Photo Credit: Onur Binay via Unsplash

Cheap, easy stress-busters

Aysha Sohail has some suggestions for those who need some relaxation on a budget!

As much as things like retail therapy and going abroad are fun, plenty of de-stressing activities exist which don’t harm your bank account. 

One thing which helped me at the beginning of the pandemic was going for runs. Even twenty minutes, going out to the park beside my house and basking in the sun when I felt overwhelmed with assignments and burnt out by the online school. Following an app like Couch to 5k can be useful when you want to improve systematically or make running a bit of a hobby with an end goal. This might be good for people who are just starting out – structured runs with lots of motivation. But just running freely is nice. Pop in your headphones and listen to music, an audiobook or a podcast and just vibe in nature. It’s getting lighter and a bit warmer, so it’s the perfect time to start. Friends of mine who run regularly talk about how they can just clear their heads, relieve their physical stress and feel a sense of achievement from it.

Sometimes, if you’re very stressed, it can feel difficult to leave the house though. When I feel anxious these days, I just want to roll up in a comforting blanket and feel warm. This is not the best technique for getting rid of stress though – it can just allow you to avoid the issue. 

I used to meditate before bed during my last year at school, but nowadays I much prefer doing yoga. It combines meditation with stretching. My first yoga mat had “this is my happy place” written on it and it was so real for that. After a bad day, before a busy day, or during a home study session, rolling out my mat and following a practice just calms me. You don’t need a yoga mat really though – you can just use a blanket, or if you have soft enough carpets/rugs – that also works. My favourite YouTube yoga account to follow when doing it at home is Yoga with Adriene. She has a range of different practices – some aimed at toning the body, others specifically for bedtime, or reducing anxiety. You can move for ten minutes or one hour – whatever you feel like. I would recommend following her channel, to everyone who doesn’t know about her already!

Stress doesn’t only respond to exercise though – taking it easy and having a self-care night in can be rejuvenating. One of my favourite ways to spend a self-care night is to put on a Netflix show and paint (recently I watched Crashing with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, a bit trashy but funny, and who can dislike Phoebe?). Specifically, painting different-shaped pieces of paper to make Pinterest-worthy wall displays while watching shows is a favourite self-care activity of mine. You can find very cheap art equipment at shops like The Works or on Amazon. All you need is a sketchbook, a watercolour paint palette and a couple of brushes. This will bring you immeasurable joy. You can sit with friends and do this for a wholesome night.

I just have to say it – reading. 

Buying books is expensive but going to your local library is free. I had stopped going to the library (where I used to go as a child all the time) but started again when I was at uni and feeling broke. It had loads of classics – perfect for people in their dark academia era. It’s kind of fun looking at a limited selection as well – you try books you wouldn’t have bought but look kind of interesting. 

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