The fall semester ends in roughly one month, and I can already see the stress building amongst the students. Their end-of-term projects and finals wait on the horizon, fatigue shows on their face, and their “bright-eyed” enthusiasm has dimmed just slightly.
They desperately need a break, yet they continue to power through, struggling to balance their studies, extracurriculars, work, and a social life. (Sound familiar, my busy-awesome friends?)
As a professor, I see these same trends unfold every semester, and as an advocate for self-care and healthy work-life boundaries, I strive to remind my students about the importance of rest.
In class today, I took a few minutes to remind them to slow down this weekend, and we shared a few affordable ways to recharge (they’re college students after all!) They came up with some great ideas, and inspired, I thought I’d share their three favorites with you!
So without further ado, read on for three affordable self-care ideas that you can practice today!
Top Three Affordable Self-Care Ideas
Listen to Soothing Music
Science has shown that listening to soothing music can reduce stress levels. It can physically lower your blood pressure, decrease your level of stress hormones, and slow your pulse and heart rate. What’s more, it can help you focus your thoughts and keep your mind from racing.
Best of all, you can find relaxing music for free on YouTube, Spotify, or Pandora. Need some ideas to get started? No problem! Check out these great suggestions from the University of Nevada, Reno:
- A Moment of Peace Meditation, (Aneal & Bradfield, “Heaven and Earth Spirits” track from Life & Love), YouTube, lovely contemporary piano music with accompanying instruments and nature scenes, 3:36.
- Quiet Mind, (Nawang Khechog, “Quiet Mind” track 3 from Universal Love,) YouTube, relaxing Tibetan meditation flute music, 3:26.
- Echoes of Time, (C. Carlos Nakai from the Canyon Trilogy), YouTube, serene Native American flute music, with a picture of Nakai backlit by the sun at the Grand Canyon, 3:49.
Take a Walk
Walking is also a great (and free!) way to reduce stress. It gets your body moving, you breathe in the fresh air, and you have the opportunity to observe the beauty all around you. What’s more, the Mayo Clinic reminds us that exercise releases feel-good endorphins, increases self-confidence, and lowers symptoms often associated with mild depression and anxiety. Sign me up!
If you’re anything like me, you’ve practiced meditation once or twice, and then you dismissed it. Perhaps your mind wandered constantly, so you convinced yourself that you’re “bad” at meditation and that the practice isn’t for you.
I get it; I felt the same way for a long time.
After practicing meditation consistently for a few months now, however, I’m singing a different tune.
Here’s the deal; even a few minutes of meditation can play a major role in reducing stress and restoring inner peace. I’ve been practicing morning meditation for about 5-10 minutes before work each day, and it’s remarkable the difference these few minutes of inward focus have made.
What’s more, anyone can meditate, you can practice it anywhere, and it doesn’t require any fancy equipment. All you need is a quiet place to close your eyes. If you have trouble focusing as I do, you might also consider using a mala, which helps you count your breaths and focus on your practice.
How do you start? Just follow these simple steps:
Sit comfortably on the floor or on a chair with your back straight.
Breathe normally, and focus all of your attention on your breath as it fills and exits your lungs.
If your thoughts start to stray, gently them back to your breath as soon as you notice.
Start with five to ten minutes, and work your way up from there.
That’s it. (See? I told you that you could do it!)
And that’s it, friends. Three affordable self-care ideas to help you destress today! Try them all and see what works best for you!
What are your favorite affordable self-care ideas? Let me know below!