Many people feel overwhelmed by stress, especially when life gets busy. A lot of relaxing activities and getaways, such as a day at the spa or a weekend vacation, have a hefty price tag attached. That may put them beyond your budget. Fortunately, you don't have to spend a lot of money to release a little pressure. There are many low-cost ways to set your mind at ease. Take some time to try these simple strategies to relieve stress and worries.
You might think that meditation requires you to "clear your mind" of all thoughts and worries. But that isn't always the case. In many popular forms of meditation, you direct your mental energies in a specific manner. For example, you might focus on a single sound, word, or phrase called a "mantra," by repeating it over and over while you meditate. Popular mantras include the sounds "om" or "so-ham." If your mind wanders while you’re meditating, simply take a moment to notice the thoughts that have distracted you, before returning to your mantra.
If mantra meditation sounds too tricky, you might find simple breathing exercises easier. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus your attention on your breath. Attempt to slow your breathing by taking in long deep breaths and exhaling them slowly.
Stress can increase your heart rate and leave your mind racing. By focusing on longer, slower breaths or meditative mantras, you may be able to slow your heart rate and feel more at ease.
Many people find emotional release through physical activity. Engaging your body occupies your mind and distracts you from to-do lists and frustrating situations for a while. Exercise also reduces your body’s production of cortisol, a stress hormone. It triggers your body’s production of feel-good chemicals, called endorphins.
When you're stressed and busy, exercise might be the last thing you feel like doing. But a good workout can help lift your mood and sharpen your mind. Schedule time to hit the gym or get active outdoors. An aerobics class, yoga stretch, or brisk walk around the block might be just what you need to let off some steam.
Take a walk
While vigorous walking can be a great form of exercise, even a slow stroll can help center your mind. Physically removing yourself from a stressful situation by taking a walk may help clear your mind and create a sense of distance from your worries. You may also find the natural scenery that many walking trails provide calming.
The next time you feel stressed or anxious, consider visiting a neighborhood park, local garden, or nearby hiking trail. If you only have time for a quick stroll, take a moment to walk around your own block. Sometimes, a breath of fresh air is all you need.
Play a game
Even when your schedule seems tight, it’s important to take time out with your family or friends. Playing a fun game together may help you feel less stressed. Simple card games, such as Crazy Eights, may be just challenging enough to keep you interested, without igniting too much competition. Slow-paced but thoughtful board games, such as Scrabble, may also help distract your mind from other stressors. Active games, such as Frisbee golf, combine the mind-easing powers of play and exercise.
Multiplayer games also offer the benefit of social time. One of the best ways to boost your mood is to surround yourself with people you love.
Escape into a book
There's a reason J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and Suzanne Collins are best-selling authors — their books create entire worlds for readers to escape to. No matter what type of story you enjoy, almost everyone can find at least one writer who inspires their imagination.
If you don't consider yourself a reader, take a trip to your local library to ask a librarian for advice. They often have reading lists with a wide variety of book suggestions, including thrillers, romance, drama, comedy, memoirs, and books from other genres. If you don’t like novels or poetry, nonfiction books may appeal. If you prefer pictures to words, graphic novels or comic books may be more your style. If you don't have time to read, an audiobook may fit into your schedule. Audiobooks allow you to listen to stories while you take care of other tasks, such as making dinner or running errands in your car.
Make relaxation a priority
Stress can leave you feeling tired, anxious, and weary. Over time, it can negatively impact your mental and physical health.
You may not be able to eliminate stress from your life entirely, but you can take steps to relieve it. You don't need to spend a small fortune to start feeling better. Simply taking time out for an easy and relaxing activity may make a world of difference to your mood. Over time, you may find that your stress doesn't feel so overwhelming. This may help you face the next challenge that comes your way.