17 Ways To Feel Happier + Calmer When You Only Have 10 Minutes

There are lots of ways to feel happier right now - even if you're busy or broke or kind of overwhelmed. Don't 'save' happiness for later! Read on for happiness tips, ideas for self-care, and ways to feel calmer, even when you're busy.#behappier #howtobehappier #howtofeelhappier #happierthanever #waystobehappier #tipstobehappier #happybooks #waystomakeyourselfhappier #howtobehappy #happinessactivities #happinesshabits #happinessmindsetI have a weird, type-A tendency to put off doing things I know make me happy. I know I’ll feel sooooo much better if I get out of the house but putting on real clothes and walking to the coffee shop IS SO MUCH WORK.

Sure, I could read a chapter of my favorite book or I could do another load of laundry! Yes, I know exploring new cities makes me happy but I have tons of work to do, it’s rush hour, and wouldn’t my time be ‘better spent’ optimizing old blog posts?

Don't 'save' happiness for when things are easier and calmer (because they might never be) Share on X

I’m calling shenanigans on myself and on you, fellow ‘I’m too busy to experience calm and happiness’ types. To help us get past this B.S., I’ve assembled this list.

Ways to feel happier + calmer when you only have 10 minutes

1. Take your shoes off; put your bare feet in the grass or dirt or a body of water

Doesn’t it feel good to connect with the earth? To remember that you’re just one sweet little animal among millions? To take your toes out of those cute, crampy, pointy-toed shoes and spread and stretch and wiggle them around?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

2. Take a walk around the block; leave your phone at home

Fresh air makes everything better. Sun on your skin makes everything better. Seeing the changing leaves and your neighbors dog probably doesn’t hurt anything, either.

3. Text or email a friend and share a funny memory

I used my birthday as an excuse to make my friends share memories with me, but there’s no reason I couldn’t be the one who gets things started.

It’s as easy as scrolling through your contacts list in your phone and typing “Remember that time we got stopped at the Canadian border because of my cat-shaped self-defense key chain? And you got all New York and sassy with the border guards?”


4. Look through a drawer or closet and remove five things you don’t love and don’t use

Throw them away, put them in the recycling bin, or put them in a bag to go to Goodwill. Ahhhhh! Don’t you feel calmer and clearer already? If this gets you all excited about decluttering, you might like this post on how to purge your closet without hating everything.

5. Have a one-person dance party

Is this advice a bit trite? Yes. Is it something I pretty regularly do? Also yes. My current solo dance party songs are Cheap Thrills, Shut Up And Dance, Waka Waka. Yes, I love terrible pop music.

If you’re a self-conscious dancer or you doubt the transformative power of a good bass drop, I encourage you to check out the thrilling and weep-inducing documentary Alive Inside about music, identity, and health.

And then cry a lot and then turn on your favorite music and dance around.

6. Stretch

If you’re feeling ambitious, put on a 10-minute YouTube yoga video; I like this one. But if you can’t do yoga in your jeans and you don’t have access to a yoga mat, just try to touch your toes! Helicopter your arms around! Do all those stretches you remember from 8th grade gym class. Any stretching is better than no stretching.

7. Find and eat the most delicious, lovely snack available

Let’s say, just hypothetically, you’ve let your fridge and pantry situation reach a dire, tumble weed state. Not that this happens to me twice a month or anything.

I could eat half a granola bar while standing in front of my fridge or I could slice up an apple, put it on a lovely plate, add a dollop of peanut butter and shake the last of those black sesame seeds over the whole thing. Happiness on a plate.

If you’re at work, could you buy the best thing from the vending machine, pour it into a bowl and eat it somewhere other than your desk? If you’re at school, could you buy the biggest, most gorgeous cookie and eat it sitting on the grass?

We don’t always have the option of making our food Instagram-worthy, but we can usually do better than to eating standing up, out of the bag, while scrolling through our phones.

8. Tune into each of your five senses

Do you live in your head with a near-constant hum of to-do lists running in the background? Me too! Remembering that my body is more than a brain-holder is constant struggle, but tuning into my senses helps.

Push yourself away from your work and simply ask:
What am I seeing? What colors and shapes?
What am I smelling?
What can I feel – with my hands and my body? What textures?
What can I hear? Where are those noises coming from?
What can I taste?

It seems simple and a bit kindergarten-y but it’s incredibly centering and calming.

9. Make yourself a cup of coffee/tea/cocktail and journal

Just the act of stepping away from work and preparing a tiny bit of sustenance is immediately calming. After you’ve poured yourself something wonderful, put pen to paper for a few minutes. Not quite sure what to journal about? I like these basic journalling prompts.

10. Watch a music video from your high school days

Marvel at what passed for fashion in those days and lyrics that seemed shocking but would be totally passe now. Remember the songs you slow danced to, sang along to, rolled your eyes at, memorized.

This was the soundtrack to my high school life. UGH SO GOOD.

11. Cuddle with your pet or human

Touch has been shown to strengthen immune system, lessen anxiety, and even lower blood pressure. Cajole your cat or dog into snuggling. Ask your sweetheart for a good, loooooong hug or kiss.

If you live with roommates or a close friend, ask them if they’d like to swap shoulder or foot rubs.

12. Make yourself look cuter

I feel approximately 1000% times happier when I’m wearing mascara and Real Pants. My husband’s mood drastically improves with a fresh shave. If my hair is in anything other than a messy top knot, I’m pretty much unstoppable.

And it’s not just me! It’s been scientifically proven that what we wear affects how we feel. If you’re having a crisis of self-esteem, here are 14 ways to get over it!

ways to feel happier clear your computer

13. Clear your computer’s cache, delete apps from your phone, and uninstall programs from your computer

Doesn’t that feel good? Now everything runs faster, loads quicker, and you feel less guilty about that Fitness Pal app you haven’t used in a month. Or is that just me?

If you’re not sure which programs you can remove from your computer, this post will help!

14. Give someone a compliment

Last year, I challenged myself to compliment a stranger every day for a month. I’m not someone who’s particularly inclined to start conversations with people I don’t know (#Scandinavian) but it was truly one of the best things I did all year.

It’s lovely when someone tells you that you have great hair, or you handled a tough situation well, or you’re Julia Robert’s voice twin! Who doesn’t want to hear that? NOBODY. The bonus, of course, is that you feel great when you make other people feel great.

If you’re at work and it feels weird to stalk into the break room and tell Sherry From Accounting that her new haircut is on point, send your compliment via email to a friend or coworker. Here’s how to give a truly great compliment!

15. Put your legs up the wall

Oooooh, this is glorious – particularly if you’ve been on your feet all day. It relieves tired leg muscles, gives you the benefits of inversion without any of that pesky handstand business, and calms your central nervous system. And all you have to do is lay down and put your legs up the wall!

16. Apply lotion in a non-hurried manner

I usually slap on lotion in a fast and furious manner, probably scowling at my elbows and cuticles as I do so. What if we sloooooowed down and spent three minutes applying it instead of 15 seconds?

What if it was a moment for a tiny bit of self-massage and appreciating the texture and scent of your lotion and feeling the muscles under our skin?

As a side note, if you spend all day typing, this is a great way to take care of your joints and wrists! I like this three-minute hand massage video.

17. Just breathe deeply

Yes, it’s obvious. Yes, we should all do it more. In a best case scenario, we’re outside, in a quiet, lovely space, and our eyes are closed. But even if we’re just closing the door to the bedroom so the noise of the pets and tv are just sliiiiightly quieter two minutes of deep breathing can make a world of difference.

Do you ever feel like you’re ‘too busy’ to be happy or calm? Do you feel like the things that make you happy are kind of a hassle? What’s your go-to calming or happy-ing technique?

P.S. Did you know I have a (free) private Facebook group dedicated solely to the topics of money and happiness? And the stuff we talk about has helped members change jobs, save thousands of dollars, and fight less with their partners? Join us!

Photo by James Newcombe on Unsplash

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  1. kim domingue

    Okay, I’m on board with pretty much everything but the sesame seeds on my peanut butter and apple snack….which I’m eating as I type this while taking a 15 minute break from purging, lol!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      So many high fives!

  2. LC Arthur

    Ugh, Yes, yes and yes! Too busy to do the one thing that could keep me from melting down at 3:30. I will go have my cup of coffee away from my computer now. 🙂 -Thanks for the reminder!

    One more thing, solo dance parties are my jam or I turn up the music and belt out a song! It is an instant pick me up!

  3. Sarah Von Bargen

    Yes! Why do we do that to ourselves? So many of us have a habit of turning down self-care just when we should be turning it up!

  4. Monique

    Love this! #5, I have those songs on my iTunes, time to start dancing! 😀

    #17, as a freelance graphic designer, I’m sitting A LOT. Need that energy release, and the acupuncturist I go to reminds me to take the time to just breathe deeply too, he adds to it by saying 1) 3 times a day do 10 deep breathes slowly, 2) In through the nose, out through the mouth, 3) On the exhale make a “ha” sound. A good energy release! I’ll also jog in place for 10mins, trying to balance sitting at the computer with movement, like you’ve mentioned in the list above too. Doing some movement has done wonders for me during the work day.

    Thanks for this post!

  5. Alison Rothman

    Great post, Sarah! I just read this while shoving something resembling a dinner into my mouth, preparing food for my son, tending to his calls from upstairs, folding laundry and simultaneously organizing myself to leave town tomorrow to teach a retreat! I had to laugh! I also happened to leave the house today in “real” clothes, coupled with platform sandals to give me a little lift and mascara…I still had the bun on top of my head but I felt like a rock star!!

    Thanks for the reminders and inspiration!

  6. Kylie

    Thank you for doing your thing Sarah! The world is a better place for having you in it 🙂 Now I’m going to watch Alive Inside (with a box of tissues – I cried in the trailer!)

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      It’s a weeper! <3

  7. Danielle

    Ugh, you got me. I’m an all or nothing type of person so in my mind, if I can’t spend an hour on self-care, then it’s totally useless (I KNOW THIS IS FALSE).

    So these 10 minute pick-me-ups are really great to challenge me! Just yesterday I spent over a minute lotioning my legs. It was awesome. Also, thanks for making me cry watching that trailer! I’m not sure if I could handle the whole movie </3

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      It’s a doozy, right?

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