10 Mental Health Activities that Take Less Than 5 Minutes

Apr 18, 2023 3:17:35 PM

Written By:
DaVinci Healthcare Expert

mental heatth activities

People usually associate the phrase "health and wellness" with physical fitness and a balanced diet. However, mental wellbeing is just as important as physical health. In fact, the two are deeply intertwined.

The mind-body connection is a powerful one. Neglecting our mental health can have a significant impact on our physical health—and vice versa.

If you understand the importance of mental health but struggle to incorporate self-care and relaxation into your busy life, you’re not alone. But taking care of our mental and emotional wellness doesn't have to be time-consuming or difficult.  There are many mental health activities that take less than five minutes and can be incorporated into your daily routine.

Read on to explore some of the activities that can help prioritize your mental health and happiness  throughout your day.

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10 Mental Health Activities that Take Five Minutes or Less

1. Deep breathing

As one of the easiest and most effective mental health activities, deep breathing only takes a few minutes to practice and can significantly reduce everyday stress and anxious thoughts. Simply sit or stand in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and inhale through your nose. Hold your breath for a few seconds and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat this process for a few minutes, and you'll feel more relaxed and centered.

2. Gratitude journaling

Taking a few minutes to write down what you're grateful for can help shift your focus away from negative thoughts and feelings. Gratitude journaling involves writing down three things you're thankful for each day. It can be as simple as being grateful for a sunny day or a good cup of coffee. Practicing gratitude can help improve your mood and overall outlook on life.

3. Mindful walking

Going for a walk can be a great way to clear your mind and get some exercise, but adding mindfulness to your walk can make it even more beneficial for your mental health. Focus on your breathing and the sensation of your feet hitting the ground. Paying attention to your surroundings and noticing things you might not normally see can help you feel more present.

4. Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in your body. It can help release tension and reduce daily stress. Start by tensing the muscles in your feet and holding for a few seconds, then release and relax. Move up to your calves, thighs, and so on until you've worked your way up your body. This can be done in just a few minutes and can help you decrease tension overall.

5. Visualization

Visualization involves imagining a peaceful or calming scene in your mind—from a beach to a forest or any other place that makes you feel relaxed. Take a few minutes to close your eyes and picture yourself in this place. Focus on the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Visualization practices can help reduce occasional anxiousness, leaving you more refreshed.

6. Self-compassion

Being kind to yourself can help improve your mental health and reduce everyday stress. Take a few minutes each day to practice self-compassion. This could involve saying kind words to yourself, reminding yourself of your strengths, or simply acknowledging that it's okay to make mistakes. Practicing self-compassion can help you feel more confident and less self-critical.

7. Exercise Break

Exercise has been shown to have a variety of mental health benefits. Regular physical activity has been linked to reduced feelings of occasional stress, anxiousness, and sadness. Exercise can also improve mood and self-esteem by releasing endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Additionally, engaging in exercise can provide a sense of accomplishment, which can boost self-confidence and create a positive feedback loop. Getting the heart rate up has also been found to improve cognitive function in older adults.[1]

If you’re pressed for time, break up your exercise into five to ten minute chunks. For example, walk or jog the stairs in the morning, walk a few laps during your lunch break, do squats while talking on the phone, do lunges while you brush your teeth, or any other type of movement that can be easily worked into your day.

8. Laughter

Laughter is a natural stress reliever that can improve your mood and sense of well-being. Take a few minutes to watch a funny video, read a humorous article, or simply laugh with friends or family to reduce stressors and feel more at ease.

9. Supplements

Supplements shouldn’t be your only go-to for supporting mental health, but certain key micronutrients and amino acids can boost levels of feel-good hormones like serotonin, help to regulate stress hormones, improve sleep, and enhance mood.* Talk with your integrative doctor about the best supplements for your needs, which may include 5-HTP, DL-Phenylalanine, or adrenal support.*

10. Play brain games

Brain games, such as crossword puzzles, are beneficial for mental health in several ways. They challenge the brain, stimulating neural connections and improving cognitive function, memory, and problem-solving skills. Regular practice of brain games can help minimize age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative issues. Additionally, engaging in brain games can improve mood, reduce everyday stress, and increase a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.[2] 


Takeaway: Build New Habits around Mental Well-being

Participating in activities that support mental health and well-being is essential for leading a fulfilling and happy life. These activities are not meant to be done once—they comprise a continuous process that requires a conscious effort to prioritize your mental health.

Whether it's meditation, exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones, these simple practices can provide you with the necessary tools to cope with occasional stress, anxiousness, and feelings of sadness. By taking care of your mental health, you can improve your overall quality of life, increase productivity, and build resilience.

Remember, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity, and it's never too late to start investing in your mental well-being. When you make a commitment to prioritize your mental health, you’ll take small steps every day toward a healthier and happier you.

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[1] Taylor CB, Sallis JF, Needle R. The relation of physical activity and exercise to mental health. Public Health Rep. 1985 Mar-Apr;100(2):195-202. PMID: 3920718; PMCID: PMC1424736.

[2] Al-Thaqib A, Al-Sultan F, Al-Zahrani A, Al-Kahtani F, Al-Regaiey K, Iqbal M, Bashir S. Brain Training Games Enhance Cognitive Function in Healthy Subjects. Med Sci Monit Basic Res. 2018 Apr 20;24:63-69. doi: 10.12659/msmbr.909022. PMID: 29674605; PMCID: PMC5930973.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.