Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Other, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

20 – 2-minute activities to relieve stress

LENTEN REFLECTIONS #31

I took this picture after I walked with my kids to the bus stop this morning. The trail our feet imprinted was a snapshot of each of us. One set of footprints was my daughter’s, straight and defined, mine seemingly magnetized to each child and my son’s looping around, making his own way to the same destination. The walk took less than two minutes. Two tiny minutes to solidify their after-school plans, gush over the Dogwood blossoms and tell my kids I loved them.

Two minutes.

The walk reminded me of yet another article I read in the Orthodontists office (three kids in braces). The author discussed how sometimes the little tasks in life have the potential to overwhelm our day and push big jobs further into the peripheral. These mental to-do lists can clutter our minds and impose unnecessary stress, so why not just take time to do them?

I wanted to rip out the article and pin it on my shirt like a grade school reminder for picture day. Instead, I thought better of it and simply retained what I could for sharing.

So to remember what I gained from it, I developed a mantra :

Take two minutes to accomplish tiny tasks AND savor meaningful moments.

2-Minute TINY TASKS:

When I see a job that can be completed quickly but requires more inclination than sweat equity, I count through it, literally. Here’s what I mean: I count out loud and time how long the job REALLY takes. One morning, I opened my unorganized bathroom drawer and got that annoyed vibe where instead of just cleaning it out, I want to remodel the entire bathroom. NOW.

After talking myself off the Home Depot ledge, I started my count. 120 seconds later, I had thrown out old lotions, random rubberbands I pulled from my hair when I couldn’t find a hair tie and old make up I swear I’m going to use, but realize it’s easier to look in the mirror without my glasses on than to start using makeup.

After the short 2 minutes, I felt great and the next time I opened the drawer, I felt the cathartic joy I experience when something is done. Ever count through emptying the dishwasher? 2 minutes. Making your bed, 2 minutes or less. It’s the little things we can do NOW rather than later that help make the big picture things like studying for a test, or cleaning the garage or tackling paperwork more doable.

2-Minute MEANINGFUL MOMENTS:

Now those two minutes can also bring immediate joy, like walking with your kids to the bus, snuggling with your partner or petting your dog. In those instances, the tiny two minutes IS meaningful and memorable. A WIN, WIN.

So in an effort to tackle the tiny tasks and embrace the moments that count, I’ve researched and crafted my top 20 things you can accomplish in just 2 minutes.

  1. Floss and brush. Your teeth will thank you at your next checkup.
  2. After washing your hands, wipe off the sink and mirror. Almost clean is sometimes close enough.
  3. Turn on music and dance with your spouse or kids. The natural boost of dopamine will inject your mood with joy.
  4. Put leashes on your dogs. Then go for a walk. Sometimes the 2 minutes it takes to put the leashes on the dogs seem so laborious. They’ll love you for it.
  5. Empty the trash and recycling. Then reline the trash cans. Pull in the bins for the curb also if it’s trash day. Done!
  6. Clean out your purse or backpack. Throw away receipts, tissues, and (if you’re like me) take out the 9 Sharpies. You just need two in a Sharpie emergency…one to give away and one to keep. Wipe bag with a damp cloth.
  7. Shake out all the carpets in your car. You can use a scraper or your hand to help the dirt off. Ahhh…a semi-clean car.
  8. Go through the mail you’ve piled up. Recycle the junk, file the rest.
  9. Clean out the garbage disposal. Combine one part baking soda and two parts vinegar, pour in the disposal, let sit for 30 seconds, add a handful of ice and run the disposal.
  10. Clean out the microwave. Since the vinegar is out, fill a mug with 1/4  cup of vinegar and the rest with water. Heat for 1 minute and let sit for 45 seconds, wipe the oven clean.
  11. Play 52 pick up with your kids. Who cares how old they are? Flip the cards up and let them fly. Pick up quickly and maybe you’ll have time for another game!
  12. Give one of your children a piggyback ride. Here you might care about age and size. If you’re my size, ask your kids to give you a piggyback ride instead. Good luck.
  13. Sweep the front steps. Make the entrance of your home look welcoming and happy.
  14. Untangle all of your charger and other device cords and plug in your phone. It will relieve the stress later.
  15. Declutter your email. Unsubscribe to as many unwanted emails as you can in two minutes!
  16. Check texts and voice mail. Make sure you’ve responded to calls and texts.
  17. Pay your bills online. You’ll be surprised how quickly this can be done.
  18. Comb through your credit card bill. Make sure all charges are legitimate.
  19. Sit down and relax for two minutes. Listen to your breathing. Close your eyes.
  20. Ask your children to tell you the best and worst parts of their day. I like to use open-ended questions in the hopes of having more than a one-minute conversation with them after school. Although frequently their response will still be “GOOD”. I think it’s just the teenage script they read from. If the stars are aligned, it could lead to a great conversation.

Take two minutes. To do the little things. Whether they are weighty and mundane or fulfilling and memorable. You will experience delight in knowing you accomplished them.

My two-minute walk to the bus stop and perhaps over-analysis of the footsteps in the grass brought me a day of joy knowing our kids will ultimately go the way their hearts lead them and always know their way home. 

Life is fleeting, find joy in it even if it is two minutes at a time.

Spiritual Workout – my thought for today:

I wish I could push a bobby pin through the little hole in life’s doorknob, shove the door open and reveal all the answers we are so desperate for.

Workout: Get outside today and walk or run – oh! take those dogs with you.

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