Institute of Mental Health 5, Nov 06

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Life getting to you? Take a walk. It could literally save your life.

I’ve said this before, but now I have even more scientific proof that a few minutes outside can change your perspective.

According to a study reported on, just five minutes outside can dramatically improve your mental health. Jules Pretty and Jo Barten, co-authors of the study, found that whether gardening, walking or cycling can lift your mood in no time.

Another thing: how you start your day makes all the difference in the world (I recently told Health magazine this). So if you tend to leap out of bed in a panic, you may wish to consider a different alarm clock. I usually awaken with the sun (which can be problematic in the wintertime here in Germany ~ it typically gets light out around 8:30 in the morning and the kids, well, they have to catch the bus at 6:45). But there are sun simulating alarm clocks that slowly guide you to consciousness. If your alarm clock jangles your nerves before you’re even vertical, it might be worth a try.

Yoga is another great way to find mental balance. A few stretches and poses can help you find your inner warrior when the going gets tough.

And let’s not forget tree-hugging, my personal favorite. If you’ve got one near by, give it some love. You may find yourself a lot more grounded afterwards ~ in just five minutes.



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The power of slow is just as much about energy management as it is about your personal relationship with time. The more energy you conserve the more you have for other things. The same thing goes for your time.

One simple power of slow technique you can start doing is drip-drying your clothes. I know it sounds radical, but apart from a few years in the U.S., I have never owned a dryer. I made it through babyhood with both kids without one.

Consider the statistics. According to the Department of Energy, 5.8% of all residential energy consumption comes from your clothes dryer alone. What if you were to put your clothes dryer on hiatus during the warmer summer months? I bet you’d not only save on your energy bill, you might also feel better, too. It’s great exercise and very meditative to hang the wash outside. As with any mindful activity, it requires a bit of foresight. You can’t have a clean pair of pants within an hour’s time so if you want to wear something specific, you do have to build in the drying time. But air drying wash is a great exercise in establishing a positive relationship with time itself as you begin to see what it takes to move from point A to point B in a mindful fashion.

You may not have a plot outdoors to hang your things, but you can reduce your dryer usage dramatically by cutting back on just one load a week while drying some select things on your rack in the bathroom or balcony.

Life isn’t all about convenience and ‘gotta-have-it-yesterday’. Besides’ yesterday’s gone. All we have is now.

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