April is usually a pretty busy month, considering it’s not a part of the holiday season. If you’re a student, you’re suffering through one last big push before facing the only thing standing in between you and summer: finals. If you’re in the real world, you’ve been working non-top since February because someone decided adults don’t get spring breaks (which is absurd and completely unfair) – oh, and don’t even bring up tax season. Hold on. Take a deep breath. We have some stress relief activities that are sure to lower your heart rate.
Since April is so hectic, it makes sense that it’s also National Stress Awareness Month … and in the middle of it, on April 16 (yes, the day before this year’s taxes are due), is National Stress Awareness Day in the U.S. Which means it is time to treat yo’self.
So you don’t think you can really treat yo’self to the full extent because you have a pretty tight budget? We hear you. So we’ve got 10 cheap and easy ways you can indulge in a little me time on April 16. (Or, like, anytime. Self-care is a full-time job. Don’t let us limit you.)
1. Read a Book
Or a magazine … or a poem … or some fan fiction. Whatever it is, just immerse yourself in someone else’s thoughts for once.
Reading is a great way to escape while still exercising your mind, and it might even give you some perspective on the current situation that’s stressing you out. Chances are someone else somewhere else in this big, wide world is going through whatever you are, and they’re still alive after all of it. Spoiler: You will be, too.
2. Go for a Walk
Fresh air, exercise and quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of your normal life might just be what the doctor ordered. Outside, your roommate definitely can’t remind you it’s your turn to do the dishes. And there’s something about being out in nature or a bigcity that makes you feel like a small part of something much bigger.
Plus, even if you’re not the biggest gym rat, brisk walking is good exercise that will give you that endorphin boost you need to calm down a little. Plus, endorphins make you happy! Take it from Elle Woods.
Oh, and it’s obviously a huge plus if you bring a canine friend. Because they just make everything better.
If you’re looking for a bigger rush of endorphins, check out our list of the best exercise routines to kick-start your heart health!
3. Call Your Mom, or Dad, or Sibling or Best Friend
Believe it or not, there’s a reason you keep hearing “I’m only a phone call away!” Because it’s true. Always. And, for the record, Frank Sinatra told you first.
It’s great if your loved ones are nearby and can grab a cup of coffee or a drink with you, but if you’re not so close, a phone call can do just the trick. The people who know you best tend to remind you who you are and where you’ve come from … and it doesn’t hurt that they’re also usually your biggest fans!
4. Unplug From All of Your Screens
It’s no secret that social media can put a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure on users – and that’s just the fun and typically optional sector of the digital age. Add in work and personal emails, news alerts and unexpected/unwanted texts (your ex really should have listened to that Taylor Swift song you told him to check out), and suddenly you feel like your head might explode. It’s no wonder you can’t focus on anything for more than a few minutes. How could you when your phone is buzzing and your laptop is dinging all the time?
So, just unplug. Clean your room, journal, go for a walk (sound familiar?), spend time with your family. By the time you log back in, everything and everyone will still be there waiting … and you’ll be able to focus better after taking a much-needed break.
5. Sing Really Loudly
It is scientifically proven: Singing makes you happier. Because it requires deep breathing to belt out your best Kelly Clarkson impression into your hair brush, singing draws more oxygen into the blood and increases your circulation, which makes you release more (you guessed it) endorphins.
So turn on your favorite middle school jam or that one song you can’t help but hum to, and let loose a little. Who cares if your neighbors hearyou? Chances are they were doing the same thing when you were out on your walk. As far as stress relief activities go, this one’s easily one of the most joyous!
6. Volunteer at an Animal Shelter or Rescue
If you are even slightly an animal person, volunteering at an animal shelter or rescue is sure to make your day a little brighter. What is better than adorable dogs who just want to receive (and give) a little love? Nothing.
7. Take a Hike
No, literally. If going for a walk gave you a healthy dose of fresh air and nature (not to mention those exercise endorphins we love so much), a hike is even better. Plus, no matter how many hikes you go on, there is always a new trail nearby you probably haven’t tried yet, so there’s no shortage of opportunities to explore.
This is also something you can do easily with a friend or two for a beautiful, peaceful bonding experience you’re sure not to forget.
(Pssst … are you in SoCal? Check out five of our favorite hikes in the LA area to find which adventure you want to go on next!)
Even if you don’t practice yoga or mindfulness, you’ve probably at least heard of meditation: the process of focusing your mind to achieve a clear and calm state. The idea is you’re increasing your awareness of yourself and your surroundings while also training your mind to redirect or ignore unwanted thoughts.
In addition to reducing stress and anxiety, meditation also increases your attention span and improves your sleep … meaning it not only helps you with self-care in the moment, but after you’re done meditating, too. Om much?
9. Get a Pedicure
Fellas, this is for you too … you don’t have to get your nails painted to feel the benefits of a pedicure. Soaking your feet in warm water while a massage chair rubs your back is probably one of the original and most basic stress relief activities. Oh, and the foot massage is not too bad, either.
Some pedicures can be pricey, but salons sometimes have deals on certain days or times. You should definitely be able to find one in your price range … so even though it’s not an absolute necessity, you can afford to splurge a little. You deserve it.
10. Make Time for Something That Makes You Happy
So often we get caught up in our to-do lists and busy schedules and obligations that we forget to make time to do things that make us happy, like the hobbies that you found when you were living a simpler, less hectic life.
Taking time to reconnect with your favorite pastimes is crucial. Painting, writing, drawing, singing, dancing, playing an instrument, even watching TV with your roommate or showing your kids one of your favorite movies growing up: It all matters, and they all make great stress relief activities. If it makes you smile, you should be finding time in your day to make sure you get to do it.
Did we miss any of your favorite stress relief activities? Comment below to tell us what you do to relax! Need more stress releasing strategies? Check out our guide to relieving stress during the holidays – it’s brimming with tips you can use all year!