72% of Americans admit to being stressed about money. Of that 72%, 22% said they would classify their stress as “extreme.” Financial stress has been linked to migraines, insomnia, and even cardiovascular disease. Not only can financial stress take a toll on your health, it can also casue you to incur some hefty medical bills. That’s why we want to present you with some ways to unwind, destress, and just take care of yourself. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, how are you going to take care of anything or anyone else?
Don’t Let Stress Go Unchecked
Stress is an inevitable part of life, but it is one that you can manage if you know the right tips and tricks. For many, their version of stress relief is a pint of ice cream in front of their favorite TV show or movie. While this can be a good temporary fix, your stress is still bubbling under the surface, lurking, and waiting to bring you down. Luckily, you’re already on the right track by sitting in front of the TV. Take this a step further, try and clear your mind of thoughts and breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth. Do this five times and you will feel yourself start to relax. You may think this inconsequential, but consider this, a recent study showed that 1/3 of doctor visits are for stress-related issues. The same study showed that almost 70% of people who report excessive stress suffered from sleep deprivation. The aforementioned breathing exercise is a good starting point for stress relief, but what else can we do?
Move Your Body
Getting active has so many benefits, it just so happens that one of them is stress relief. The good thing is, you don’t have to be doing a hardcore workout for it to be considered physical activity. You CAN do a hardcore workout if that’s your thing, but you could also do yoga, run laps around your house, or even sweat to the oldies. When you move your body, you release endorphins (those are the things that make you feel good). You also focus your mind on your body and less on the things that are stressing you. So even if your physical activity consists of rolling around on the floor with your pet, do it! If you are looking for cost-effective options, check out YouTube™. Many fitness instructors post free videos with step-by-step instructions for beginners to pros. The best part? They’re free!
Let Your Creativity Flow
We all have creative outlets that let us express our true selves. However, when we get too stressed, our hobbies can fall by the wayside. Little did we know, this is counterproductive. A medical study in 2017 found that 75% of participants in the study produced significantly fewer stress hormones when they were practicing a creative activity they were passionate about. Pick up that camera, write in that journal, and paint that blank canvas. You’ll be making beautiful art AND reducing your stress. An easy, cheap creative activity is coloring. There are all kinds of coloring books (Lisa Frank, anyone?) for adults and crayons or colored pencils can be purchased on the cheap.
Talk It Out
In this digital age, we are more connected than ever, use that to your advantage! Your friends are your chosen support network. Studies show that listening and being listened to are great ways to manage stress. Schedule weekly video calls with your friends and loved ones just to check in. You’ll all feel so much better and you won’t have to spend a dime.
Laughter IS the Best Medicine
Sometimes, you just have to laugh. Find something that tickles your funny bone and run with it (literally if that’s your physical activity). Laughing increases your intake of oxygen which activates your organs. It can also stimulate your circulation which eases muscle tension and will help you relax. Laughter also has been shown to have overall mood-boosting effects. So, tell a joke, watch a funny movie, or just have a conversation with your funniest friend.
The thing about stress, is that it is universal. We all experience stress from time-to-time. That is why we must approach each other with empathy. We don’t know what a person is dealing with day-to-day. When it comes to our members, we care about more than just your financial well-being. We care about you as an individual. If your finances are causing you stress and you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out. HopeSouth is here to help.