Five Ways to Get Happy in 20 Minutes or Less

Woman with Purse.jpeg

Aka The Lunch Break Mood-Boost

I often use my lunch break to check items off my to-do list - drop off the dry cleaning, pick up the last few items on my grocery list or return that dress that just didn't work once I got it home. I'm running around like crazy trying to get to the end of my list and to what end? There's always room on that list for more items and it has a tendency to reset every single week (but I thought I did the laundry last week!?!?)

I want to start using that time to add a dose of happiness to my day instead of racing to finish some imaginary checklist. You too? Here are five ideas for doing just that in 20 minutes or less.

1. Meditate for 20 minutes - there have been a slew of recent studies touting the benefits of meditation. It seems we have the power to alter our brain structure with just 20-minutes a day. If you can't fit that in before work, find a place on your lunch break (hint: sitting in your car works) where you can pause, be quiet and breath. It's okay if thoughts pop in and out of your head, just do your best to be quiet and let go.

2. Go for a 20-minute walk - that's all it takes for all kinds of good things to start happening in your body. Your energy levels rise, you start to offset all that nasty sitting most of us do every day and check out this image of what's going on in your brain after a short walk.

3. Write a gratitude list - you've heard it before, happiness doesn't come from getting what you want, it comes from wanting what you already have. Take time to write a list of all the things you're grateful for and you may just be able to shift your attention to the positive.

4. Phone a friend - I'm an introvert at heart and if I'm being completely honest, I hate talking on the phone. At least I hate the idea of it. Once I'm actually on the phone asking someone how their day is going (read: not thinking about myself), it feels good and I'm always glad I picked up the phone.

5. Bring Back Nap Time - Seriously. A girlfriend of mine used to keep a pillow in her car so she could catch a few Zzzs on her lunch break. When all else fails, and these other tactics are no match for your exhausted state, I say why not? Again, 20 minutes seems to be the magic number here. Any longer and you risk feeling more groggy than when you started out.