It’s time once again for a round of someone was wrong on the internet and I must fix it! This time it’s not about parenting or even politics (we’ll address that on Friday for a special version of my Friday six-pack) but rather a topic that’s near to me this month…money. You know. Because of the spending freeze.
Anyway, I somehow came across this post about cheap ways to destress. I totally get his sentiment and the point he’s attempting to make but I’m not quite sure he understands what he’s saying. For instance, have you ever replaced a shower head? First of all, if you want one that’s halfway decent, it’s not going to be cheap (well, I mean, maybe it is depending on your definition of “cheap” which, admittedly, is pretty subjective) and also not fun to install. Especially if you’re short like I am. It winds up being the EXACT definition of stress rather than a way to destress. However, you know what IS a cheap way to destress? TAKING A SHOWER. Or a bath, if you’re into that. (I am not. Taking a bath is the equivalent of marinating in your own dirt. NO THANK YOU).
Or how about hiring someone to clean your house or apartment? Maybe as a one-off but on a regular basis that shit adds up. Same with subscription services and grocery delivery and massages and mani/pedis and pretty much everything on his list. Yes, as a temporary relief, these are great choices provided you have the extra money laying around to spend on these little luxuries. Unfortunately, a lot of people do not.
And, if I’m being honest, the list he gave shows his privilege. Particularly the phrase “Enjoy the knowledge that your upgraded standard of living is actually saving you money.” It’s such a loaded sentence I legit don’t even know where to begin picking it apart. I’m not even sure I want to for fear I won’t be able to stop. But I will say this: the danger of lists like this one is that it doesn’t advocate doing things you can afford; it merely advocates buying smaller things to prevent a larger, more expensive purchase. Some people might read it as justification to put a massage on a credit card or use money designated for savings to throw a party instead. That opens up a Pandora’s box of bad choices and financial missteps that can cause even more problems.
Because upgrading your standard of living does not automatically mean a relief of stress. In many instances, and for many people, it actually brings more because one upgrade snowballs into two then into three and so on. And the little things can, after awhile, add up to the cost of the one item you were trying to avoid. It becomes self-defeating (and debt inducing). So, maybe, if you want the big thing, get the big thing and stay away from the little ones. It’s sort of like when you have a craving for a donut. You don’t want to eat the donut because, although delicious, donuts are calorie laden. So instead of eating the donut, you eat 45 other foods that leave you unsatisfied and still craving a donut and you’ve consumed about 34 times more calories than if you had just eaten the donut.
Sometimes, JUST EAT THE FUCKING DONUT. It’ll be better for you in the long run.
Now, I’m not saying run out and buy a new car if you can’t afford your rent but if you need a car to get to work so you can keep your apartment and the car is causing you stress and you’re spending more money in repairs than if you would just get a new car, then get a new to you car. Set a budget. Comparison shop. And get a new car. That will help destress your life. Maybe it’s not the cheapest way but have you ever dealt with car stress? It sucks and can absolutely impact your quality of life, particularly if you live somewhere (like I do) that doesn’t have reliable or accessible public transportation and you need to get around.
I 100% guarantee that sometimes and in certain situation getting a new car eliminates stress more than a latte.
That said, let’s bring it back around to his initial idea of cheap ways to destress which, as we’ve covered, are not necessarily cheap. I mentioned one alternative to his ideas: taking a bath or shower.
Here are a few other ACTUALLY cheap ideas to destress:
- READ. Obviously this is my first choice.
- Get outside. Too cold to go out? Watch a sunrise or sunset or a snowfall or listen to the rain. Nature is relaxing.
- Talk to someone who makes you laugh. I love my friends who make me laugh and somehow they know exactly when I need them. See also: catch up with someone you haven’t talked to in awhile.
- Pet an animal. There’s all kinds of studies that show animals lower blood pressure and keep you calm and are good for your mental health. So, if you can (and you’re not afraid or allergic), pet a dog or cat or guinea pig or whatever.
- Take a day off. Stop hustling, stop working, stop thinking, stop doing anything that is causing you stress. Disconnect from everything for a day and do whatever the fuck you want.
- Make time for something that relaxes you that you rarely make the time to do. Knit, bake cookies, scrapbook, color, watch your favorite movie, play a board game, throw a football…whatever. The possibilities are endless.
- Get something to take care of. Specifically, a plant or fish or a hermit crab or something else cheap and small and easy to maintain. Maybe this is more for mental health (as in, having something to take care of gives you purpose and helps get you through the day) but it still works.
- Light candles, drink coffee or tea, and sit still, without electronics, for 15 minutes.
- Listen to music. Music is cathartic. It allows you to feel all the emotions. You can have angry songs or dancing songs or songs that make you happy or sad songs. Music can match your mood and sometimes, it understands exactly what you need more than anything.
This is not a comprehensive list or all-inclusive or even original. It’s mostly common sense but I guess we all sometimes need a reminder that you don’t have to spend money to alleviate stress in your life.
How do you guys destress?