Stress can keep us up at night when we should be sleeping, or drive us to get a little snippy with the ones we love. It’s natural to feel stressed out from time to time, but it can take a toll on your body. In fact, researchers have found that stress can contribute to high blood pressure, obesity, and even depression. And while we’d all love to commit to meditating for 20 minutes a day or getting a weekly massage, sometimes it’s just not feasible both financially or time-wise to give yourself a much-needed break. To help you relax a little, we offer 25 ways to de-stress on the cheap for those of us living a compassionate lifestyle. Come on, you deserve it.
1. Collect cute animal pictures. Join Pinterest and start collecting photos of baby panda bears, snuggling lambs, or a sleepy brown cow. Or just take a peek at VegNews’ own Pinterest board of adorable baby animals. One look at a baby polar bear, and you’ll be happy in no time.
2. Try a new vegan dish. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and make the same five meals over and over again. Challenge yourself to try something new. For starters, how about Carrot Ginger Turmeric Soup, 3-Ingredient Banana Pancakes, or a Roasted Lemony Broccoli Rigatoni?
3. Download a meditation podcast. If you find it hard to meditate alone for even 5 minutes, try downloading a free guided meditation podcast. Try the Headspace app to get started and work your way up to 20 minutes of stillness.
4. Sleep in or take a nap. We frequently skimp on sleeping well, but shut-eye will keep your mind and body running in tip-top shape. Plan to sleep in by meal-prepping for the week, or schedule a 30-minute nap this coming Saturday.
5. Make a green smoothie. If you feel tired, try a green smoothie instead of opting for another cup of coffee. Here’s a great guide for creating the perfect fruity concoction. If you prefer something a little sweeter, try this Lean Green Smoothie.
6. Phone a friend. Sometimes just talking about what’s bothering you to a close friend can be the quickest stress buster. A pal’s perspective can remind you that things aren’t as bad as you think.
7. Pet a dog. If you’re lucky enough to have a companion animal, give them a big kiss and love and see their wagging tails and cute wet noses bring a smile at any time of day.
8. Bake. Do you have an awesome vegan brownie recipe? (If not, try this one.) Once you’ve mastered that recipe, try something a little more intricate such as this Almond Orange Cardamom Cake or a Vegan Tiramisu.
9. Give yourself a foot massage. Order these dryer balls and roll them under your feet for a surprising effect. The rubber points will give you a great foot massage and relieve the tension of a long day of walking.
11. Take a tech break. Shut off your smartphone, turn off your computer, and pretend it’s 1988 and the internet doesn’t exist for just one night, 30 minutes, or a whole day. Your mind needs the time off.
12. Make a list. Write down 10 things that make you happy, then try doing one item from your list each day.
13. Craft a vegan cocktail. In the mood for happy hour with your friend or partner? Whip up some fun cocktails and chill out for an hour or two. Try this Blood Orange Margarita or a Ginger-Peach Sangria.
14. Treat yourself. In the wise words of Tom Haverford from Parks & Recreation, “treat yoself.” It doesn’t have to be an expensive treat. Try a bar of vegan chocolate, a bowl of fresh raspberries, or a green juice from a juice stand.
15. Go for a run. Endorphins are a natural stress buster, so lace up your running sneakers and take a 10-minute jog outside. You don’t have to train for a marathon to get exercise’s stress-busting effects.
16. Watch a funny video. The popular viral sensation “Sh*t Girls Say” has a vegan version by Ari Solomon. Watch it once or 10 times. Chuckle. Repeat.
17. Find a vegan cookbook. Browse through vegan cookbooks at an online retailer (bonus points if you order from an indie bookstore!) and find inspiration for new dishes to make or vegan authors to follow. Create a running list of cookbooks to remember for later.
18. Stretch out. In the morning or evening, gently lean your head to the right and then to the left. Touch your toes. Roll your shoulders. Sit down and stretch your legs in a butterfly position. You don’t have to be a yoga expert to gently wake up your body and let go of the tension caused by the day’s activities.
19. Bust out a game. There are many veg-friendly games available for your smartphone. Slice some fruit and become an expert Fruit Ninja, or try our favorite word game—Bananagrams—and gather some friends to make words as fast as you can.
20. Take a free vegan cooking class. Where, you ask? Online. Here is just a sampling of YouTube videos for vegan cooking: Vegan Tofu Scramble, the famous Vegan Black Metal Chef’s Pad Thai, or a Vegan Tuna Sandwich.
21. Try a new vegetable or food. Pick up something new at the grocery store—daikon, jackfruit, Brussels sprouts, chia seeds—find a recipe for it online, and get cooking. Branching out of your comfort zone is a good thing.
22. Dance it out. I’ll admit it—I have dance parties in my living room. Cranking up my favorite song and dancing around makes me forget about the hundreds of things I need to do. For five minutes, it’s a great way to relieve some bottled-up stress.
23. Daydream about a trip to a sanctuary. Vacation-planning for the future should be a must on your list, you can look at amazing locales and make a dream must-visit list for the next few years. Visiting a farm sanctuary should be one of them as a great way to reconnect with your vegan values.
24. Eat clean for a day. With the growing plethora of vegan doughnuts, ice cream, cookies, and cakes, it’s easy to feel sluggish on so much processed food. Take one day (or a week, or a month) and eat cleanly. Eliminate sugar, caffeine, and processed foods and allow your body to rejuvenate.
25. Sip a hot mug of chai. Sometimes just a warm cup of tea is just what I need to relax. If you like chai, mix together your favorite chai tea with some almond milk and heat it up for a soothing sip of spices and black tea, or make your own DIY version. Plus, make these Dirty Chai Sugar Cookie as an added treat!
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