25 Five-Minute Tasks That Will Make You Healthier and Happier Today

Though it makes me cringe to say it, one of my biggest personal weaknesses is my tendency to overcommit. As much as I believe in the freedom that comes with saying no more often, it’s hard not to take on too much. If you’re a recovering people-pleaser like me, then you know the struggle. When an interesting or fun opportunity comes along, the temptation is often too great. But with the new year underway—and to find more happiness in simplicity—I brainstormed a list of five-minute tasks that will make you feel better instantly. Without any of the post-commitment guilt.

Because for “yes” women like myself, January can be an especially tough time. The blank slate of a new year provides endless opportunities for personal projects. (Of course we can get fit, throw more dinner parties, volunteer every week, be more present with our kids, and take a photography class all this month!).

25 Five-Minute Tasks That’ll Help You Feel Better Instantly

If like me, you’ve made similar mistakes in years past and are wondering how to feel better, this post is for you. PSA: Positive life changes are often the result of small, daily habits.

Keep scrolling for the easy tasks that’ll make you healthier and happier today. (All in five minutes or less!) Because in 2024, I’m looking for quick ways to add a dose of health into every day.

Embrace a Healthier No-Cook Breakfast

We all know that a healthy breakfast is super important, but, let’s face it, mornings are usually when we’re most time-starved. Instead of grabbing a packaged granola bar, add a couple of no-cook “assembled” breakfasts to your repertoire, like these delicious overnight oats, an upgraded avocado toast, and your new go-to smoothies.

Plan Your Outfit the Night Before

Decision fatigue is bound to strike at a moment’s notice. Be proactive and get as much prep done the evening before. Take a few minutes to put together an outfit you love. Take into account your schedule the next day and what will feel best. That way, all that’s left to do in the morning is get dressed and go.

Text a Friend

I love sending a quick text to a friend or loved one simply to let them know I’m thinking of them. When they open the message, they’ll be grateful for the thoughtfulness. It’s a low-effort way to brighten someone else’s day and strengthen your bond.

Smoothies.

Add a Handful of Spinach to Your Smoothie

Y’all know we’re big fans of a breakfast smoothie around here. There’s no quicker way to get your greens on than by throwing a handful of raw or frozen spinach into the blender along with the other ingredients. And if you’re not a huge spinach fan, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how the green taste just kind of disappears behind the sweeter fruit.

Take Your Vitamins

Of course, eating whole, nutritionally-packed foods is priority number one, but even the healthiest eaters among us could use a boost from time to time. I’m a believer in popping a whole-food multivitamin, a high-quality probiotic, and a magnesium supplement daily. They help me cover all the bases and are a great complement to a well-rounded diet.

Get Rolling

I’ve started using a foam roller for five minutes every night before bed to relieve tension that’s built up in my body throughout the day. I’ve already noticed a huge difference in how much more relaxed I feel when I crawl under the covers. Here are six ways to get started with one now.

Walking on under-desk pad.

Work Out at Your Desk

Especially for those of us who sit for long periods at work, squeezing in a few stretches throughout the day is key to feeling energized. Pick up one of the trendy under-desk treadmills you’ve seen all over social media. Or, double up your exercise with some quality time outdoors. Hot girl walks are still holding strong for a reason!

Spice Things Up

Many delicious spices have surprising health benefits. Adding a sprinkle to your dishes is a quick way to infuse them with flavor and nutrition. I add half a teaspoon of cinnamon to my oatmeal and coffee, which has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, and adding turmeric to a stir-fry or chili packs it with additional antioxidants.

Take a Five-Minute Breath Break

Only in the last couple of months since I started meditating have I fully appreciated the benefits of breathing. It may sound simple, but taking a five-minute break in the middle of the day to close your eyes and focus on your breath is a total game changer. It’s a quick practice that will improve your mood, reduce stress, and focus your energy where you need it to be.

Herbal tea.

Sip Herbal Tea

Savoring a cup of herbal tea at the end of the day is an instant de-stressor and can even help quell those sugar cravings that tend to strike an hour after dinner. I always sip a cup of Yogi Bedtime tea while I read in bed which usually helps me drift off faster. If you want to learn more about the amazing world of herbs, read this.

Keep a Water Bottle Within Arm’s Reach

For me, water falls into the “out of sight, out of mind category,” so I do my best to keep a bottle filled with filtered water on my desk or in my car at all times. On days when I stay hydrated throughout the day, I feel more focused and awake. This is my current fave.

Do a Random Act of Kindness

Because even the smallest acts of support can help someone feel seen. Get inspired with our favorite ways to spread a little cheer and love.

Replace Scrolling With Reading

Picking up a book can be just as easy as picking up your phone. Make it a habit of getting a few pages in rather than mindlessly scrolling your feeds. Have a goal of reading more this year? Every five minutes counts.

Set Your Phone to Night Shift Mode

You’ve probably heard that the blue light of our electronics is really disruptive to sleep, since it disrupts melatonin production and tricks your brain into thinking that it’s daytime. Enter: Night Shift mode. If you’re not already acquainted with this nifty little iPhone and iPad setting, get ready to have your mind blown. If it’s activated, every night when Night Shift mode kicks on, your phone automatically adjusts its display to give off a warmer light that isn’t as disruptive to sleep as the typical blue light. Here’s how to enable it. (I have mine set to the From Sunset to Sunrise schedule.)

Get more game-changing tips to help you get a good night’s sleep!

Make a List

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that it’s impossible to move onto your next task? When that happens, I take a brief pause and turn to a blank notebook page to jot down everything that’s on my mind. List out all the stressors and to-do’s that are taking up space. Suddenly, with everything on paper, it becomes easier to plow through your tasks.

Wash Veggies Right When You Get Home From the Grocery Store

It only takes a few minutes to rinse and dry veggies right when you get home from the store, but it can be transformative during the week when you need produce in a hurry. I wrap lettuce in paper towels so it’s ready for salads, and store sturdy veggies like carrots and celery in glass containers with lids in the fridge where I can see them. When I’m craving a snack, I’m way more likely to reach for the veggies and hummus. Here are other time-saving grocery store habits I try to adopt.

Pack Your Lunch

Yes, you CAN pack a healthy and delicious lunch in less time than you can pick up something from the fast-food window. My go-to weekday salad is usually veggies that I prepped when I got home from the store, leftover cooked chicken or boiled egg or avocado, something crunchy like nuts or seeds, and a homemade dressing that I made for dinner over the weekend. If you’re looking for more salad inspo, try my take on this viral recipe.

Stretch While You Watch TV

Stretching is one of those things that often gets pushed to the bottom of our priority lists, but it makes a huge difference in how your body feels. If you have time to Netflix, you have time to stretch. I make it a habit to dedicate the first five minutes while I’m watching any show to getting down on the floor and running through a few stretches. Bonus: They help me sleep better, too.

Send That Email

You know the one—it’s the message that’s been plaguing your inbox for days (okay, sometimes weeks) that you keep putting off. Oftentimes, when it comes to things we procrastinate on, actually getting it done tends to be easier than we think. Open it up, start typing, and hit send. Now didn’t that feel amazing?

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Taking a few minutes to write down what you’re thankful for has been shown to lower stress levels, encourage better sleep, and boost happiness. In other words, major bang for the five minutes it takes. The key is to just start doing it regularly so that it becomes a habit. I keep a notebook and pen on my nightstand, and every evening I jot down a few things that I’m grateful for that day. Don’t worry about good handwriting or complete sentences—the simple act of writing will naturally encourage reflection.

Not sure where to start? These are our favorite guided journals. You can also try these journal prompts to inspire even more reflection.

Practice Positive Affirmations

I get it—saying things like I attract abundance or I am worthy of love and acceptance can seem awkward the first time you do it. But like gratitude journaling, the more you practice positive affirmations, not only do they flow with more ease, but you start to believe them—and embody their truths. Write down 3-5 affirmations that you’ll say to yourself in the mirror every morning or evening. Trust me, it’s a transformative practice.

Apply (and Reapply) SPF

It’s a life-saving practice—and one that takes less than a minute. Slather on the best sunscreen for your skin. And if you really don’t have the time, prioritize your face.

Make Your Bed in the Morning

I love learning what keeps successful women energized and inspired throughout the day. So naturally, I asked my favorite ladies to share their secrets (read ’em here!). My top takeaway? Make your bed every single morning as most of them do. The simple task gives you an instant sense of accomplishment and helps you feel like you can take on whatever the day throws at you. Plus, starting with that one good habit creates a domino effect. The feel-good vibes from tackling it will motivate you not to skip out on other positive tasks.

Ice Roll Your Face

If you’re like me, you wake up only to look in the mirror at an inevitably puffy face. C’est la vie. And while it may be inevitable, there are easy ways to get instantly snatched. Enter: ice rolling. Not only does the practice feel seriously good and energizing, but it helps boost circulation and promotes lymphatic drainage. Snag our favorite ice roller and lean into the power of cold therapy.

Make Your Water Even Healthier

And taste better. We all know the struggle when it comes to meeting our daily hydration quota. Make it a little easier (and give your H20 even more bang for your wellness buck) with these 10 natural ways to supercharge your water. Dehydration is so 2023.

8 Easy Ingredient Swaps That Will Make Your Holiday Meals Healthier

Ready or not, the holidays are here. But as with any reliable friend, we come bearing the goods: gift inspo, a festive charcuterie board, and tins of decadent cookies. You’re welcome. With twinkling lights above—and comfort foods at the ready—this time of year glows unlike any other. Eating well on the other hand? It takes a backseat. The mouth-watering aroma of freshly baked pies and rich, creamy casseroles is hard to beat. In turn, we feel torn between two worlds: indulge until the couch calls or only scoop a dainty piece. Fortunately, there’s a middle ground: healthy holiday ingredient swaps.

Rest assured, there’s no need to forego festive treats. Sugar and indulgent dishes deserve a seat at the table. Rather, we want to inspire creative ingredient substitutions. Enjoy your favorite holiday dishes and feel nourished. With that, grab your mixing bowl. We’re unveiling the perfect ratio of celebration to well-being.

Featured image by Suruchi Avasthi.

Break Free From Holiday Food Guilt

“I shouldn’t have eaten that….” “Why did I have a third helping….” “I need to do X minutes of cardio tomorrow…” Sound familiar? Before your write yourself as someone who won’t ever have a positive relationship with food, hear us out: you can break free from holiday food guilt. To start, jot down your food fears. Anything you deem off-limits. Include food rules that dictate your daily life. Once you acknowledge them, you challenge them—with the help of a supportive family member, friend, or therapist. From there, you can re-build your inner wisdom. Sayonara, food guilt.

See here for additional intuitive eating tips.

Diet and Lifestyle Tips for a Nourishing Holiday Season

With that in mind, healthy holidays aren’t about deprivation or strict rules. They’re about balance and fluidity. Most importantly, they’re about enjoying the season in a way that aligns with your well-being goals. So, how can you keep your wellness goals in check while you’re out of your typical routine?

Diet

Eat mindfully. During holiday meals, truly savor each bite (notice flavors, textures, and colors), eat slowly, and pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.

Aim for balanced meals. Build a plate to include lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. This aids in satiation and satisfaction.

Be aware of portion sizes. Especially when faced with large holiday spreads, use smaller plates. This will help you eat mindfully (see above!) and pace yourself.

Make smart swaps. Opt for healthier ingredient swaps in your holiday recipes. More on this, below.

Lifestyle

Stay active. Continue to prioritize physical activity. Schedule regular workouts or engage in fun, active holiday traditions (backyard football, nature walks, etc.).

Manage stress. We all know the holidays are stressful. Carve out a few minutes every day for journaling, guided breathing exercises, or a calming meditation.

Get adequate sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Sufficient sleep can boost your immune system and help you make better food choices!

Plan and prioritize. Said differently: don’t overcommit. Do your best to set boundaries and prioritize events that truly matter to you. Embrace the spirit of togetherness in a way that aligns with your mental health.

How to Create a Healthier Cheese Board

Calling all charcuterie lovers: this one’s for you. Creating a healthier holiday cheese board doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor or variety. By making a few smart swaps, you can enjoy a delicious assortment of cheeses, accompaniments, and pairings. Below are a few ideas for nutrient-dense swaps for your favorite cheese board.

1. Whole-grain or seedy crackers

Instead of refined white flour crackers, opt for 100% whole-grain or seed-based crackers. These alternatives provide more fiber and satisfaction.

2. Fresh fruit

Replace candied fruit with fresh fruit, like apples, pears, or blackberries. They’ll complement the cheese while adding vitamins and fiber. Bonus points using low-glycemic fruits to help lower blood sugar.

3. Greek yogurt dip

Instead of a creamy spread, serve a tangy Greek yogurt-based dip. For extra flavor, season it with herbs, garlic, or lemon zest. Plus, your guests will get the benefit of protein and probiotics. Hummus is great as well!

4. Nuts and seeds

Add a mix of nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.) to your cheese board. They provide healthy fats and protein, satiation, and texture.

5. Pickled vegetables

Include a variety of pickled veggies—gherkins, olives, or pickled onions—to add a zesty, tangy element to your board.

6. Lean protein

For a protein boost, consider adding lean protein sources (lean turkey, smoked tofu, or roast chicken). These are a satisfying addition for for a more substantial cheese board.

7. Herb-infused olive oil

For dipping bread and drizzling over cheese, swap a rich dip for a selection of herb-infused olive oils.

8 Nutritionist-Approved Healthy Holiday Ingredient Swaps

This goes without saying, but indulgent gatherings will happen (or be hosted!) at some point during the holiday. Embrace them. Remember, there’s endless gratitude for the opportunity to eat with loved ones—particularly over a decadent, homemade meal. But in the spirit of finding a happy middle ground, consider the following healthy holiday ingredient swaps. Hopefully your guests will appreciate these substitutions, too.

Greek Yogurt for Sour Cream

Substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream is a double-whammy: a range of health benefits without sacrificing flavor or texture. Greek yogurt is notably lower in saturated fat and calories, making it a heart-healthy alternative. It’s also rich in protein (great for satiation) and probiotics (helpful for overall digestion). The creamy, tangy consistency of Greek yogurt complements various dishes—from mashed potatoes and cheesecake to dips, dressings, and casseroles.

Squash for Potatoes

All hail the mighty winter squash. Make your holiday season delicious and delightfully nutritious. Swap out potatoes for squashes. These vibrant and versatile veggies offer a lower-carb alternative to spuds—a smart choice for blood sugar-conscious feasters. Packed with vitamins and antioxidants, they can boost immunity and encourage radiant skin. Plus, their natural sweetness means you can cut back on added sugars. Whether you’re roasting, blending, or mashing, give squashes a starring role.

Veggie Noodles for Pasta

Speaking of squash, sub some of your noodle-packed dishes with spiralized zucchini, sweet potatoes, or carrots. Packed with essential vitamins and fiber, they keep energy high and digestion on track. Not in the mood for a 1:1 veggie to pasta swap? Try a legume-based noodle, like red lentil or chickpea pasta. Even 100% whole wheat noodles are a high-fiber, high(er)-protein alternative. For inspo: substitute butternut squash noodles for egg noodles in chicken soup or use zucchini as the pasta layer in lasagna.

Coconut Milk for Heavy Cream

Substitute heavy cream for creamy and dreamy coconut cream! This tropical delight brings a luscious texture to your dishes and heart-healthy satiation. Coconut cream is a dairy-free alternative that’s lower in saturated fats. Plus, it adds a subtle sweetness to recipes, enhancing both savory and sweet dishes. Try it in mashed potatoes for a velvety finish, whip up a vegetarian soup with a dollop of coconut cream, or relish this filling coconut curry.

Avocado for Butter

Yes, you can sub avocado for butter in many recipes. A heart-healthy substitute for butter or lard, avocado provides a creamy texture while reducing unhealthy saturated fats. Avocado is also loaded with essential nutrients—potassium, folate, and vitamins. Whether you’re making cookies, muffins, or even creamy mashed potatoes, avocado adds a nutrient-packed twist to your holiday favorites. Try your hand at this chocolate avocado mousse or avocado key lime pie! Otherwise, replace half the oil in your favorite dips and spreads with avocado.

Baked Fruit Crumbles for Pie

The holidays aren’t complete with pie, but baked fruit crumbles come as a close second. Unlike pies, crumbles boast a lighter, nutty topping that’s lower in saturated fats and sugar. Plus, they’re a cinch to prepare, saving you time in the kitchen during the busy holiday season. Whether it’s a warm apple crumble or juicy berry medley, these fruity creations satisfy a sweet tooth. For an even easier option? Baked apples. Add your favorite crushed nuts, a few warming spices (cinnamon, cloves, etc.), a bit of coconut oil, and et voilà—a nourishing dessert without added sugar.

Alternative Flour for Refined White Flour

Alternative flours—like almond flour, cassava flour, and coconut flour—are wonderful swaps in your holiday bakes. They provide more satiation, can reduce bloating, and for most, are easier to digest! They’re also more blood sugar-friendly than traditional, refined wheat flour. Plus, they’re rich in fiber and healthy fats. Other options include buckwheat flour (gluten-free) and oat flour. These flour swaps not only offer a diverse range of nutrients, but they enhance the flavor and texture of your baked goods.

Monk Fruit Sweetener for Refined Sugar

Sweeten your holiday season—the blood sugar-friendly way—by swapping out refined sugar for monk fruit sweetener! This zero-calorie, plant-based alternative is a game-changer. It satisfies sweet cravings without the blood sugar rollercoaster. Plus, it’s kind to your teeth. Whether you’re baking cookies, pies, or cakes, monk fruit seamlessly replaces sugar. No need to compromise on flavor or texture. Let your baked goods shine with 1:1 sugar replacement.

Healthier “Girl Dinner” Ideas—A Nourishing Twist on the No-Cook Trend

Girl Dinner has entered the chat. IYKYK: it’s a medley of stray ingredients with snack vibes. Leave it to the ‘Tok to turn a low-effort meal into a trending phenomenon. A trend that—like most—comes with plenty of critiques. According to Gen Z, this solo supper has a cult following, and ‘girl dinner’ is blessed with its own hashtag. Ironically, the concept of charcuterie board-ish bites is far from revolutionary. A mealtime snack plate is centuries old. With satisfaction in mind, we’re taking our own spin on this style of eating. Scroll for simple, no-cook grazing menus—aka, humble healthy girl dinners.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

What is a #GirlDinner?

A girl dinner is essentially a plate of small bites—a smörgåsbord of ingredients. It requires minimal effort and equally minimal prep. Think: an adult lunchable. It’s a grazing board of your favorite nibbles: a few pieces of cheese, crackers, veg, and hummus. A freezer waffle slathered in peanut butter with a glass of wine in hand. A bag of popcorn and a lone rotisserie chicken. You get the gist. In many ways, anything goes. In the best (and most random way) possible, a girl dinner is an unsophisticated charcuterie board. Your cravings—and pantry findings—take the reigns.

Image by Michelle Nash

Are girl dinners healthy?

As with every viral trend, there’s controversy—and girl dinners are no exception. In theory, it’s innocent: throw together an assortment of whatever ingredients sound good. And according to Olivia Maher, the woman behind this popular concept, girl dinners should do just that: hone in on what you want. So in theory, they can absolutely be healthy.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the not-so-subtle hinting that young women should default to dainty, snacky meals. In turn, this reinforces gender stereotypes and, potentially, toxic diet culture. All of that to say, so long as you’re cobbling together enough balanced, wholesome ingredients to satiate you, girl dinners pass with flying colors.

Image by Michelle Nash

How often should you eat a girl dinner?

There’s no quota. But your intention matters. Say it’s the end of a long day and you want something low-effort. In that case, go for it. Compiling your favorite foods—and kicking your feet up on the couch—is a luxury worth relishing. It’s also a creative opportunity to reduce waste.

That said, if you’re meticulously mimicking low-calorie dinners you see online, it’s a slippery slope. Sparse plates can point to restrictive, comparative tendencies. Not the goal. Additionally, the point isn’t to prioritize ultra-processed foods. When in doubt, use moderation as your model.

Bread and Cheese: A Perfect Girl Dinner Pairing

Skim #GirlDinner on TikTok, and you’ll likely notice some form of grains and dairy (or dairy substitute). No surprise, as this combo is delicious. This popular pairing is a tale of two ancient foods—enjoyed separately and together for millennia. In fact, travelers, soldiers, and laborers often relied on bread and cheese, thanks to its portability and sustenance. Today, it’s evolved into a vast array of bread types and cheese varieties. Toss your favorites on a serving board and et voilà, you have a girl dinner.

Image by Michelle Nash

How to Make a Healthy Girl Dinner

As women, we’ve long been programmed to view food as the enemy (been there, experienced that). But at its core, girl dinners celebrate the simple pleasure of grazing for a meal. Just make sure you’re tailoring your small plate to two things: your own nutritional needs and your hunger level. If you decide to hop on the trend, consider the following guidelines—they’ll help you stay fuller, longer while keeping blood sugar in check.

Protein

Aim for 4-6 ounces of high-quality protein (poultry, eggs, cottage cheese, grass-fed red meat, sustainable seafood, etc.) or 1/2-1 cup of non-GMO soy, beans, or legumes. This is roughly a fist’s size of protein.

Starchy Carbs

A serving of starchy carbs (roasted potatoes, rice, crackers, bread, pasta, etc.). This is roughly 1/4-1/3 of your plate.

Fiber-Rich Veggies

About half your plate should be filled with colorful, fiber-rich produce—fruits and veggies like leafy greens, eggplant, tomatoes, and berries.

Healthy Fats

Last but not least, for hormone health, vitamin absorption, and satisfaction, don’t forget a serving or two of healthy fats: cheese, avocado, olives, nuts, etc.

Image by Michelle Nash

Healthy Girl Dinner Ideas

With the aforementioned guidelines, let’s get more specific with your healthy girl dinner:

  • Protein: hard-boiled eggs (meal prep these in advance!), no-sugar-added beef jerky, deli turkey, rotisserie chicken, smoked salmon, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, raw cheddar cheese, roasted edamame, smoked tofu, etc.
  • Starchy carbs: toasted sourdough, pita bread, seedy crackers, corn tortilla chips, whole-wheat tortilla, rice, whole grain noodles, beans, potatoes, beets, banana, apple, etc.
  • High-fiber veggies: cherry tomatoes, cucumber, baby bell peppers, celery, marinated artichokes, snap peas, small side salad, etc.
  • Healthy fat: guacamole, nut butter, tahini, hummus, olives, full-fat cheese, etc.

Simple Recipes for Your Next Girl Dinner

To get your creative gears turning, these are a few no-fuss, minimal-prep recipes that totally pass for healthy girl dinners. Enjoy!

Tuna and Avocado Niçoise Toast

No need to labor through an entire Niçoise salad. Instead, whip up these mouthwatering, protein-packed toasts. They’re rich in flavor and texture.

Bruschetta and Tomatoes

This is a solid no-recipe recipe for a simple dinner or lunch. To make this extra girl dinner-friendly, sub the roasted tomatoes for jarred sundried tomatoes. Chef’s kiss.

Smoked Salmon Toast

One more flavorful toast to add to your repertoire! Tangy mustard meets thinly sliced veg, smoked salmon, and fresh herbs. Hot tip: keep a loaf of sliced bakery bread in your freezer. When the restaurant-worthy toast craving strikes, you’re covered.

Breakfast Grazing Board

Spoon out a generous portion of Greek yogurt, chop up any fruit you have on hand, add granola for crunch, and sprinkle on a few seeds. Breakfast for dinner is served.

Work Day Breakfast Board

A simpler version of the breakfast board above, this throw-together meal has a little bit of everything: cheese, veg, fruit, hard-boiled eggs, and nuts. It’s the epitome of a healthy girl dinner.

Simple Potato Salad

If you’ve done the leg work to meal prep your potatoes ahead of time, this girl dinner has it all—protein, carbs, and fat. Boil a couple of eggs, toss them with your pre-cooked potatoes, and your girl dinner just got a delicious upgrade.

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

When it comes to this recipe, here are a few girl dinner tips: opt for pre-roasted and packaged beets (sold in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores) and use a bag of roasted chickpeas to save time. Otherwise, this plate of goodness comes together in minutes.