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13 Cheap And Easy Ways To Calm Down And Relax

Simple ideas to calm the heck down.

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1. Listen to music that makes you happy.

Sorry, former emo kids, but you aren't going to pull yourself out of a bad mood by wailing away to a sad song. (Or at least, I've never been able to and this study agrees.) Instead, seek out music with an upbeat, happy tempo that you know you won't be able to resist tapping your foot to. If you start to dance, even better. You can start a "mood-boosting playlist" of all your favorites to keep on-hand when you need a lift. If you don't normally listen to upbeat music, ask friends for their suggestions or find a happy-go-lucky, pump-up playlist on a streaming service and download it so that you have it handy. Or even better yet, see some live local music and rock out with your bad self.
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Sorry, former emo kids, but you aren't going to pull yourself out of a bad mood by wailing away to a sad song. (Or at least, I've never been able to and this study agrees.) Instead, seek out music with an upbeat, happy tempo that you know you won't be able to resist tapping your foot to. If you start to dance, even better. You can start a "mood-boosting playlist" of all your favorites to keep on-hand when you need a lift.

If you don't normally listen to upbeat music, ask friends for their suggestions or find a happy-go-lucky, pump-up playlist on a streaming service and download it so that you have it handy. Or even better yet, see some live local music and rock out with your bad self.

2. Listen to some binaural beats.

You can find thousands of free videos on YouTube with binaural beats, which simply means that you're listening to two different frequencies in each ear. (You do need headphones for these.) Because your brain is hearing two different tones, it actually perceives a different, new Hz tone. These can be Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, or Gamma waves. For example, if you want to mediate or do into a deep sleep, Delta or Theta waves are best. If you want to focus and enhance your own cognitive abilities, you'd go for Beta or Gamma waves. For more on how binaural beats work, you can read the National Institute of Health studies here and here.
Martin-dm / Getty Images

You can find thousands of free videos on YouTube with binaural beats, which simply means that you're listening to two different frequencies in each ear. (You do need headphones for these.) Because your brain is hearing two different tones, it actually perceives a different, new Hz tone. These can be Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, or Gamma waves. For example, if you want to mediate or do into a deep sleep, Delta or Theta waves are best. If you want to focus and enhance your own cognitive abilities, you'd go for Beta or Gamma waves. For more on how binaural beats work, you can read the National Institute of Health studies here and here.

3. Bring some calming teas into your life.

I'll be the first to admit that if coffee never left my life, I wouldn't have found my love of tea. But it did, and now I'm a bit of a caffeine-free tea connoisseur (if I do say so myself). What I didn't know then was that tea is so much more than a drink that just tastes good and that each of the herbs used has its own medicinal properties. (I know. SO ignorant.)Where to start with the calming teas? Chamomile tea has been shown to be anti-inflammatory and relaxing, peppermint tea is good for stress relief and digestion, cardamom tea can relive mood swings during menstrual periods, and black tea may "soothe away the stress." You can also opt for a "calming" or "stress relieving" blend that mixes a variety of different herbs together, too. And regardless of how the tea makes you feel, you can always trust your nose, too — if it smells good to inhale and calms you down, then it's probably a good blend for you.
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I'll be the first to admit that if coffee never left my life, I wouldn't have found my love of tea. But it did, and now I'm a bit of a caffeine-free tea connoisseur (if I do say so myself). What I didn't know then was that tea is so much more than a drink that just tastes good and that each of the herbs used has its own medicinal properties. (I know. SO ignorant.)

Where to start with the calming teas? Chamomile tea has been shown to be anti-inflammatory and relaxing, peppermint tea is good for stress relief and digestion, cardamom tea can relive mood swings during menstrual periods, and black tea may "soothe away the stress." You can also opt for a "calming" or "stress relieving" blend that mixes a variety of different herbs together, too. And regardless of how the tea makes you feel, you can always trust your nose, too — if it smells good to inhale and calms you down, then it's probably a good blend for you.

4. Take a bath.

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Not just any bath, though — a bath with purpose. This particular bath is meant to make you feel relaxed. Take a minute or two to think about your most ideal, most comforting bath set-up. Think about all the salts, herbs, essential oils, flower petals, bath bombs, and candles that you can use. Whatever they are, use them to morph your bathroom into your very own stress-free sanctuary. Bonus points for adding epsom salts, as they can help to relieve physical pain and are said to be a great way to release pent up energy.

5. Breathe in some aromatherapy.

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Essential oils have exploded in popularity lately, and before you write them off as something you see being sold all over your Facebook feed, know that there's actually some science behind it all. The International Journal of Drug Development and Research defines the benefits of inhaling essential oils thusly:

Essential oils that are inhaled into the lungs offer both psychological and physical benefits. Not only does the aroma of the natural essential oil stimulate the brain to trigger a reaction, but when inhaled into the lungs, the natural constituents (naturally occurring chemicals) can supply therapeutic benefit. Diffusing eucalyptus essential oil to help ease congestion is a prominent example.

Some great relaxing scents to start with include: lavender, ylang ylang, chamomile, rose, peppermint, sandalwood, lemon, orange, and other citrus fruits (because they can energize and relax you at the same time). And a warning: of course you should always know what you're actually inhaling at all times. Make sure you do your research and buy only the highest quality, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils that aren't cut with any chemicals or unknown ingredients.

Don't have essential oils? You can smell anything that you like, really. Here's a start: fresh cut grass, your favorite candle, the zest of a lemon, your freshest soap, the salty air at the beach, a bouquet of flowers — the list goes on and on!

6. Cook something simple for yourself.

I realize that not everyone finds cooking to be a relaxing experience. If you do, cook yourself a five-course meal and pound that stress away into your dinner! But if you're more of a novice chef, find a recipe that's delicious but simple to make. The point is for you to calm down while working on this food-based project and to feel accomplished with your final product. Why not start with something easy like instant pudding, mac & cheese from a box, pre-made cookies that you only need to slice, a simple soup, or even some ramen noodles? Odds are you'll be breathing a sigh of relief while stirring a pot full of warm and comforting food — and then you get to eat it. Best stress-relieving hobby ever?
Portra Images / Getty Images

I realize that not everyone finds cooking to be a relaxing experience. If you do, cook yourself a five-course meal and pound that stress away into your dinner! But if you're more of a novice chef, find a recipe that's delicious but simple to make. The point is for you to calm down while working on this food-based project and to feel accomplished with your final product. Why not start with something easy like instant pudding, mac & cheese from a box, pre-made cookies that you only need to slice, a simple soup, or even some ramen noodles? Odds are you'll be breathing a sigh of relief while stirring a pot full of warm and comforting food — and then you get to eat it. Best stress-relieving hobby ever?

7. Go for a swim.

Not only do you feel better just by being near a body of water, but hydrotherapy has been proven to relax your body's muscles. There's something to be said for jumping in a body of water and being engulfed by liquid that helps me breathe a sigh of relief. Pools, oceans, lakes, rivers, float tanks... whatever body of water is near you is good enough. Bonus points for heading to the ocean due to the relaxing nature of salt.
Hollie Fernando / Getty Images

Not only do you feel better just by being near a body of water, but hydrotherapy has been proven to relax your body's muscles. There's something to be said for jumping in a body of water and being engulfed by liquid that helps me breathe a sigh of relief. Pools, oceans, lakes, rivers, float tanks... whatever body of water is near you is good enough. Bonus points for heading to the ocean due to the relaxing nature of salt.

8. Tap into your subconscious through self-hypnosis.

According to Grace Smith, Hypnotherapist to the stars and author of Close Your Eyes, Get Free, hypnosis "is actually one of the fastest and most efficient ways to relax deeply and make lasting improvements to your subconscious mind." In fact, this study found that six sessions of hypnotherapy results in an average of 93% improvement for clients (compared to 33% improvement with 600 sessions of psychotherapy). And before you even ask about watches and clucking like a chicken, you should know that self-hypnosis is really a guided meditation with a purpose. Grace told us, "Some people are still confused about what hypnosis truly is (thanks to decades of misrepresentation by Hollywood and stage shows) but in reality, hypnosis is simply 'meditation with a goal' and will leave you feeling deeply calm, safe and relaxed as you improve your life from the inside out." (As someone who practices self-hypnosis regularly and was formerly known as a living ball of human stress, I can attest to this!)
Jgi / Getty Images

According to Grace Smith, Hypnotherapist to the stars and author of Close Your Eyes, Get Free, hypnosis "is actually one of the fastest and most efficient ways to relax deeply and make lasting improvements to your subconscious mind." In fact, this study found that six sessions of hypnotherapy results in an average of 93% improvement for clients (compared to 33% improvement with 600 sessions of psychotherapy).

And before you even ask about watches and clucking like a chicken, you should know that self-hypnosis is really a guided meditation with a purpose. Grace told us, "Some people are still confused about what hypnosis truly is (thanks to decades of misrepresentation by Hollywood and stage shows) but in reality, hypnosis is simply 'meditation with a goal' and will leave you feeling deeply calm, safe and relaxed as you improve your life from the inside out." (As someone who practices self-hypnosis regularly and was formerly known as a living ball of human stress, I can attest to this!)

9. Stretch, stretch, stretch.

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We've been taught to stretch before any kind of intense physical activity since we were kiddos. But the benefits bear repeating. According to Harvard Medical School:

"Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage."

It makes sense when you think about it — and so does the science surrounding why, it seems, your body "absorbs" or "holds onto" the stress inside your head. The American Psychological Association has the following to say on this relationship:

"When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress — the body's way of guarding against injury and pain. Chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders. For example, both tension-type headache and migraine headache are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck and head."

Help to stop the endless stressed-mind-stressed-body cycle and lean into stretching as much as you can. Use your own body to do it, or invest in a yoga mat, stress balls, or a foam roller to level up your practice.

10. Hold on to your pressure points.

If you're looking for a quick and easy way to balance yourself, or if you find acupuncture a little too scary (it's wonderful, promise!), try out some easy acupressure points to help bring you stress relief. This guide from UCLA is a good place to start and this chart will take you through the most popular meridians and points to focus on. How to do acupressure is foolproof: you simply put pressure on certain meridian points on your body and breathe. If you've mastered this already, take your practice to the next level by learning EFT (or tapping) here.
Ryuichi Sato / Getty Images

If you're looking for a quick and easy way to balance yourself, or if you find acupuncture a little too scary (it's wonderful, promise!), try out some easy acupressure points to help bring you stress relief. This guide from UCLA is a good place to start and this chart will take you through the most popular meridians and points to focus on. How to do acupressure is foolproof: you simply put pressure on certain meridian points on your body and breathe. If you've mastered this already, take your practice to the next level by learning EFT (or tapping) here.

11. Stop and smell the roses.

You didn't think you'd make it through this list without a single cliché, did you? Yes, stopping to smell the flowers is great for many reasons, including all of the aromatherapy benefits that we discussed with essential oils earlier. But it's also so nice to have a bright bunch of colors in your home to brighten up your space, or to even spend time in a bed or field of flowers. Try it! You might like it! (Or at the very least, it'll make for a cool Instagram photo!)
Borchee / Getty Images

You didn't think you'd make it through this list without a single cliché, did you? Yes, stopping to smell the flowers is great for many reasons, including all of the aromatherapy benefits that we discussed with essential oils earlier. But it's also so nice to have a bright bunch of colors in your home to brighten up your space, or to even spend time in a bed or field of flowers. Try it! You might like it! (Or at the very least, it'll make for a cool Instagram photo!)

12. Relax with some light-hearted, mindless TV.

I don't want to be the one to break it to you, but if you're in a bad mood or totally stressed maybe it isn't the best time to marathon a murder series or crime show. No offense to television dramas, but sometimes you need to get out of your own emotions, and to do that you need to surround yourself with positive, not stressful things if you are feeling stressed that day!! Try a comedy series, a soothing baking show, a rom-com, a crafting show, or even a documentary on someone you find inspiring. Soon enough you'll be exhaling a deep sigh of relief between your laughs.
Rene Wassenbergh / Getty Images

I don't want to be the one to break it to you, but if you're in a bad mood or totally stressed maybe it isn't the best time to marathon a murder series or crime show. No offense to television dramas, but sometimes you need to get out of your own emotions, and to do that you need to surround yourself with positive, not stressful things if you are feeling stressed that day!! Try a comedy series, a soothing baking show, a rom-com, a crafting show, or even a documentary on someone you find inspiring. Soon enough you'll be exhaling a deep sigh of relief between your laughs.

13. Have a dance party with yourself.

You might think that you're too cool or too grown-up to have a dance party at home by yourself, but I'm here to assure you that you most certainly are not. You don't need to dress up or do anything special besides turn on an upbeat song and get to shimmy-ing. The more intense your moves, the more calories you burn, and the more stress you release — a true win-win!
Arman Zhenikeyev / Getty Images

You might think that you're too cool or too grown-up to have a dance party at home by yourself, but I'm here to assure you that you most certainly are not. You don't need to dress up or do anything special besides turn on an upbeat song and get to shimmy-ing. The more intense your moves, the more calories you burn, and the more stress you release — a true win-win!

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