It’s normal to feel exhausted after a long day at work or school, but did you know that chronic stress increases risk for a number of health conditions? It’s true: high levels of cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” can weaken the immune system and raise cholesterol and blood pressure. Fortunately, there are many ways to relieve stress that are both enjoyable and affordable.
Watch Your Favorite TV Show
What could be better than spending a few hours relaxing on the couch and catching up on all of your favorite programs? If you have access to cable or an account on any of the popular media streaming services, there are hundreds of shows and movies available right now, so grab a bag of popcorn and start watching! TV and movies help melt away stress by allowing viewers to imagine themselves in unusual situations and empathize with on-screen characters.
Spend a Day Journaling
Recording the events of the day offers not only a chance to de-stress, but valuable time for self-reflection as well. Writing your thoughts in a journal for up to an hour every day can improve working memory and boost immune defenses by decreasing stress. Journaling is simple and inexpensive, requiring only a pencil and a cheap notebook to get started.
Break a Sweat
Exercising is one of the best ways to combat stress, and you don’t even need a gym membership to plan an effective workout routine. Most body weight exercises can be performed anywhere, and your neighborhood or local park is a great place to enjoy the sunshine with a jog or brisk walk. Aerobic exercise like jogging improves cardiovascular health and decreases tension, in addition to strengthening muscles and reducing body fat. Adding just 30 minutes of exercise to your day can significantly affect mood and self-esteem.
Get Lost in a Great Book
After all that exercise, don’t forget to work out the most important organ of all–your brain! Reading is known to improve general brain function, and it’s always fun to plunge into some epic fantasy, exciting sci-fi, or a steamy romance. Short paperback novels can be purchased cheaply from many stores, or checked out from your local library for free. For those who own an e-reader, there exists an abundance of literature available on every corner of the internet as well. Reading relieves stress, makes you feel more relaxed, and might even boost your vocabulary. What’s not to love?
Invite Your Friends Over
Sometimes everyone needs a shoulder to lean on. Friendship can be a truly enriching experience, and knowing that you’re loved and valued by others does wonders for self-esteem. Spending an evening surrounded by friends can make anyone feel better after a tough day, and among laughter and acceptance there is ample opportunity to relax and de-stress. If you’re still feeling down after reading, writing, exercising, and journaling, pick up the phone and call a few old pals. You’ll have a great time catching up, and so will they.
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