Good news! Improving your well-being doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort. These quick remedies start easing bothersome health hassles — in minutes!
Walk backward to remember what you forgot.
Blanking on someone’s name? Walk backward three steps. Though it takes just seconds to do, this simple move takes you “backward” in time to when you first learned something, which a study in Cognition found boosts your memory.
Erase tension by humming “America.”
Sure, you’ve heard practicing meditation daily helps stop stress spikes. But what about when you feel tense right now? Hum “America, the Beautiful.” Sounds silly, but Cornell scientists say humming a song for 30 seconds triggers rhythmic vibrations in the inner ear. This encourages your body to produce more calming alpha brain waves, which reduces stress by as much as 48 percent.
If the stressors of a long day are catching up with you, spend five minutes drawing flowers. Creating loops and flourishes distracts you from your worries and gives you an outlet for your emotions, which Drexel University scientists say reduces your output of the stress hormone cortisol.
Speed weight loss with a friendly hug.
You don’t have to work up a sweat to get slimmer! Simply wrap your arms around a loved one or pet before eating. Even brief embraces ramp up the production of the feel-good hormone oxytocin. And Harvard University scientists found that folks who experienced an oxytocin surge before eating consumed about 122 fewer calories and nine fewer grams of fat, plus their body burned fat faster. Dining solo today? Watching a few minutes of a TV show that tugs at your heartstrings will raise oxytocin levels by 47 percent.
Cut up your food.
Slicing up meals into bite sizes before eating isn’t just for kids! Arizona State University scientists say your brain “sees” cut-up food as more filling, sending out satiety signals sooner so you eat less.
Boost energy by snacking on macadamias.
When you feel yourself sinking into an afternoon slump, reach for macadamia nuts. This quick snack is packed with healthy plant oils that help the body soak up energizing blood glucose for fuel, which neurologist Daniel Amen, M.D., says can increase your energy and stamina by 65 percent within minutes.
Try this dynamic duo.
If coffee alone isn’t giving you the boost you need, Canadian scientists say to pair it with a game of Tetris on your phone. Researchers found that folks who played a few minutes of a high-speed video game after drinking a cup of joe felt more energized than those who sipped the same amount of java but skipped the game.
Sleep soundly with earplugs.
If busy days soaking up the last bit of summer make it difficult to sleep, pop in earplugs at bedtime. A study in Critical Care found that doing so helps you snooze 40 percent more deeply and cuts middle-of-the-night awakenings by 65 percent. That’s because earplugs block out noises like rain or the fridge that might jolt you awake, allowing you to sink into a deeper, more restorative slumber.
Let in the breeze.
Before turning in, open your bedroom window for a few minutes. Danish scientists say flushing away indoor air pollutants helps you breathe easy, which improves sleep quality.
Tame aches with a family photo.
When puttering around the yard leaves you with stiff knees or achy muscles, simply take a look at your family photos. A Stanford University study found that catching a glimpse of loved ones reduces discomfort 44 percent more than looking at pictures of acquaintances. That’s because seeing beloved faces boosts the production of the brain chemical dopamine, which buoys your spirits and tamps down pain.
Try a step stretch.
Place the pads of your feet on a step and let your heels drop toward the floor. A British study found this ups flexibility for 90 minutes and creates painkilling endorphins in 30 seconds.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.