Do you ever have a day when you just want to throw in the towel? Life can get incredibly busy. Between grinding it out at your day job to managing your personal life, it’s important to remember to be mindful of your mental well-being.
For stressed out individuals, it can feel like mental health is a luxury that not everyone can afford. To start, therapy sessions can range from $65 per hour to $250 or more, while weekend getaways to places like Europe or the Himalayas can easily run you thousands of dollars in plane tickets and hotels.
Lack of funds shouldn’t be a barrier to mental health. Luckily for you, there are plenty of ways to free your mind without breaking the bank. Here are four ideas that can help you reduce stress on a budget.
Exercise without flexing your wallet
Research shows that exercise is good for your mental health. You might think you need a gym membership in order to get in a good workout. While pumping iron with other sweaty individuals might be motivating, you can still get great exercise at home.
A gym membership averages $58 per month, or $696 per year, which eat up a healthy portion of your budget. People are often willing to shell out money for a gym membership because it theoretically holds them accountable. By paying money for something, you are more likely to show up. But that’s not always the case. According to research from Finder.com, Americans waste approximately $1.8 billion dollars per year on unused gym memberships.
In lieu of a gym membership, try free workout videos online. There are several varieties to choose from: follow a Pinterest inspired workout set or watch a video on YouTube where the instructor works out with you.
Busy day? Seek peace and stillness
When you get caught up in a really busy day, it can be easy to ignore a very important person: yourself. When things feel busy, rather than reaching for takeout Thai or binge-watching TV—try sitting in stillness for a moment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that meditation has become increasingly popular. Meditation gives your sympathetic nervous system a break. No need to spend hundreds of dollars on a journey to find a guru in Bali. By taking time to breathe and quiet your mind, you can meditate from the comforts of your own home. There are a few free meditation apps you can use, but a simple timer and relaxing music can do the trick, too.
Try putting on a calming soundtrack and time yourself for just one minute. Focus on taking one breath at a time, put aside your to-do list and listen to the sound of your breathing. Tune in to the sound of your own breath and focus on a mental reset.
Step outside and smell the roses
Sometimes, just stepping outside can get you out of a funk. Research suggests that natural environments are associated with a lower risk of developing psychiatric disorders. Not only can you boost your mental health, but you also deepen your connection to nature.
This is especially true for kids. Children who grew up with access to green space are associated with a lower risk of psychiatric disorders later in life. Regardless of whether you live in a rural area, the suburbs or the big city, simply going outside can make a world of difference in your state of mind.
By walking around the block, you get the double benefit of feeling more balanced internally and keeping your hard-earned cash tucked away in a savings account. Better yet, trek out to your closest national park for a few hours of green living.
Avoid the sugar
Sweets and other processed foods are likely to have a negative impact on your mental health in the long-term. Researchers from London found that people who eat diets high in processed foods, including desserts, fried foods, and high-fat dairy products, are more likely to develop depression than those with a whole food diet.
In contrast, if you eat natural foods, including fruits, vegetables, and healthy protein sources, you start to feel good. One way to incorporate more healthy foods into your diet is by meal planning, which helps you buy only what you need and eliminates waste on impulse purchases.
Start small by introducing a green vegetable into your meal plan. Pro tip: Shop for produce that’s in season, which is likely to be discounted, saving you a few bucks on every grocery trip.