De-Stress on a Budget
This is a pretty high-stress part of the year. It’s tax season, midterm season, allergy season and now, on top of all of that, we have COVID-19! I was originally planning this blog to focus primarily on general stress but hey, let’s throw a little social distancing, anti-widespread-panic stuff in while we’re at it!
As a person who has graduated from a university, traveled on my own and moved to a handful of new cities post-graduation but still sans-employment, I’m pretty used to being pretty stressed. Over the years, and through many tears, I’ve come up with a few things that help mitigate stress. None of these solve stress, but they give me a minute to calm down, take a step back and give my mind a breather.
Here are a few easy, budget-friendly things to help you chill out during this extra-stressful time of year! None of the links to anything are sponsored, they're all just resources I found helpful!
When I get super stressed out, my eating habits hit the drain first. Fresh fruits and veggies and cooking from scratch turn straight into living off of peanut butter out of the jar, instant mashed potatoes and Swedish fish. As soon as I eat real food I feel so much better, which is why easy, healthy snacks are such a lifesaver! I know there area a lot of articles out there about the “one food that makes you lose weight in your gut” or “superfoods you have to add to your diet!” or that say to “eat this weird fruit to increase your brain function!” but let me simplify all this hullaballoo. No one food is going to make you healthy; it’s all about balance. “Superfood” is not a scientific term, it’s just a buzzword for food high in nutritional value. To eat healthy, focus on finding whole, unprocessed foods that you like and that make you feel good. Forcing yourself to add blueberries to something because they’re supposed to be antioxidants is just not worth it! Sorry to get on a soapbox, but the amount of false information, shame-driven diet marketing and guilt-inducing health articles circulating the web frustrate me to no end.
Anyway, let’s take a note from the British and start with tea time! Chamomile, lavender and peppermint are popular herbal teas for de-stressing, but my favorites are anything with lemon or hibiscus. The floral notes are so sunny and the lemon is a good non-caffeinated refresher. Any cup of tea is fine, just as long as it’s decaffeinated. Generally, teas that do not have caffeine in them are labeled “herbal” or “decaf.” Contrary to popular assumption, green tea does contain caffeine, although less than black teas. To pair with my tea, I like a fresh, easy-to-make snack. One of my favorite ways to do this is to start with a bread base, then add any type of toppings. Usually I use rice cakes, but here I used little toast things, because my grocery store was completely emptied out due to quarantine-buying. 2020 is weird.
- Whole wheat bread
- Rice cakes
Topping Combo Ideas
- Nut butter / sliced bananas / chocolate chips / honey drizzle
- Nutella / pumpkin seeds / craisins / coconut / blueberries
- Vanilla yogurt / sliced apples / honey drizzle / cinnamon
- Smashed avocado / oil drizzle / pinch of salt & pepper / squeeze of lemon
- Vanilla yogurt / sliced peaches / blueberries / honey drizzle
- Cream cheese / sliced cucumbers / pinch of pepper / red pepper flakes
- Hummus / sliced bell peppers / pinch of salt / sprinkle of parsley
- Avocado / pistachios / pinch of salt & pepper
- Peanut butter / pumpkin seeds / coconut / chopped walnuts
When I was in college and studying for hours on end at the library, I’d ask someone to watch my laptop/books and take a quick walk outside. My favorite library to study at was right by a lake so I’d walk down, watch the ducks and feel the sun on my face for a few minutes before heading back inside. Or I’d go down to the lake and have a good cry, then go back to studying. Either way, I always felt a lot better.
While it’s pretty common knowledge that exercise is generally good for you, numerous studies have also linked exercise to stress reduction! The best part of this is that “exercise” does not mean you have to go for a gym, lift weights, go for a run, or even break a sweat. You just have to get up and get moving. I really love this stretching video by Sarah Beth Yoga as well as Yoga by Adrienne’s Youtube channel because she has playlists separating videos by length so if I only have 20 minutes, it’s easy to find a video that I can do.
Set what you’re working on aside, grab your colored pencils, markers or paint, and color a little! A study by Amy D. Khasky and Jonathan C. Smith, “Stress, Relaxation States, and Creativity” as well as another study, “Creativity and Stress,” by Reg Talbot, Cary Cooper and Steve Barrow, found that creative activity resulted in lowered stress. Creativity is anything that allows for self expression via originality of thought. In layman’s terms, coloring helps calm you down. Anything creative has the same effect: playing piano, drawing freehand, hand-making a card or sewing patches on a denim jacket. I’ve linked a few sites here with free printable coloring pages, but a quick Google or Pinterest search will give you pretty much any subject you want!
Coloring page sites
- Nerdy Mamma
- Lots of detailed nature pictures
- Best Coloring Pages for Kids
- A good mix of larger and more detailed pictures
- Just Color
- Can search by category, keyword, or just scroll through the most popular
Social Distancing Ideas!
Covid-19 is a highly contagious disease so Public Health officials are urging, or even enforcing, social distancing. Social distancing means limiting the number of people you interact with by avoiding any non-essential activities. This is one of the most important thing individuals can do to help slow down the spread of Covid-19, but it also can result in getting cabin fever after several days of not going to work or school. Luckily, there are still lots of things you still can do! Here's a few ideas to help keep yourself amused while staying home and flattening the curve!
- Go for a walk and try to find a new area of your neighborhood
- FaceTime your friends in other cities
- Cook/bake something from scratch (soups are great for using up lots of veggies!)
- Clean your windows
- Dust your baseboards
- Snail mail your grandparents/friends/parents a card with a cute note
- Learn how to French braid
- Go for a run
- Find a local hike you haven’t done
- Learn to say “hello” “thank you” and “goodbye” in 5 languages
Here's to staying healthy and calm!