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 Fresh Spring Rolls, Avocado Pesto Pasta, or a Mexican Tortilla Bake?
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 themeditationpodcast.com to get started and work your way up to 20 minutes of “one” time.
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 getting your lunch ready the night before, or schedule a 15-minute nap this coming Saturday.
5. Go for 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 Green Goddess 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. Walk a dog. Find a local shelter or a rescue group and volunteer to walk a dog one afternoon. These dogs are craving companionship, and their wagging tails and cute wet noses can bring a smile any time of day.
8. Contribute to a vegan bake sale. Do you have an awesome vegan brownie recipe? (If not, try this one.) Bring it to a vegan bake sale, or start your own. Donate the sales to your favorite animal rescue group or sanctuary, and make the world a little bit sweeter.
9. Give yourself a foot massage. Pick up 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. Attend a Vegan Drinks event. Happy hour drink specials and the company of like-minded folks is an instant good time. There are vegan drinks events in New York City, Dallas, and San Francisco, among other cities. Find one in your area here. Can’t find one in your area? Start your own chapter!
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. Wander down the vegan cookbook aisle of a book store. Flip through vegan cookbooks 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. Plan a trip to a sanctuary. Vacation-planning should be a must on your list, because if you don’t sit down and plan a vacation, you might never take one. Visiting a farm sanctuary is 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 Oregon Chai’s Vegan Chai with some almond milk and heat it up for a soothing sip of spices and black tea, or make your own DIY version.