Stress can be deadly. It can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and all sorts of serious illnesses. It can exacerbate everything from eczema to cancer. And it can zap all the fun out of your life.
Whether you’re stressed out by your health, your job, your family, or any of the other numerous stressors out there, it’s important to take good care of yourself. Learning how to cope with your stress won’t just improve the quality of your life; it might save it. Even if you can’t afford a spa day or a vacation to a tropical paradise, you can still de-stress like a pro. Here are a few creative ideas that are free or cheap.
- Take a stay-cation in your own city. Visit a site like Trip Advisor to find out where the best restaurants and attractions are. Take the kids to that roller rink or planetarium you didn’t know existed.
- Build a blanket fort in your living room and spend the day in it doing something fun. Make flashlight puppets. Read comics or regular books. Snuggle with a loved one or pet.
- Take a long bath with a book and a cool drink. Optional: light candles, slather on a cheap face mask, and play a calming CD.
- Make a cup of tea and watch the rain. Keep teabags at work so you can enjoy this activity even if you’re stuck late in the office.
- Find a relaxing podcast to quell your road rage, especially if your commute involves a lot of traffic. Try something from NPR or, if you’re a fan of H.P. Lovecraft or Stephen King, Welcome to Night Vale.
- Make a playlist or mix CD of music that makes you feel good. Make a second copy for someone you care about.
- Eat and exercise regularly. Stand up for your right to stand up at work! Don’t be afraid to do squats in your cubicle or munch a snack.
- Make an emergency box for your darkest moments. Include whatever helps you feel better: chocolate, a favorite movie, a bottle of wine, gift cards for pizza (or anything else), family photos, new nail polish, new socks, etc.
- Call a friend or spend time with family. Avoid people who are toxic or make you feel worse about yourself.
- Plan a vacation, even if you can’t go on one. Most people get more joy out of planning a trip than actually going on one. Plus, you won’t have to deal with lost luggage!
- See more of the world through your computer screen using fun websites like MapCrunch and The Secret Door.
- Lie outside on a nice night and watch the stars. Optional: hot cocoa or another drink of your choice.
- Go Geocaching in your neighborhood. If you have a smartphone, there are plenty of free apps to replace a GPS. If you don’t have a smartphone, recruit an adventurous friend to join you.
- Get enough sleep. If you have trouble staying asleep, consider getting a noise machine that sounds like rain or the ocean.