North American life is go-go-go and it’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget about taking care of yourself. Stress has short term effects like interfering with the function of the immune system. Stress has many deleterious long term effects (yes, much like consuming pesticides if eating non-organic) that can cause serious havoc on your health. Some effects of long term stress include cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, depression and anxiety (Mayo Clinic).
De-stressing is important to incorporate in your day-to-day life and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Many people find ways to de-stress that are expensive, like going to a spa or getting a manicure and pedicure. Doing these regularly can really add up and although they are very relaxing to say the least, the effects are short lived. And besides, you have to book an appointment for one and somehow squeeze it into your schedule. That adds more stress (for me anyway).
So here are Five Free (or practically free) ways to de-stress to get that zen back in your life.
- Sleep - Although you might think that sleep is a low priority in your life (most people sacrifice sleep in order to cram more things in their day), you need to incorporate sleep in order to function at peak performance. Most people need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day (WebMD). People who don’t have enough sleep are at higher risk for motor vehicle accidents and are less productive and have difficulty problem solving.
- Relationships - We’ve all neglected the important relationships in our lives at some point, but satisfying personal relationships buffer the stressors in life. We need to nurture and cherish these quality relationships in our life. So pick up that phone or go over to your friend’s house (no texting please) and connect!
- Adopt a Glass Half Full Mentality - I often think that no matter what happens to me (or how bad of a day I can have), the only thing I can change or control is my perspective. I admit that it’s hard to change my perspective to try and see the silver lining to the dark storm cloud…but it really works wonders- try it! You’ll find that your muscles stop tensing up and your breathing isn’t so shallow.
- Relaxation Techniques - Laughter, meditation, at-home DIY yoga. Meditation works wonders and you can do it anytime. There are some free Podcasts you can download in iTunes that teach you how to do mindful meditation. But simply, it is just concentrating on your breath, breathing slowly through your “belly” to get a more concentrated breath, and trying not to think about anything else other than your breathing. It works really quickly and can be used during high stress situations at inopportune times…like work.
- Time Management - The lack of time management or over time management might have gotten you in this stress-induced pickle in the first place, but time management can get you out. Create a small list of things you need to do or accomplish that day, and label them as a) you need to get it done TODAY b) It’d be nice if you could get this done today and c) It would be nice to work on a portion of this today as this is an ongoing project. Labeling your tasks and to-do list also ties in with the changing of your perspective. Instead of thinking that you need to get XYZ done ASAP, you’ll feel that you’ve accomplished what you set out to do and as a result, will feel less stress. Also, you can download some free time organization apps to help you out.
These five ways to de-stress are all free and although they sound like common sense, sometimes we all need a little reminder (even if it be from a blog post!) to relax, devote some time for ourselves, and de-stress. Without taking time out for ourselves, we run the risk of sacrificing our immune systems for the short term and getting sick, and for the long term, including weight gain, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Our lives are hectic enough, we don’t need to be adding to the stress by stressing ourselves and our loved ones out.
Bargainmoosers, what is your favourite and free way to de-stress?