Apr 16, 2021 | LIFE | By Kristen Richards | Illustration by Patil Khakhamian

  • Flossing

Advised to me by my good friend Lila, flossing has not only improved the health of my teeth, but also my peace of mind. Flossing is a type two kind of fun. The act of flossing is something I force myself to do because I know it is good for my long-term health.

There is a plethora of fact-based evidence behind why dentists encourage flossing. I’m far more motivated, however, by the wonderfully clean feeling after flossing. I can only describe it as this: it feels like health.

  • Shaking

During J Block this year, I took a class called The Nakedness of Being, taught by a visiting  professor, Eiko Otake. We did movement exercises every class, and one day, Otake helped bring us back into our bodies by shaking. She instructed us to shake for 10 minutes straight.

Alone in my room with my classmates on also on Zoom alone in their rooms, I shook. There was a feeling that everything in my body was moving against itself. I felt alive. I remember laughing to myself because I was so confused why shaking and jumping and moving was making me so immediately happy.  

Shaking is a tool I now utilize when I need to feel at home in my body. Or, in contrast, I shake when my body and mind are telling me they are tired, but I still need them to be awake.

To shake is to move. Sometimes I shake my whole body, and I jump and spin and make myself so dizzy I have to sit down. Other times, the shaking is more discreet. Perhaps it is moving my legs or my toes, my fingers or my hands. The wonderful thing about shaking is that you can make it whatever you want.

  • Stretching (or lying on the floor thinking about stretching)

I’ve found that lying on the floor thinking about stretching actually provides the same benefits as the stretching itself. There is no scientific data for this, though I still believe it. Similar to shaking, stretching is a tool to feel at home and at peace and, more than anything, alive in my body.

There are so many different kinds and different ways of stretching that you are bound to find one that feels right for you. Oftentimes, I am surprised by how much my body thanks me for giving it just a few minutes of stretching a day. After all the places my body takes me, the least I can do for it is lay on the floor and think about stretching.

  • Laughing

Changing your life by laughing is especially useful if you have a collection of funny memes on hand. Pictures, videos, memories, or jokes can work for this as well. There are certain things that I can look at and immediately start laughing — this is the content that is great to have on a day when laughing could make life just a little bit brighter.

Laughing reminds me that there is always time for happiness. Regardless of how busy life gets, there is room to laugh and there is time to do the things that make you feel alive.

Flossing, shaking, stretching, and laughing are not the only things that are bound to change your life in five minutes, but they are a good start. When instituted into a routine — five minutes a day, for example — they may begin to help life feel more vibrant and alive.

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