to breath meditation is to shift the idea that you are breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Instead, start noticing that your inhales can be an expansion in your body, your chest, back and belly. And feel your exhales as a slow release of tension, stress, worry and negativity. Just let it all go through your exhales. If your mind wanders, which it will, just gently guide your attention and awareness back to your breath. You can start by doing this for just one minute a day and as you feel the effects and enjoyment, you’ll soon extend your personal peace time. 

3. Get it out and write it down: Journal to make shifts happen in your life!

Journaling is a processing practice that allows you to personally work through whatever is going on in your head and life. It’s a way to strengthen your relationship with yourself and gain presence in your growth every day. Bonus: Research has shown that when you write goals down, you are significantly more likely to achieve them.

There is no right or wrong here. There are many ways to journal. You can free flow, without thinking and just let out whatever is in your head. You can prompt yourself with questions like: What do I want in my life? What am I passionate about? What am I grateful for? What’s going on in my relationships? The most beautiful thing about journaling is that it is just for you. You don’t need to share it, no one else needs to read it. It is your personal reference for your life journey.

No need to put a time frame on this activity. Just give it a go and see what flows!

4. Do some kettlebell swings: Move to strengthen your core and access your power!

I have devoted my fitness practice and teaching to developing my signature workout, Kettlebell Kundalini, a combination of strength and spiritual training. The kettlebell is a mighty piece of equipment for many reasons. It has an innate, incomparable way of tapping into and engaging the core muscle system through the unique movement patterns it throws the body into. The exercise I praise as the most effective at strengthening the body and increasing energy is the swing.

When exercising, it’s important to focus first and foremost on your form. That means performing the movement correctly so that you aren’t just going through the motions, but instead connecting with the movement and the functional purpose of it. For example, with kettlebell swings, the foundation is a hip hinge, not a knee bend. You’ll know what I mean when you try it yourself (check out this video for proper form guidance). This awareness will change the way you hold your posture during basic activities like driving a car and walking, strengthening your whole self for daily living.

Now go practice! Try for one minute of swings, building up to three times over, with some rest in between. You will not only feel this in all of the sweet spots, like your legs, back and abs, but you’ll also feel it in your heart! Kettlebell moves are the ultimate cardio as they really spike the heart rate. I suggest using lighter weight, like 10 to 15-pound kettlebells. (If you want more than a five-minute kettlebell fix, come join me for a Kettlebell Kundalini class!)

5. Down a superfood smoothie: Nourish your mind and body with powerful nutrients.

Smoothies are an efficient way to give your body a good chunk of the nutrients, vitamins and phytochemical it needs in a 24-hour period. The simple practice of throwing together a nutrient-packed smoothie in the morning will show results not only in mind and body, but overall energy as well.

Here are a few of my tips and tricks to blending up a satisfying mind, body and energy-boosting smoothie:

  • Use a base of either frozen banana or frozen pineapple. Peel your ripe bananas, break them in pieces and freeze them in a container or bag. Same with fresh pineapple (or buy frozen). You won’t even need to add ice.  
  • Make your veggie to fruit ratio 1:2 for flavor purposes. As you get used to drinking smoothies you can play with adding more veggies and just your base fruit.
  • Match your fruit and veggie colors. Pair beets with berries, carrots with oranges and spinach or kale with apple. I’ve found this to make them yummier and much more pleasing to the eye!
  • Add a pitted date or two for sweetness. 
  • Start with one cup of water and add while blending if more is needed.
  • It’s not necessary to stress about measuring quantities. The more you make, the more you’ll get the hang of how much you like of each item. Don’t waste time with measuring cups!
  • Add seeds, like chia, hemp and flax, and nuts, like almonds and cashews, to maximize nutrient density, gifting your body their many health benefits.
  • Throw in fresh herbs and fresh spices. Mint, basil and cilantro are great flavor additions, along with raw fresh turmeric and ginger, which fight inflammation. Just a little bit goes a long way.
  • Prepare for the week by assembling smoothie bags with all of your ingredients and keep them in your freezer ready to blend.

Rachel’s smoothie recipe:
Pieces of frozen banana
Pieces of pineapple
Handful of kale or spinach
Half of a cucumber (if it’s organic, leave the skin on)
Cilantro, basil or mint leaves
Spoonful of seeds

………….

Rachel Rubin, founder of Fitness With Rachel and Rise Gatherings @risegatherings
Rachel Rubin is a transformation coach and progressive leader in the wellness industry. She created her own fitness program, Kettlebell Kundalini, that combines strength training with spiritual practice that empowers individuals from the inside out. She also founded Rise Gatherings, which provides women with a supportive, inspired community and facilitates a platform to learn and grow through retreat experiences. Rachel is also a proud New Balance ambassador. For more tips and inspiration follow Rachel on instagram @fitwithrachel

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