Sometimes it feels a lot like we’re hamsters on a wheel that just keeps spinning around. The constant running is stressful and exhausting.
We need a break. But how do we get one? When we’re stressed, it is hard to resist the temptation to throw money at our problems. It’s hard to resist making bad decisions that affect our wallet and our health like eating or drinking too much.
We all need a little bit of time to refuel. Just like a car needs gas to make it run, we need to refuel our emotional well-being and restore our physical health.
Sound expensive? It sure doesn’t have to be!
How to Reduce Stress on a Budget
1. Get up early if you have to. When you’ve got kids, life is always a bit crazy. But if you wake up just 30 minutes to an hour earlier than everyone else, you’ll find some quiet solitude to drink your coffee, read a book, meditate, listen to music, or exercise.
2. Turn ordinary experiences into major events. When you take a bath, add candles, bubble bath, quiet music and/or an inflatable bath pillow. Your regular bath has now become a spa level experience. If you watch a movie, turn out the lights, pop a bag of microwave popcorn and curl up on the couch. Eat dinner by candlelight while listening to soft classical music.
3. Ask for help. If your to-do list has you feeling overwhelmed, ask for help. Perhaps your partner could cook some meals for a few nights. Or maybe a friend could take the kids for a few hours so you can get a little break. Just remember to return the favor when a friend or family member seems stressed.
4. Use the Boy Scout motto. Always be prepared and you can spend more time in a relaxed mode. I am a list maker. I write down what I need to do and when. I try to work ahead as much as possible. You can do the same thing. Fix lunches the night before. Pick out clothes for the next day and place backpacks by the front door so kids can grab them on their way out. The more you can anticipate and plan ahead, the calmer you will be with your family and not experience burnout.
5. Take exercise breaks. When you get a few minutes the last thing you want to do is exercise but getting a little physical activity in your day can make a big difference. Exercise helps you to think clearly and stretches the muscles. When you release those endorphins, you’ll release some of that stress! Go for a quick walk. Do some yoga while you watch TV. You’ll feel better.
6. Remember to laugh. Keep a funny calendar cube on your desk or subscribe to a daily joke site. Laughing releases stress and can lift your spirits significantly. It also keeps the abs tight.
7. Connect with friends and family. Meet a friend for a cup of coffee or visit a relative you haven’t seen in awhile. Share some laughs with friends and family and you just may come home with a new perspective on your situation.
8. Get some sleep. Even if you do wake up early, you still need to make sure you go to bed at a decent time, too. Set a timer to remind yourself to turn off the television or computer at a certain time each evening. Get at least 8 hours of sleep. If you’re still feeling sleep deprived, squeeze in a quick cat nap. Getting enough sleep will give you the energy you need to tackle your to-do lists. When you’re well-rested you’ll find it’s easier to make decisions and come up with solutions.
9. Channel your tension. When the weight of the world is on your shoulders and it all feels like too much, it can be easy to let stress paralyze. Channel that stress into something positive. Clear out some clutter or scrub the floors. Doing something unrelated to your stress can help you process what you’re feeling. If nothing else, at least your house will be cleaner.
10. Unplug. Shut down your computer and turn off your phone. Don’t check your e-mail or Facebook. Don’t check your work voice mail. Just shut everything off and enjoy the peace and quiet for a day. Being available to everyone and every little thing every second of the day can take its toll. Unplug and and relax without all the distractions.
Remember that all you can do is all you can do. It’s okay to carve out a little bit of time for your mental health. It’s good for your soul and it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Your turn: How do you beat stress?