(Last Updated On: March 9, 2022)

We’re all about saving money over here at the Urban Veg. Eating healthy is one way to keep your wallet in check, but it’s not the only way. Learning how to reduce our stress also saves money in ways we don’t often think about. Stress can cause mood changes, difficulty concentrating, poor eating habits and more. This can get expensive over time with higher healthcare costs, less productivity at work and more.

Healthy Eating Isn’t the Only Way to Better Health

Moving to Taiwan brought some of our first extremely stress-induced days. Missing family and friends, financial instability, being in a new country with language and cultural barriers. I personally thought I could ‘healthy eat’ my way out of the low days I felt during this time. I was eating as healthy as I ever have, but I was still down pretty often. It was an eye-opening experience. Although high impact activities, especially running, have always been my go-to for stress relief, after getting injured at the gym running wasn’t an option. I really didn’t feel like running some days either. I needed a new game plan to reduce my stress and calm down.

I turned to Instagram and did a poll in my stories to learn the low-impact techniques other people use for stress relief. I also asked why they used them. The answers were even more creative and personal  than I could have imagined. I’d heard some of these before, but understanding the deeper meanings behind them really struck a chord for me. They have been huge in our transition and gave us new go-to activities for the future.

Check out their suggestions and the reasons they work so well for them below! How do you reduce stress?

1. Listen or Dance to House Music

I loved this beautiful recommendation from Jeff of boldplantbasedsoutherntaiwan. It’s amazing how personal stress relief can be, and how it can tie back to our memories. A great example of how positive nostalgia can bring peace. Here’s what Jeff had to say:

“I was introduced to House via the local gay scene which was around the time I first started coming out to a few people. Going to clubs and house parties with my friends became a pivotal weekly event in my life. After growing up in a conservative Christian cult, it was the happiest I’d felt in my life. I’ve also had major anxiety issues and am a pretty extreme introvert. I finally felt accepted and free to be myself in that environment. From that point on, EDM has had the ability to lift me out of a gloomy state and emotionally transport me back to when I finally discovered myself and felt genuinely happy for the first time.

When I was diagnosed with cancer and throughout failed treatments, putting on a mix allowed me to escape from the reality of the situation long enough to face it again without completely coming apart. The repeated melodies, the sure and steady, fast repeated beats, the bass, the drops…perhaps because they are very predictable and repeated…ground me in a way that nothing else does.

I’ve come to realize that anything can become a meditation. The crux of meditation is training the mind not to let every random thought pull one this way and that. It’s about gaining the ability to observe thoughts as they arise, sometimes getting caught in them, but then being able to just let them pass by and then gently going back to the object of one’s meditation, whether this be the breath or the beat of an electronic drum. The problem with meditation is thinking it’s some magical solution to all problems in and of itself, believing that it works for everyone and most importantly making it into some mystical, transcendental spiritual experience that connects one to an imaginary being or consciousness. It’s none of that–it’s just mind training.”

2. Baking

I haven’t baked anything in a long time – and I used to bake a ton! Eva of thecuriouschickpea has given me the motivation to get back to it with her reply. Not only do the breads, desserts and baked goods she makes look incredible, they give her stress relief. Let’s find out why:

“I love baking to relieve stress. There’s something ritual about baking, whether it’s kneading bread dough and waiting for it to rise, stacking cakes to decorate, or scooping out bite-sized portions of cookie dough. It’s easy to get lost in the task and it gives me a sense of control.

The scientist in me finds it fascinating how relatively small changes to flour, water, salt, yeast, fats and sugar can produce such varying results. From sourdough, scones, sweet and savory buns, pies, cakes, cookies, to crumbles…the list is endless!

Tackling new or familiar projects gives me a chance to focus on something besides my stress. Plus, now that I’m a food blogger I get to call procrastinating (i.e. procrastinating with backing) work, haha.

And while baking doesn’t get rid of the external stressors, it certainly makes it easier to face them with freshly baked goods to enjoy!”

3. Painting and Crafting

Felipe, dmvegan reminded me to get back in touch with my creative side. When’s the last time you painted or did a craft? I know it’s been quite a while for me and I think I need to order a coloring book, stat. Here’s why he says it’s so important:

“My go-to activity to relieve stress is to paint or do some crafting. Painting and crafting diverts my attention from my anxieties to something I have complete control over.  I am not a master painter or crafter so I put my full attention when I’m creating something. Doing so removes the burden of my worrying thoughts and focuses them on what I’m making or painting at that moment.”

4. Yoga/ Stretching

For people who are used to high impact to release stress, it can be easy to steer clear of low impact activities. But it can help us get out of our heads and be more grounded. Jen, lostamongtrees explains why:

“Yoga helps me relax in so many ways. We live in such a cerebral society and I easily get caught up in my head. Yoga helps me drop back into my body, ground down, and be present. When I’m in flow, there’s nowhere else I need to be or anything I need to be doing in that moment. It is a precious space to hold. After a while, I feel my body and mind open up, relax and slow down.”

5. Meditation/ Calm App

In our fast-paced society, it can seem like a hassle to slow down and heal the mind and body through alternative methods. Nor is it widely accepted. Becky of @littlebuddhasprague gives us pause to consider these and think about less costly health care practices. I’m not a doctor or giving any medical advice, but I am a huge advocate of considering alternative healing practices and their benefits. More from Becky below:

“After I learned more about my injury and found out I would probably need surgery, I meditated to ask for a solution to heal myself instead of accepting this as my truth. This lead me to seek advice from my yoga teacher in my Yoga Teacher Training. In turn, she lead me to a movie called ‘Heal’l. In this movie, they talk about how expressing gratitude on a daily basis can combat fear. So I decided to create a daily practice that revolves around leaning into my fears.

Although I can meditate by myself, a few people recommended an app called ‘Calm’. I started using it twice a day. There are daily meditations that help you set intentions for the day, or a whole variety of meditations on different topics such as working on yourself, kindness, gratitude, etc. I also started writing a gratitude journal every night before I go to sleep.

This app really helps you stay consistent because it tracks your meditations in a calendar, it can send you daily mindfulness reminders, and overall help you on your journey to prioritize self care and create a program of calmness in your body. After almost 4 months of this practice, I’ve healed myself. So I think with consistency through meditation, calming your body and gratitude you can heal your mind and body of any illness you are fighting.

6. Tuning Forks

I’ve heard about tuning forks a few times, but haven’t given them much thought. They sounded too new-agey. But, learning from Jina foodonthebrayon and how tuning forks help her health condition and was so intriguing. Just think about what this area of healing could do for all of us. I did more research after reading her explanation (below) and I’m ready to see a professional in this area soon!

“I learned about these because I’ve seen the healing benefits of vibrations. I have Tinnitus and the tuning fork provides quick relief from the humming I hear. I use it both to just hear the vibrations and also feel the vibrations through my bones. One day I look forward to doing it with a professional or trying a Tibetan sound bowl session.”

7. HRV Breathing

Jina of foodonthebrayon also recommended HRV Breathing, which I also had no idea about. Her friend Calico of calico_calaman has a lot of knowledge on the subject and sent me the below video for a good background and the science on the subject. This is a great one to use all day!

“HRV is like a mini meditation. I normally do it between 2-5 minutes at a time, a few times a day. It’s great to focus me, bring my heart rate down if I’m upset or too excited or anxious.

Check out part 1 of the 3-part HRV video series: https://youtu.be/q06YIWCR2Js

A Few Additional Ideas

I received a few other ideas from multiple people that are definitely worth mentioning. My personal thoughts on each are included.

8. Soul Cycle

I haven’t been to Soul Cycle yet, but I need to get to a class.cycling and forget it as an alternative to running that makes you sweat but isn’t hard on your body. This article by Hello Giggles gives her perspective and completely drew me in. Picture a dark studio where you get to completely focus in on yourself and not be concerned about others around you. Loud music, an empty mind and challenging your body. And, it’s another way to sweat it out without using your arms or having a high impact on body. And music is a great stress reducer.

9. Cleaning

If you’ve never taken your frustration out on dirty dishes, you’re missing out. This is definitely one I can relate to. It’s not just for times of high-stress. It can be used on a regular basis to zone out out and feel productive. Cleaning provides instant gratification and a clean house can make us feel more organized and productive.

10. Walking

When I wasn’t able to run from my injury, walking still gave me a low-impact way to get outside and release energy. I always felt better after a walk around our local lake. But why? My Dad sent me this insightful article on the science behind getting outside and changes to our brains. Cue boosting creative problem solving, reducing depression, better focus away from noise and disruptions, and so much more. Make time to get outside on a regular basis and reap the benefits of these positive brain impacts.

I hope you get some benefit out of these alternative stress relief methods. Tell me, what are your favorite ways to relax? Comment below or tag me at The Urban Veg on Instagram or Facebook!