I get stressed out at least once a week. Some days, our internet goes out, there’s a leak in the roof, I get a flat tire — and that was just a Monday. Not to mention the little global pandemic we’re living through. Sometimes I need to find ways to de-stress.
Despite the fact 89 percent of Americans understand that self-care can reduce stress, 30 percent of us feel guilty for spending any time at all focusing on decreasing their own stress, according to a recent survey by Birchbox. But de-stressing doesn’t need to make you feel guilty.
When things get stressful, my instinct is to go online shopping or buy a bottle of wine. But these coping methods aren’t healthy — for my wallet or for me. Thankfully, there are tried and true ways to de-stress without stressing my bank account — some are even free! And though they won’t replace my flat tire, they will make getting to Friday a little easier.
Deep breaths in and out. Meditation is the simplest way to decompress, and you can do it from anywhere. Though it can be scary to start, if you don’t know what you’re doing, there are online videos and guides that can help you get started. There are also free apps, like Calm, Headspace, and Smiling Mind that can get you to relax and meditate.
All you need to do is close your eyes, clear your mind, and sit still for a little while.
You’ll feel a world of difference when you get up.
If sitting still and relaxing is difficult for you, get moving! Exercising has been associated with decreased rates of depression, according to a Science Direct study, and has even been found to trigger positive emotions. That also explains why people hate running while they’re doing it, but feel great afterward.
Purging your things is therapeutic. In the end, not only will your house be less cluttered, but you will feel better, too, when you can walk around your living room without stubbing your toe on things you may not need.
You can donate anything you no longer need to your favorite charity or thrift shop, or you can sell them through a marketplace like Facebook. So not only is this a free way to de-stress your life, but you might even earn money while doing it! Either way, there’s a lot to feel good about when you get rid of your junk.
4. Take a Hot Bath
I always forget how much I like a hot bath until I’m sitting in it. It’s like a warm hug.
And baths aren’t just good for the soul. The heat has healthy effects on your body and brain.
Bathing can reduce pain, stress, and even fatigue, while also improving general health and wellness, according to a study by the ONSEN Medical Science Research Center.
So whether you’re a lady or a dude who’s embraced mampering, you can turn on the faucet and immediately improve your day.
5. Listen to Music
If you’re going to be in the bath for a while, you might as well crank some tunes. Music has proven to reduce stress, increase well-being, and increase positive emotional responses, according to a study published in by Public Library of Service ONE. So next time you see someone jamming in their car, turn up the volume, de-stress a bit, and have a little street-light dance party.
6. Try Essential Oils
Lavender and rose are the best essential oils to reduce stress. Some popular direct-sales companies with local distributors will gladly give a free sample or two for you to try. Airomystic offers free samples, and they'll even pay the shipping.
7. Take a Screen Fast
Sometimes Facebook and email can be the root causes of your stress. It lets you see how much fun your friends had without you and shows you when your mom tags you in an embarrassing post.
To make matters worse, screen time can cause an increase in anxiety and depression, according to a study published in the BMC Public Health Journal, so it is important to remember to turn off your phone every once in a while. Put your devices in another room and walk away. A few hours walking around a park will make you relax far more than Facebook and Twitter ever have.
8. Give Yourself a Spa Day
Grab that cucumber from the fridge and put on your robe for a spa day — brought to you by free samples.
9. Drink Green Tea
While I think using food and drink as a way to de-stress is counterproductive, as it can eventually become unhealthy (and expensive!), green tea gets a pass on that front.
Green tea has health and relaxation benefits that enable it to be less like a drink and more of a super food for happy thoughts.
In fact, drinking green tea causes a 26 percent decrease in the risk of death from heart attacks, according to a study by Harvard University. So not only could it help you relax, but it can also help you stay healthy!
10. Pucker Up
That’s right — kissing is good for your health! Physical intimacy reduces the stress hormone cortisol and increases endorphins, making you less stressed, according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine.
I assume that’s why new couples are so annoyingly happy. If we can learn something from them, it’s to pucker up for less stress. But of course, make sure it’s someone in your social bubble!
11. Watch Cat Videos
OK, it doesn’t have to be cats — any funny videos will do, as long as you’re laughing. Watching funny videos always helps me de-stress, and I usually forget what I was annoyed with before I pressed play. You can even watch them on Swagbucks to earn some extra money. Win-win!
12. Make Something
Art therapy is used in hospitals to help trauma victims heal emotionally, and it can also be used to help you recover from stressful situations.
Using the creative part of your brain is a chance to give your overthinking, analytical brain a break.
You can draw, create sculptures, or even just make a house of cards. Anything that gets you creating can also help you relax. You can even avoid worrying about holiday stress, because you’ll get all your DIY presents out of the way early!
If the thought of arts-and-crafts stresses you out before you even see a pair of scissors, it may be best to start with coloring. It can be a simple way to take your mind off of your stresses, without having to add new stresses at the thought of making the next Mona Lisa.
PopSugar has compiled a list of free coloring pages for adults that will get your creative juices flowing and your mind winding down.
The Bottom Line
It doesn’t matter which of these options you choose, as long as you can de-stress without having to spend your life’s savings doing it. So make sure to take a moment to relax every once in a while. Whether you choose to take a hot bath, exercise, or watch some cat videos, just remember that Friday is only a few days away.