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30 Free Or Cheap Ways To Reduce Stress And To Refresh Yourself

30 Free Or Cheap Ways To Reduce Stress And To Refresh Yourself

When we give so much of ourselves throughout the day, it can really start to wear us down. We are all required to put out energy, as we all have varying levels of time commitments. But, the more overworked, stressed, and exhausted we become, the worse we are able to function.

We actually are less productive, make more mistakes, have less energy, and can become even more overwhelmed.  Like a good night’s sleep, we can actually do things to slow down, recharge ourselves, and reduce stress.  It also doesn’t have to cost that much.

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Here is a quick list of ways that have helped me reduce stress and refresh myself.

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  1. Listen to a Podcast and learn something new.  I like “Stuff You Should Know.”
  2. Watch Alan Watts videos on YouTube.  His voice alone will soothe you.
  3. Take a nap.  Mmmm sleep.
  4. Call an old friend.  They want to hear from you.  Don’t just text, CALL them.
  5. Watch stand-up comedy.  One of my favorites is Louis C.K.
  6. Take a break (click here for a simple website that helps you do just that).
  7. Offer to help someone you know for free.  It makes you feel good.
  8. Buy someone else their coffee at Starbucks.  You will make someone’s day.  Good karma never hurts.
  9. Take a 20 minute walk.  Get outside and smell the roses!
  10. Write down 10 things you are grateful for.  Today, one of mine is cheese.  How do they make it taste sooo good?
  11. Take a long drive somewhere.  Preferably out on an open road or somewhere quiet.  Roll down the windows to enjoy the fresh air.
  12. Listen to music that lifts your spirits up.  Yanni anyone?  I’m so cool.
  13. Write a handwritten letter to someone.  Wait, you mean like a pen and paper?  You can do it!  Stamps are still pretty cheap.
  14. Sit in silence for 5 minutes.  Watch as all those crazy thoughts pass through you.
  15. Read poems or quotes by Rumi.  I’d love to have gone to coffee with that guy.
  16. Spend time with animals.  Visit an animal shelter or dog park.  Animals have an instant calming effect.
  17. Take a bath or hot shower.  Clean up nice.
  18. Stretch out your muscles.  Download The Office Yoga App for quick ideas.
  19. Pick up a new hobby.  Try something new or learn a new language- Duolingo is free!
  20. Watch a Little League baseball game in the park.  Those kids keep things in perspective.
  21. Buy yourself a frozen yogurt (Fro Yo).  This is so West Coast (first time I’m saying that) but treat yourself with something small.
  22. Volunteer your time on a Saturday morning.  I always feel better when I am helping others.
  23. Plan a get together with friends.  Why not take initiative and plan something fun? The planning is half the fun. It can even be a game night.
  24. Take a deep breath, then take another one.  Then, another one!  SLOW DOWN.
  25. Buy yourself or someone else flowers.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  Grocery stores often have cheap flowers.
  26. Pick up an old project you never completed.  Mine was filing old paperwork- maybe not so fun but took my mind off things.
  27. High five the next person you walk by.  Then wash your hands.
  28. Go to a museum.  There are free museums everywhere.
  29. Do a cannonball off of a diving board.  Do more things that make you feel like a kid again.
  30. Hug somebody you know when they are least expecting it.  Maybe not your boss but someone can always use a good hug.

You don’t have to do all of these or any of them for that matter.  I just like to do more of what works for me.  In fact, I’ve done all of these at some point and they’ve helped me decompress and recharge.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a trip to Fiji, but everyone can take a little more time out for themselves.  You deserve it.

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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