15 Low Cost Ways to Beat Stress

By Frugal Duchess on 16 July 2009 7 comments
Photo: muha

Emotional spending and expensive junk food binges -- budget busters -- are often triggered by stress. Here are a few ideas for diminishing stress without spending a lot of money.

1. Cup of tea

A hot cup of tea is a low-calorie comfort food. Additionally, the process of fixing a cup of tea is a ritual that can halt negative worry cycles. Even sipping coffee can have a calming effect. A Harvard study about coffee drinking habits is quoted in a February 2008 issue of Woman's World magazine. The survey findings: coffee drinkers are "less likely to be seriously depressed than non-coffee drinkers," according to Woman's World.

2. Repetitive Activities

Sewing, knitting, puzzle solving are a few activities that lower blood pressure and liberate us from the stress chamber. Boggle, jigsaw puzzles and other problem-solving puzzles can provide short-term relief from anxieties. Sometimes, I stumble upon the answer to a pressing problem while tinkering around with a puzzle or a word game.

3. Housekeeping

Washing dishes, sweeping the floor and other house-cleaning chores release pressure. Ironing out wrinkles from a shirt or skirt can also release tension. Cleaning can be a form of meditation. Deleting email files also has a soothing effect.

4. Music break

Classical music, in particular, can be very calming, according to Woman's World magazine: "Oxford University scientists say listening [to classical music] can decrease your heartbeat to a meditative, relaxing rate almost instantly."

5. Write

Picking up a pen to write a letter, a journal entry or a short note may help to break the negative spin cycle.

6. Exercise

Dancing, walking, running and stretching release tension stored in muscles.

7. Make a list

Creating a list (blessings, groceries needed, tasks to be completed or other agendas) gives me a feeling of control. With a greater sense of control, I feel more relaxed and more productive.

8. Do a good deed

Doing something nice for someone else helps me to be less self-centered and in the process, I move far beyond inner circles of worry.

9. Take small steps

Breaking a large project into smaller goals can make the task seem less overwhelming and more do-able.

10. DIY aromatherapy

Small bottles of fragrant essential oils --lavender, grapefruit and other scents -- provide an anti-depression lift.

12. Toss out clothing

Purging the wardrobe provides a mental purge as well. It's like clearing space on the computer hard drive. Donate the extra clothing to charity and get a tax deduction.

13. Color or doodle

Test-phobic children should doodle a bit to relax before taking a test, according to one research report. The process may also work for adults.

14. Read

A novel or a poem can provide a lift into a stress-free zone. Even a short reading break helps me snap out of a funk.

15. Take a short nap

Fatigue is often the enemy. Many corporate rainmakers use short daily naps --5 to 20 minutes -- as a profit-producing tool. The logic: a well-rested mind is a revenue-producing mind.

Editor's note: Sharon Harvey Rosenberg (The Frugal Duchess) will be joining Wise Bread as a full time blogger in August. In the mean time, she'll be dropping by with a few guest posts a week.  You can find more great tips from Sharon in her book Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money or in Wise Bread's new book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.

Can't wait until August? Here are other great posts by Sharon on her blog The Frugal Duchess. Enjoy!

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Guest's picture

Unless it's Shostakovich... :)

Guest's picture

Awesome tips. Thanks!

Guest's picture

Just close your eyes and focus on your breath for five minutes. Imagine a cool flow of blue water enter the top of your head and travel all the way to your toes on the inhale, then exhale the water as it cleanses your impurities. Helps relax you and helps break the cycle since you are focusing on something else (your breath and the imagery.

Play with your pets, or your children.

Add some Yoga to your exercise routine.

Enjoy some intimate time with your significant other.

Learn some basic accupressure points by searching the internet. Massage those points to help unblock any stuck flow of energy.

Guest's picture

Take a walk by yourself.

Meet a friend for a quiet cup of coffee.

Pray in a quiet place.

Take a short nap with quiet, soothing music.

Guest's picture

Great post!

I love point #8. Good idea, and so true!

I would add:
Talk to a friend
Write in a journal

Guest's picture

Listening to classical music while taking a walk in a quiet park is an awesome way of de-stressing!

Guest's picture

Great list of cheap ways to beat the stress.