7 Ways To De-Stress For Less

Winter doldrums got you down? The empty calendar making you feel blue? Don’t pull family playing in snowout your wallet for some “retail therapy” just yet!

Right now is the time of year when the blues hit the hardest, so many people turn to their favorite foods, a round of shopping or some other costly means of escape. However, you can get the same results without spending a penny. Let [credit union] show you how to de-stress for less and send that down mood packing!

Read on for 7 pick-me-ups that are absolutely free.

1.)  Get moving

If the end of the holidays has you feeling down, haul yourself off the couch and start doing crunches. Hit the treadmill and torch those calories or bundle up and go for a jog outdoors. When you get moving, so do those feel-good endorphins-and the blues won’t stand a chance!

2.)   Listen to some music

Music has always been strongly linked to our emotional state. Slow, classical music played at a low decibel level has a unique calming effect on our minds and our bodies. If that’s not your thing, evoke the power of memory by listening to music that brings you back to a happier time and place, whether that means the pulsing beats you blasted in high school or the sappy tunes you played in the blissful days during your honeymoon.

3.)   Spend time with nature

Don’t spend all winter hunkering under a blanket and waiting for spring. Zip up your parka, grab a warm hat and embrace the cold! There’s nothing like some fresh air to put the zing back in your step.

But it goes deeper than that: Research shows that spending time surrounded by nature can improve your physical well-being, reduce blood pressure and muscle tension, and best of all, it can even cut down on the production of stress hormones! Irina Wen, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist at the Steven A. Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Medical Center, says spending time with nature can also be helpful with combating depression and anxiety.

If you live near a wooded area, you can take nature’s healing power up a notch. “Forest bathing” is the new stress-buster! All it involves is spending time alone in a forested area. A 2010 study found that participants who forest bathed had lower blood pressure and levels of cortisol, aka “the stress hormone,” than those who walked through city blocks. Take a hike in the woods and drop that stress for good!

4.)   Laugh a little

Yes, a good laugh really is the bet medicine. If you’re feeling down, get yourself some of those giggles! Next weekend, invite a friend over and binge-watch your favorite comedy show or sitcom. As you laugh along with the characters on the screen, your tension will slowly melt away.

5.)   Learn a new skill

Boost your confidence and get an instant pick-me-up by learning something new this winter. You can find a DIY tutorial on YouTube for practically any hobby or skill you can dream up, plus loads of those you’ve never thought of before. Become an origami expert, learn a new language, crochet the warmest blanket, or even take up pottery! Have yourself a great time and impress your friends and family with what you (soon) can do. If YouTube doesn’t have what you need, you can also check out Instructables.com, HowCast or VideoJug.

6.)   Pet your pooch

Scientific evidence proves that stress levels in humans decrease when they pet a furry friend. Give your pet a little extra love when you’re stressed and you may just feel the stress slowly fade right out of you. If you don’t own a pet, visit an animal rescue center and spend time with the animals there. You might even come home with a new four-legged friend!

7.)   Soak up some sun

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very real condition that makes people feel blue during the winter months when the days are short and sunlight is scarce. Since sun exposure releases a compound into the blood vessels that reduces stress, insufficient sunlight has a direct effect on our moods.

Kick the SAD this winter by soaking in as much sunshine as you can. Open the shades to let the sunlight in while you work and try to squeeze in an early-morning walk each day so you’re spending time outdoors while the sun is still up. If the skies are cloudy and you’re craving some sunshine, you can try sitting under special UV lamps for the same effect.

Don’t let the winter blues bust your budget. Instead of spending money on expensive and unhealthy escapes, beat the blues with our helpful hacks!

Your Turn: How do you get rid of stress without spending a lot of money? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/your-stories/spending-money-for-comfort/
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm
https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/
https://www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/how-nature-can-solve-life-s-most-challenging-problems-ncna749361
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.gobankingrates.com/saving-money/shopping/free-ways-relieve-stress/amp/
https://www.wisebread.com/20-free-or-really-cheap-ways-to-relieve-stress

Getting Through the Winter Blues

Winter brings cozy fires, happy holidays and fun sports like ice skating and skiing. It can Little girl huddled under a coatalso bring some things that are less welcome. With sunshine being scarce, many people get the winter blues. This depressed state is often made worse by the financial realities of winter, which include higher energy costs and money spent on holiday festivities.

Here are some ways to get proactive and beat the blues before they start.

Budget for Holiday Spending

It might be too late this year, but it is not too early to think about strategies for next year. Consider what you actually have in hand to spend without using credit. Then, make a list of all your holiday expenses. These expenses might include gifts, travel, special foods and entertaining.  Consider a holiday club account to meet those expenses next year.

If you have family or friends you usually exchange gifts with, speak to them about putting a dollar limit on spending. Think of some other ways to celebrate in addition to gift giving. Maybe a holiday potluck would work. Have a family game night. Plan an at-home New Year’s party.

Doing rather than buying can lift your spirits. Psychology professor Tom Gilovich of Cornell University says you’ll be happier and have longer-lasting happiness if you spend your money on experiences instead of things.

Also, consider making your own gifts, because a handmade gift can be more meaningful than something store-bought. Have the whole family participate in making fruitcake or jam. Even the youngest members of the family can help with decorating and wrapping the gifts.

This is a great time to talk with your children about financial realities and budgeting. Instead of making a long list of presents they want, have the kids pinpoint one or two items that are really important to them. Talk to them about the expenses you have and reassure them that there will be plenty of joy even without being overwhelmed with presents.

Keep Warm

Energy costs can be a source of worry. However, there are some things you can do to cut your energy costs.

For starters, check your house to make sure you have enough insulation. Look for places in the house where you may be losing heat, such as loose windows or cracks. You can fill these cracks yourself or hire someone to come in and do it. The money you spend will be recouped quickly in the form of lower heating bills.

Try to keep your thermostat at a lower temperature. Get your family in the habit of wearing sweaters and socks in the house. Small afghans on the couch are attractive and useful for cuddling and keeping warm. Buy some extra blankets for the beds and lower the temperature even more at night.

If it is in your budget, a new programmable thermostat can save you money. You will be able to adjust room temperature according to your schedules, keeping it low when no one is home. You can set the thermostat to kick in more heat before you get home from work, so the house will be warm when you arrive.

Do It Yourself

When the kids are home from school, it’s easy to fall into the trap of keeping them busy by going out for treats — pizza, hot chocolate or a warm meal. Start doing more of this at home. Make a large pot of chili or some cocoa for the family. It’s easy and more fun than bundling everyone up to go out. It will save you both money and time.

In general, you can save quite a bit of money if you have been buying expensive coffee on the way to work or throughout the day. Hone your skills as a barista, brew your own and save a bunch.

Consider Credit Counseling

If you are still feeling blue and think it may be related to your finances, start the new year off with free counseling for members offered by Destinations Credit Union’s partner, Greenpath Financial Wellness. A sure way to beat the winter blues is to get a confident feeling about being on top of your financial wellness. “The more you plan, the less you spend,” says Ellie Kay, a California financial planning expert.

And that can make a world of difference in many areas of your life.

Your turn: Are you feeling down about your financial situation? Does the cold weather have you feeling depressed? What are some strategies you’ve used to combat the winter blues?

SOURCES:
https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/dealing-with-winter-blues-sad.aspx 

https://globalnews.ca/news/2460320/5-ways-to-beat-the-winter-blues-and-stay-happy-beyond-blue-monday/ 
https://www.bankrate.com/finance/debt/7-tips-to-beat-the-post-holiday-debt-blues-1.aspx