by Laurén Doamekpor
I know none of us are strangers to stress. As a PhD student, I have had more than my share of stress, both chronic and acute ranging from crazy deadlines, fears about the job market, being broke (like, really broke, for the past 4 years), concerns about doing everything well yet still having a joyful life to dealing with less than gracious undergrads.
So when Kara and I were sitting on my couch this Sunday, chatting about the stresses and joys of marriage, she ‘suggested’ I write a post about the ways that I’ve maintained my sanity on a budget. To be honest, when I receive my PhD in Public Health this December, I should also be getting my PhD in de-stressing. It hasn’t always been easy to handle my stress and I don’t always do a good job, just ask my husband. 🙂 But from my research, I know the deleterious impact that unmanaged stress can have on the body.
I’ve learned that simple activities can go a long way and have compiled a list of 7 straight-forward, low-budget but effective ways that I’ve learned to manage my stress:
1. Tune-in: I listen to my favorite fist-pumping, foot-stomping, hair-shaking beats on repeat. Putting on sexiest heels, and my favorite lip-stick and making up dance moves in my mirror helps too. Because when I listen to feel-good tunes, I feel good, and then I do good and that snaps my productivity back into gear, melting my mental anguish.
2. Cook-off: I learn how to cook a new recipe completely out of my comfort zone with only the ingredients I currently have in my fridge. Stress can often run wild when left un-checked. Using the creative side of my brain helps me stay in balance and helps dissipate some of my angst. And I get a delicious meal out of it.
3. Dive-in: I read a book/article/blog/website post that has absolutely nothing to do with what I read on an every-day basis. Much of my research is scientific and can be monotonous. Changing things up and reading a romance novel or a cook-book gives my brain a breather and I come back to my work refreshed and de-stressed.
4. Get loved-on: I spend quality time with the people I love, whether it be by text/phone or in person. There’s nothing like feeling the love and encouragement from people who really care about you and know that they have your back regardless of what you’re going through.
5. Walk it off: I simply walk. Changing my scenery even if it’s a walk to the store or a walk to take the garbage out helps. Endorphins are real. Getting out of my chair and moving gets those feel-good hormones moving as well and even the shortest walk allows me to sweat off those burdens, even if it’s short-term.
6. Candle-it up: Who doesn’t like to smell something good? Candles are my go-to relaxation tools. CVS sells several low-budget, wonderful, sweet-smelling, candles that do the job. Enjoying the simple pleasures of life is sometimes all it takes to alleviate my anxiety.
7. Pray on up: Taking a moment to pray, or meditate, is a simple and powerful tool that can unleash an inner strength that I forgot was within me. It’s easy to forget that God doesn’t give me anything I can’t handle, but so powerful when I remember.
Like I said at the beginning of this post–none of us are strangers to stress. I mean, real, world-ending, tear-jerking stress. But no one deserves to be a slave to it either, especially when seeking professional help may not be in our budgets. These simple steps help me find my center and refocus on my task with renewed energy and fire.
Frugalistas: What simple and budget-friendly things can you capitalize on to help manage your stress?
Laurén Doamekpor is a PhD candidate in Maternal and Child Health and conducts research focusing on race/ethnic health disparities, immigrant health and the link between cultural identity, stress and health. Her current study examines the relationship between identity and health among Black immigrant women.
[info_box type=”alert_box”]If you want to practice self-care, you have to care for your finances. My book, The Happy Finances Challenge, is designed to help you learn to make money decisions that will lead to long-term financial happiness in just 42 days. [/info_box]