Practical ways to live better on less.
We all experience numerous stressful situations on a daily basis. Finding ways to manage these unpleasant events will lead to a healthier life. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to de-stress for free! We all need to learn to take time for ourselves every day, no matter how busy our schedule.
It’s important to block out me-time each day, away from the stresses of work, family life, and financial situations.Remember that taking breaks actually increases your productivity. While you may think you are wasting time, you are actually going back to work more refreshed, more positive, and with a clearer mind.
Here are 25 relaxing ways to combat stress (for free!)
1. Exercise – One of the major benefits of exercise, besides weight loss and a reduced risk of diseases, is the ability to combat stress. Walking, jogging or any other type of cardio work can reduce your anxiety. Exercise increases happy endorphins and reduces levels of stress hormone cortisol. So get moving every day – the benefits come with a regular routine!
2. Practice yoga – A regular yoga routine not only tones your body, but also gives you time to de-stress. Focusing on deep breathing and different balancing movements requires you to focus on the task at hand, allowing yourself to take your mind off daily problems. I do yoga every day no matter how much I have to do and I always feel better after completing a session. My favorite program is Total Body Workout Restorative Yoga.
3. Meditate – Just 10-15 minutes a day of meditation will allow you to recover from the tension of the day. Daily meditation will help you to achieve a state of inner calm, possibly solving some of the stresses of the day. Search for guided meditation online if you are a beginner wondering where to start. I usually combine my yoga with meditation, ending my session with a peaceful ten minutes or so in Shavasana pose.
4. Listen to music – Believe it or not – music actually has many therapeutic benefits. Light, classical or spa type music can help reduce stress hormones and give you a better outlook. I always listen to Zen/Spa music while I am working. This music provides a soothing escape.Take time out everyday to listen to some relaxing music, or at least put in on in the background.
5. Take a hot bath – Taking a warm bath is one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to relieve stress. As an added bonus, the warm water will help to ease joint and muscle pain. Taking a bath before bedtime will help you sleep better. I also recommend adding a few essentials oils for enhanced relaxation. I recommend making a homemade face mask and reading a book!
6. Read a good book – A really engaging book is hard to put down. Being absorbed in the story will allow your mind to drift away from negative thoughts, things on your to do list, and everyday problems.
7. Play on old fashioned board game – Not on the computer! These days we are all too absorbed in various forms of media – computers, cell phones, TV, etc. Take some time away from all these electronics and get out an old fashioned board game. This is a great way to give your eyes a break from the computer screens.
8. Take plenty of coffee and tea breaks – Find somewhere nice to sit and get away from you computer/desk. It is important to have your breaks away from your workspace to fully appreciate your time off. Separate your workspace from your breakspace, so your breaks feel like time off the clock. Hot drinks allow you to relax and take your mind off the day. I love white tea, green tea, roobios, and dark roast coffee.
9. Give yourself a massage – Or if you are lucky enough, find someone willing to give you a massage. Give your significant other a massage and vice versa so you can both reap the relaxing benefits. Focus on the areas which hold the most tension – your shoulders, back, and neck. Spending a bit of time loosening up these areas should relieve some tension.
10. Don’t over schedule – It is okay to say no sometimes. Don’t be afraid to tell someone no if you can’t do something. Also, do not try to cram too much work into one day. Rushing will only make you more stressed and less productive.
11. Eat healthy – The foods you eat can actually influence your mind, as well as your health. Cut out foods high in sugar and limit caffeine and alcohol. Too much caffeine and sugar cause you to crash, leaving you more tired and stressed out than before. Stick with a healthier plant based diet.
12. Learn a new recipe – There are plenty of free recipes available online. Cooking gives you a chance to take care of both your body and mind. Spending the day inventing a new recipe will keep your mind active on things other than work and daily tasks.
13. Treat yourself to a home spa day – You don’t have to spend money at a fancy spa. Give yourself your own peaceful beauty day at home – experiment with your own facial masks, paint your own nails, make your own hair treatment, etc. This will give you much needed me-time without giving your hard earned money to someone else.
14. Take a break and breathe – Deep breathing, like the type used while practicing yoga, works wonders at stopping stress before it starts. Take a break wherever you are and focus by taking a few breaths. Often when we are stressed, we forget to stop and breathe. One of the simplest ways to reduce stress, unfortunately we often forget that we need to calm down and just breathe.
15. Stay organized – Organization is the key to keeping your stress levels down. I make a lot of to-do lists to keep myself from freaking out. Instead of worrying all night, make a list before bed of things to do tomorrow. And don’t worry if you do not get everything done in one day! Keeping your home and workspace organized leads to less tension.
16. Avoid people that stress you out – One of the biggest ways to lower your stress level is by not surrounding yourself with stressful people. Being around other people who are stressed/in a bad mood all the time is more likely to rub off on you. Surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook whose attitude is likely to rub off on yourself.
17. Turn off your cell phone – I turn off my phone completely at least one day a week (usually Sundays). This gives me the chance to totally focus on myself without any interruptions.
18. Watch your favorite movie – We all have your favorite feel good movies which brighten our outlook and relieve stress no matter the situation. Curl up on the couch, turn off your phone, grab a hot relaxing drink, and enjoy the show!
19. Practice simple facial exercises – It sounds silly, however, certain facial exercises can actually relieve stress. I figured this out after doing my Total Body Workout yoga videos. I am sure there are plenty of free facial exercises you can find online as well.
20. Make time for your hobbies – Don’t neglect your hobbies and interests. Spending time on things you enjoy doing (outside of work) will take some stress out of your life. Do you really want to spend your entire life just working and never pursuing any of your side interests?
21. Get crafty – Nothing is more calming to me than starting a new craft project. You can get tons of ideas for home design on Pinterest. Taking a craft break with a cup of tea is ultimate relaxation to me.
22. Make time for your friends – Don’t get too busy and caught up in life that you forget about your friends. Plan a few get togethers each year – enhancing your social life and spending time with people outside of your family and work is good for you.
23. Use heat wraps – You can soothe your muscles by applying heat to your neck and shoulders. This technique will also ease your mind. Soak a small towel in boiling water and place it on your shoulders. This does the trick for me, especially when I don’t have the time for a full bath.
24. Don’t compare yourself to others – An easy way to take some stress out of your life! The less you pine after what other have (annoying Facebook status updates), the less you will stress over what you don’t possess!
25. Find out the root cause – Take time to actually think about what stresses you out each day. Find out the situations, people, tasks, etc. that stress you out most and find out how you can change/modify these situations. After-all, the best way to cut out stress is by fixing the actual source, not just covering it up!
What are your favorite stress busters? Feel free to share your best tips for getting rid of stress!