In late June, 2020, the US Center for Disease Control reported a sharp increase in the number of people struggling with their mental health. Stress and substance abuse were the top issues mentioned; and much of the distress is tied to the pandemic and its financial, emotional, and social consequences.
Making matters worse, uncertainty with employment has people feeling that they need to tighten their belts on spending for the time-being. While the usual way to blow off steam for many would be to go to the bar with friends, play a round of golf, or go shopping, these options are now impractical. Indoor establishments are closed or have restrictions on their patrons, and unnecessary spending seems foolish.
The following list is not exhaustive by any means, but it will hopefully provide some inspiration for ways you can get a handle on your stress without breaking the bank.
1. Quit Smoking
This may seem counterintuitive, but you will find yourself feeling better emotionally once you get past the hard part. When you smoke, anxiety-inducing withdrawal starts almost immediately after you put your cigarette out.
If you are already trying to quit and struggling, Black Buffalo’s smokeless tobacco alternative may help you put down the cigarettes. It is free of tobacco, but still delivers medical-grade nicotine to help cut out the withdrawal.
2. Consider CBD
CBD is Federally legal and won’t give you the same intoxicating feeling that marijuana creates. Many people swear by CBD to help their pain and inflammation, reduce anxiety, and improve their sleep. The best CBD gummies for sleep will help you get the rest you need in order to tackle even the most stressful days.
Brands like Evn CBD offer high-quality hemp-derived CBD in a variety of forms to meet your needs whatever they are. Some people like to take CBD orally for mental and physical benefits, but others like to massage CBD topicals into their skin for a relaxing spa-like feeling.
3. Get Outside
We may be getting into the part of the year where spending much time outside is uncomfortable or even dangerous in many regions of the world. However, spending just 10 minutes outside can reduce stress and help you feel better. And it’s free!
4. Get Your Heart Pumping
A little cardio can go a long way for your state-of-mind. Try running in place, jumping rope, or doing some burpees to get your blood flowing. This is another activity where you will start to see the benefits after just 10 minutes.
If the idea of meditation sounds intimidating, start small. You don’t have to be an instant guru. Try a square breathing technique for an easy beginner’s exercise. All you have to do is breathe in for a count of four, hold it for a count of four, breathe out for a count of four, and hold it for four. You can work on increasing your repetitions or the length of time for each segment. Whatever feels good for you.
6. Do Yoga
Speaking of what feels good for you, Yoga With Adriene is an accessible and free YouTube channel that will have you feeling like a Yogi in no time. Adriene Mishler’s friendly and accepting personality comes through in her style, and you can find videos to uplift your mood no matter what your physical level is.
7. Take a Hot Shower or Bath
The only money you have to spend here is paying for your water bill. And maybe some sweet bubble bath. You can also easily make an inexpensive, luxurious bath soak with epsom salt and any essential oils you have on hand.
Turn on your favorite tunes and have a dance party! The movement will get your heart pumping, and listening to great music gives your brain a shot of dopamine.
9. Belt Out A Show Tune
Okay, so maybe you’re not a big fan of musicals, but find a song that serves as an anthem for you. Turn it on loud, take a deep breath, and sing along joyously. Singing will improve your mood through increasing oxygen and dopamine levels. And besides, how can you not smile while singing “Let it Go” from Frozen?
Cooking is a grounding activity for many. Whether you love to bake souffles or fire up some stir-fry, creating a nutritious (or at least delicious) dish relieves stress on several levels. It gives you something to focus on in the moment, you get a shot of dopamine as you enjoy the flavor of your creation, and the nutrition will sustain you through another day.
11. Practice Gratitude
While finding things you are grateful for can be a challenge in a moment of high stress, it can give you something positive to concentrate on rather than stewing in whatever it is that has your heart racing and your jaw tensing. Take a minute to think of three things that are positive in your life, no matter how small, and you may find yourself smiling by the time you’re finished.
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