If you’re a mom, especially with young kids, you probably have little to no time to relax de-stress, let alone extra money to spend on spa treatments or massages.
I’m in the same boat.
I haven’t been taking a lot of time for myself because, well, there hasn’t been much time to take. But, I’ve quickly realized that to be the best mom, worker and wife, I need to make myself a priority too.
So, here are my top five free or inexpensive ways to de-stress.
#1: Yoga With Adriene
I’m going to preface this by saying, I am not a yogi. In fact, for years, I turned my nose up to yoga because I felt that my time was better spent sculpting my body in boot camp classes or through cardio.
Back in 2017, a male friend introduced me to Yoga With Adriene. I was complaining about a back injury I had from boot camp and he, an avid runner, said to check out her YouTube channel because she has yoga workouts for specific conditions.
Skeptical, I logged on and, holy cow:
- Yoga For When You Overeat
- Yoga For Writers
- Yoga at Your Desk
- Yoga For Your Lunch Break
- Yoga For Focus & Productivity
- Yoga For Hangovers
- Yoga For When You Are Sick
- Yoga For Text Neck
- Yoga on an Airplane
- Yoga For Grief
- Yoga For Kids (my girls love this one)
The list goes on and on and on. If you can pinpoint your pain or tightness, I guarantee Adriene has a video for it. And guess what? They are all FREE! You don’t even have to leave your room (or office) to do the workouts; just open one on your phone and get started.
These videos really help me relax and de-stress and the fact I can do them anytime, anywhere is a huge bonus.
#2: At-Home Facial
I love a good, relaxing spa facial like anyone else, but I am also pretty particular about what goes on my skin. It sucks to spend $100+ on a facial only to break out for days (or, often in my case, a week or longer) afterward.
So, once a week, to the delight of my family, I slather on this green goodness of a mask from Queen Helene. It takes about 10 minutes to dry (I usually leave it on for 20) and when you wipe it off, blackheads are noticeably gone and your skin looks brighter.
I’ve been using this specific brand and mask for more than a decade and it’s transitioned well as my skin has aged. For example, in my 20s, I had oily skin prone to breakouts. I would use this once a week and in-between facials, I’d use it as a spot treatment for pimples.
In short, it’s a special little treat that doesn’t cost much and doesn’t take long. I’m also a little less stressed knowing I did something for myself that day.
I used to buy it from my local CVS, but they stopped carrying it, so now I order a couple at a time from Amazon. You can get the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque here, for under $6.50 (and, with once-a-week treatments, it will last you months).
#3: Deep Tissue Massage
I love massages. I used to say that if I was ever rich, I’d have a massage once a week.
However, I always found that within an hour of a massage, my tightness would come back…and then I’d be upset I spent so much money for short-term relief. Not a cost-effective way to de-stress!
Enter this amazing, portable, cordless massager my husband got me for Christmas:
At $42.99, the TENKER Shiatsu Cordless Neck Back and Shoulder Massager is a steal. It has two different intensities, two directions, a heat function and it’s cordless and portable. And let me tell you, this thing works!
I only like deep tissue massages; the more elbow, the better, IMO. With this massager, I can loop my hands in the front and pull it tight on my neck or back and REALLY get a deep massage. And, you can do it anywhere: on the couch, in your office chair, walking around (although that kind of defeats the purpose of relaxing). Get it…you won’t regret it.
#4: Cleaning or Organizing
Listen, I know we have enough on our plates. But for me, keeping a tidy space helps reduce my stress levels and can be somewhat enjoyable (gasp…don’t tell my family I said this!).
To make the most of my time cleaning or organizing, I do the following:
- Put on some workout clothes, my sneakers and my Apple iWatch. I find that if I get into the mind space that I am burning calories and tightening my tushy while cleaning, I am happier AND work faster.
- Connect my noise-canceling headphones to my phone and listen to my favorite podcasts.
- Get out a garbage bag to gather items in good condition to donate. I do this once a month with my stuff as well as the kiddos’, and it sure makes it easier to let go of things you no longer need, use or can fit into. I divvy up where the items go: books to the library, stuffed animals to a local organization that makes Easter baskets and Christmas stockings for kids in homeless shelters, unopened skincare and makeup products to a women’s shelter, towels and blankets to the animal shelter and clothes to a local pantry where residents in-need can shop.
And yes, this is a free activity too.
#5: The Calm App
Calm is pretty much the only app I pay for and the one I use multiple times a day. A one-month subscription runs $14.99; I purchased a one-year subscription for $69.99 and it’s well worth it.
My husband needs to fall asleep to the TV. My dog will bark at any tiny noise he hears. And, being a paranoid mother, I’ll wake up and run into my girls’ rooms if there is even so much as a muttered word spoken in their sleep.
The only way we can get to and stay asleep is the Calm app. We started by listening to some of the stories and moved on to all-night soundscapes. The stories are fantastic…I think. See, they are all about 25-30 minutes long and I have NEVER made it to the end of one. No matter how hard I try, I’m out cold within a few minutes. My husband usually doesn’t make it past the “Relax-your-neck-and-sink-into-your-pillow” intro.
Recently, I started using the Daily Calm feature which consists of 10 minutes of guided meditation. I’m currently working through the 7 Days of Calming Anxiety series and loving every minute. It almost feels like a treat to have 10 quiet minutes to myself each day!
So, if you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and/or want to work on meditation, Calm is definitely the app for you.
BONUS: Reading While Working Out*
As soon as I wrote this, I figured I would have fitness experts complaining that in order to get a good workout in, you shouldn’t be distracted.
Hear me out.
As my kids got older and busier and my work became more demanding, guess what suffered? My fitness routine.
“Just one more paper to grade.”
“Just one more client document to review.”
“Just one more load of laundry to fold.’
Excuses upon excuses upon excuses.
At the end of the day, I was too exhausted to even think about working out. I wanted to also relax with a good book, but I had no time.
So, one day, I brought my college students’ essays with me to the basement and I hopped on the Peloton to do a scenic ride. Sure, I wasn’t soaking wet with sweat like I typically was after an instructor-led ride, but moving my legs–albeit, at a slower pace–for an hour was a lot better than doing nothing at all.
I am now a regular reader on the elliptical or bike; I am officially the woman I used to side-eye at the gym years ago for not taking her workout seriously. And I really don’t give a crap because now I get uninterrupted time to read while moving my booty every day. Like I said above, it’s better than nothing, and although I do some sort of strength training or yoga several days a week, I’m pretty darn happy with my routine.
*I made this a bonus section because I recognize having gym equipment or access to a gym is not necessarily an inexpensive option for everyone. An option: at little to no cost, you can listen to a podcast or audiobook while walking or running.
I’d love to hear what your favorite, inexpensive ways to de-stress are. Please leave a comment below and share your best tips!
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