American Dream

6 Ways to Reduce Stress on a Budget

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Modern living seems made for stressful situations. We often find ourselves rushing around, trying to complete work projects, shuttling family members around, and dealing with other daily pressures that life throws our way.

But chronic stress can lead to a number of health risks, such as heart disease, anxiety, and depression. It can also affect your mood and put strain on your relationships. In honor of National Stress Awareness Day, here are six ways to reduce stress without breaking the bank.

1. Meditate

Mindfulness meditation encourages you to live in the moment, to stop feeling frazzled about the future or continually replaying the past. And you don’t need to spend money to do it. Guided meditations ranging from five to 30 minutes (or longer) can be found for free online. There are also free and low-cost apps, such as The Mindfulness App ($2.99, iTunes Store), so that you can carry guided meditations with you wherever you go.

2. Practice Yoga

Another inexpensive way to beat stress is to practice yoga. You don’t need to be particularly flexible to perform some of the basic yoga poses, many of which are ideal for helping you relieve stress. Movement and position changes help release tension, and like meditation, you don’t need a pricey class or instructor to guide you. Just look for free and low-priced apps or podcasts.

3. Take Deep Breaths

If you have a few minutes, one of the best ways to reduce stress is to engage in deep breathing. Whether you take a deep breath and slowly exhale to calm yourself in a stressful situation or perform breathing exercises for several minutes, deep breathing helps control your level of stress. To enhance the stress-relieving aspects of your deep breathing, combine it with meditation or yoga.

4. Drink Black Tea

A daily cup of tea might be one way to help you manage your stress. Research indicates that regular black tea drinkers have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood than those who don’t drink tea. Tea doesn’t have to be expensive, and its health benefits might go beyond reducing your stress levels.

5. Add New Scents to Your Home

Aromatherapy can provide you with a number of benefits, and one of those is stress relief. The right scents introduced into your home can calm and relax you. Some of the best scents for stress relief include lavender, peppermint, rosemary, and lemon. These scents help reduce anxiety or enhance your mood in a way that allows you to better cope with the stresses of life.

6. De-Stress in Pairs

Many find de-stressing to be a solitary action; but for many individuals in a relationship, the act of relieving stress needs both support and communication from your partner. So while many of the above actions can work in twos, other actions may also help you de-stress while simultaneously solidifying your relationship. For example, spontaneous kissing, according to WebMD, is noted as an action that releases endorphins and lowers stress. Additionally, the slightest pressure from a hug physically tells the brain through your nerve endings to stagnate its release of cortisol. Otherwise, good old-fashioned exercise works great in pairs. Tennis just isn’t nearly as fun or competitive solo.

Not everyone has the time or money to receive a weekly massage or join a pricey gym. But the good news is that with a few simple actions, it’s possible for you to reduce the stress in your life and improve your overall well-being.

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Miranda is a financial journalist and money expert. She covers business and finance topics for a number of outlets, including for U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and AllBusiness.com. Miranda also does corporate work for companies like H&R Block and Equifax. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son, where she enjoys reading, travel, and the outdoors.