How much can we accomplish in ten minutes? Perhaps we can answer a few emails, or load the dishwasher, but could it really be enough time to do something to help ourselves in the long-run? In The Transformative Power of Ten Minutes, author Beth Kurland says that spending ten minutes a day on practices that reduce stress and cultivate well-being can actually transform your life.
Based on cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, positive psychology and acceptance and commitment therapy, Kurland’s approach is about showing readers that by cultivating their inner resources, they can learn to cope better with difficult circumstances and become more resilient. Ten minutes a day is enough, she says, because small practices done consistently yield longterm benefits. Kurland’s guide offers short exercises to be completed daily in addition to an audio component and worksheets. Each chapter highlights a specific skill and why it matters before moving into a writing exercise, affirmation and summary of the key takeaways.
First, Kurland helps readers identify behaviors that may need to change. This approach is not to condemn anyone, but to recognize that we all have patterns that are ultimately not helpful. Before we can make changes, we must “own” our unhealthy habits. According to Kurland, some of our habitual patterns come from our fight or flight response; something which has helped us survive as a species, but that causes problems for modern humans who stay perpetually stuck in this mode. The process of change begins with identifying such patterns.
Kurland shows readers how to develop a roadmap for the direction they’d like to go in. She emphasizes the importance of becoming mindful, learning to stay anchored in the current moment, identifying the pitfalls of negative thinking and understanding the ways in which we can easily be pulled into a downward spiral.
Kurland also offers exercises to help readers embrace difficult emotions, rather than getting swept away by them. Once readers are able to recognize some of the forces of negativity that carry them away from what matters most, they are better equipped to move toward their values. In the last section of the book, Kurland offers a guide to creating a personal wellness plan that readers can use moving forward.
The overall goal of Kurland’s book is to help readers bring awareness to the current moment, and to change the neural pathways of the brain over time so that they respond differently to the tough stuff. The premise is that practicing new skills can help us get unstuck, but without practice, change is less likely. Simply reading a book, for example, is not enough to change habitual behaviors or thought processes.
I really appreciate how practical this book is. Each of the chapters focuses on a specific component of how we deal with stress, and has practical exercises to apply what is learned so it becomes skills-based rather than just intellectual knowledge. Kurland also offers case studies which illustrate how clients have utilized some of her tips, as well as the outcomes. The key summary points at the end of each chapter are helpful as well; they reinforce the major takeaways.
This is a self-help book, not a theoretical or clinical manual intended for mental health treatment. Readers will benefit from identifying behaviors and thoughts that are not beneficial, and will learn how to make positive changes to reduce stress. Though it isn’t designed as a manual, it could still be a good resource for counselors or life coaches who want to help clients develop stress management skills. The ten minutes a day requirement makes it more appealing to clients who do not like “homework.”
The Transformative Power of Ten Minutes: An Eight Week Guide to Reducing Stress and Cultivating Well-Being
WellBridge Books, 2017
Paperback, 256 pages