Thank God the madness of the workweek is just a few hours away. You have all your mails answered, clients updated and it is now you and the long weekend ahead. Of course the easiest thing to do to unwind is to have a drink with the girls or go for pricey spa treatments or shop till you drop. While all these ways are relaxing and helpful, they come with the disadvantage of cost. It is very difficult to lean in into the relaxation when you know you are bleeding cash for it. So, because we know that money is tight for a lot of us, we have compiled a list of easy and free stress-reducing activities you can do without feeling a pinch in your wallet.
Create a calm down playlist
Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. Music can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones. This month devote yourself to compiling your perfect calm-down playlist and of course take time to enjoy it. My favorite: George Michael’s One more try and Sade’s By your side.
Read a book
Research suggests that reading can work as a serious stress-buster. One 2009 study by Sussex University researchers showed that reading may reduce stress by as much as 68 percent. “It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination,” cognitive neuropsychologist David Lewis revealed. As Dr. Seuss once wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go.” Diving into a good book opens up a whole world of knowledge. Too many people are complacent about their lives, not concerning themselves with the ideas that have made the world what it is today. Reading books can help you foster your natural curiosity and desire to learn even more about the world.
Turn it Off
Create a space that invokes a feeling of relaxation and peace. Turn off the technological signals vying for your attention such as the TV and computer. Set your smartphone to silent and place it out of the way. Change into comfortable clothing, dim the lights, and perhaps play soothing music to begin letting your body and mind know that your busy day is over and it’s time to relax.
Soak in some scent
It takes just a minute to drip some lavender, tea tree, or another essential oil into your palm and inhale. The soothing scents may help send stress and anxiety packing by stimulating smell receptors in the nose that connect to the part of the brain that regulates emotions. Take it a notch higher and indulge in a bubble bath complete with scented candles and some incense. You deserve it.
Create a Zen Zone
Get one room that is used the least and turn it into your space that’s completely free of stress where you can go to relax. Set up a comfortable chair or light some incense and disappear there for a few hours until you feel refreshed.
It’s easy to get swept up focusing on the negative aspects of life. You regret the things you did or didn’t do during the week. Perhaps you struggle with a lack of fulfillment in life, which can lead to depressive energy and thoughts. But as the saying goes, “Where thoughts go, energy flows.” This is where gratitude comes into action. There is scientific proof of the emotional and physical health benefits that come from focusing on gratitude. It’s best to practice this at the end of your winding-down routine. Sit a few moments with your eyes closed and then slowly begin to think about what you’re grateful for—it can be anything from having a roof over your head, to your heart that beats, to that one person who made your day at work. As you think about what you’re grateful for, you begin to invite more lightness, joy, and peace into every aspect of your being. The results will be more sustaining than reaching for that glass of wine after a long, hard week. The only side effects from performing this routine are good sleep, waking up feeling fresh and alive, and living a life with purpose.