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4 Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Reduce Stress

Managing stress effectively can be foundational to enjoying a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle. Letting stress go unchecked over time can take a toll on your body, mind and emotions. Add a few of the following de-stress strategies to your weekly calendar to inspire more moments of peace and balance.

Woman on couch working.

1. Unplug and unwind outdoors.

Did you know you it's possible to help improve your mental (and physical) health with just 120 minutes of outdoor time a week? While you can opt for a vigorous two-hour hike or bike ride if that's your preference, you can also split that time up into smaller, less-intense increments.

Leisurely strolls along mountain trails, lakes and seashores can also be an option. Relaxing on a bench or hanging out at the neighborhood park provide great benefits as well. So put on your walking shoes and soak up the scenery around you.

2. Laugh out loud.

One of the quickest (and most fun!) ways to cool down your stress response and encourage your brain to release feel-good endorphins is to let loose with some laughter. These easy trick is a great way to reduce physical tension because laughter stimulates circulation and promotes muscle relaxation.

Some easy ways to lighten your stress load and put more laughter in your life include watching a funny online video or virtual comedy show. One unique option is finding a laughter yoga group in your area. This playful technique combines simulated laughter exercises with yoga breathing in a group setting to reduce stress and improve health and well-being.

3. Create something with your hands.

You don't need to be a professional artist to reap the many benefits of art therapy. If you already have a hobby such as knitting, woodworking or gardening, you know how soothing it can be to keep your hands busy while stilling the mind. But even those without an existing passion can find joy in putting together a puzzle or purchasing one of the many adult coloring books available now.

Another avenue to explore is in the kitchen learning how to cook a new dish or cuisine. Maybe experimenting with a different recipe, a couple times a week can bring new life to your every day routine. Online cooking classes make it easier than ever to expand your repertoire in the kitchen. And if the kids are looking to help, look for easy recipes that you can do together.

4. Soak your way to serenity.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing. And often, the best place to do nothing is in a bathtub of hot water. A cup or two of Epsom salts added in can help loosen tight muscles and relieve inflammation.

Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the salts for an aromatic treat. Rose, lavender, clary sage and sandalwood can be good choices for reducing stress, lowering anxiety, inducing relaxation and promoting sleep.

Family in the kitchen.

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