It’s the small, everyday things that make a difference and contribute to a happier, more fulfilled life. Writers from The Book of YOU have chosen some of their favourite micro-actions that you can easily put into practice for a sunnier, more contented you.
Mid-January is for many a difficult time of the year. Holidays are over, the resolve to stick to your New Year’s resolution may be fading, for us in the Northern hemisphere the days are cold, short and dark and the promise of spring is still far away (we’re from Finland, so trust us – we know this too well).
Our approach to this is a method that comes recommended by psychologists treating seasonal depression, health and happiness experts, and a growing body of research: small behavioral interventions. We call these micro-actions – small, concrete actions you can incorporate into any day.
We’ve seen micro-actions bring more health and happiness into our own lives working in a fast-paced industries and the techie start-up scene, and we’ve seen it work for tens of thousands of people all over the world who do micro-actions with the help of YOU-app and the recently published Book of YOU.
Here are our team’s seven favourite micro-actions to boost your January:
- TAKE TECH-FREE TIME “I worked many years in banking and management consulting, industries notorious for working days that never really end. After a while I became really tired and stressed and one of the changes I ended up making was to take dedicated tech-free time. I now attend to my emails only a few times per day. I’ve turned off all notifications and alerts. And I consciously put away my phone during meal times and when I’m spending quality time with someone.” –Nora, COO & CFO of YOU
- BOOK IN QUALITY TIME “For me this micro-action is not only making sure I take enough time for myself to do something I like, but also paying attention and being grateful for it. It’s sometimes so easy to end up just idling mindlessly and not really enjoying my free time.” –Aleksi, CTO of YOU
- 5-MINUTE MORNING MEDITATION “Up until very recently I had always failed my resolution of starting a daily meditation practice. Why? I didn’t schedule time for it and thought I needed to reserve at least 20 minutes to feel any difference. A month ago I changed my strategy and started a 5-minute morning meditation project. Now that I’ve made it concrete (every morning after brushing my teeth) and micro (committing to 5 minutes only), for the first time I’ve been able to truly keep doing it! It feels amazing. I often end up going “overtime” because I am off to a good start!” –Nelli, CEO of YOU
- EAT AT THE TABLE “I’m currently pregnant and hence have lots more cravings. What’s helping me is the resolve to eat all my food at the table. I put all my food (including snacks, which I have scheduled for the morning and afternoon) on a plate, sit down to eat and focus fully on the food. That way I’m not mindlessly eating out of a box or on the road. Not only do I end up eating less, but my mind also gets more well-deserved breathing breaks” –Nora, COO & CFO of YOU
- DO A 2-MINUTE MICRO-WORKOUT “I used to obsess over getting enough gym-time each week, and if I didn’t have at least 45-minutes, I felt it just wasn’t worth it. Not surprisingly, when life got busy (as it tends to) my exercise plummeted. With the 2-minute rule there are no excuses – I can always find 2 minutes for squats, planking, burpees, hand stands, you name it. And doing a 2-minute plank is definitely better than no planking at all so it always pays off!” – Nelli, CEO of YOU
- EXPLORE THE NEIGHBOURHOOD “This micro-action is about walking mindfully and maybe taking an extra detour on your way to work, home or for errands. It’s surprising how much there is to see even in places we visit every day! Breaking routines and noticing new things is a great stress reliever and it’s also an easy way to get a bit of extra movement done!” –Aleksi, CTO of YOU
- REARRANGE YOUR APPS “This is a simple action that may completely revolutionize how much time you spend on your smartphone. We tend to do the things that are easy, so make things a bit harder for yourself. Re-arrange the apps on your phone by moving all your time-wasting apps (we’re talking social media, games, entertainment) away from the first page and into specific folders at the back. You’ll use them a lot less, you’ll notice!” –Nora, COO & CFO
Whatever you choose to do – remember, the point is to make the micro-actions small enough – so small you can always succeed in them. Pick one, scale it to fit your life and get started. Good luck!
The Book of YOU (Penguin) by Nora Rosendahl, Nelli Lähteenmäki and Aleksi Hoffman is available now.