4 Totally Free Ways to Combat Financial Stress
Money is a top cause of stress for Americans, with 72% of Americans feelings stressed about money at least once a month, according to the American Psychological Association.
However, finding ways to relax, unwind, and combat stress is crucial to maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health.
If you’re currently stressed about your student loans, debts, or finances, try one of these 4 free ways to combat stress.
*Disclaimer: The information posted here is not intended to substitute the advice of a medical professional. If you are struggling, please seek professional help. You can visit https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/finding-help for more resources.
# 1 Go for a walk
Walking reduces stress, boosts endorphins, and is a completely free exercise option!
In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout…Although the effects may be temporary, they demonstrate that a brisk walk or other simple activity can deliver several hours of relief, similar to taking an aspirin for a headache.”
If you’re pressed for time, try fitting in short bursts of walking throughout the day. A few time to try walking:
- 10 minutes in the morning before breakfast
- Take a 10 minute walk during a lunch or shift break
- Have a relaxing 15 minute stroll after dinner
- Walk up and down the stairs for 5 minutes during the work day.
- Make a date to walk with friends on the weekends or after work.
- Walk to an errand, like returning books to the library.
To remind yourself to take a short walk, set a reminder in your phone. Or schedule a daily walk into your calendar.
# 2 Try deep breathing
Did you know slowing, deep breathing can drastically reduce stress? According to The American Institute of Stress, deep breath activates the body’s natural “relaxation response.” The relaxation response has a host of positive benefits that help combat stress including:
- The heart beats slower
- Muscles relax
- Breathing slows down
- Blood pressure decreases
Interested? Try this deep breathing exercise the next time you feel stressed out:
- Sit down.
- Place one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your chest.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose. Exhale slowly through your mouth.
- Feel free to set a timer (1, 2, 5 minutes) for this exercise. Or drop into this exercise when you need a quick and effective way to destress.
# 3 Get outdoors
Being outdoors is soothing for the soul. Being in nature or outdoors can improve your mood, increase feelings of happiness, and create a sense of general wellbeing.
Here are a few ways to enjoy the outdoors, no matter where you live:
- Walk or drive to a nearby park. Enjoy time sitting on a blanket in the grass. People watch. Or, read a book or listen to a fun podcast.
- Enjoy an outdoor game like soccer, basketball, football, tennis, softball, or catch.
- Move your workout outside.
- Tackle an outdoor chore for yourself, friend, family member or neighbor. Try: raking leaves, gardening, mowing the lawn, or washing a car.
- Eat a meal outdoors.
# 4 Get lost in a good story
Student debt is stressful and financial burdens can feel inescapable. But, a good book or enjoyable magazine can be the perfect way to relax and unwind before bed. In fact, a 2009 study by the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. Plus, reading is a faster de-stressor than listening to music or drinking a cup of tea!
For the ultimate escape, try to pick a fiction book, so you can fall into into another world. Or, read about an activity or hobby you enjoy like sports, knitting, cooking, or traveling.
For free access to the latest books and magazines, find your nearest library here: https://www.usa.gov/libraries
Alexis Irvin is a writer and documentary filmmaker obsessed with entrepreneurship, careers, and pursuing dreams. Her Millennial career guide, Build Your Dreams: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love, is available at bookstores everywhere! Alexis lives in sunny Los Angeles where she loves to hike, eat tacos, and read on the beach.