When you’re at work, you have assigned projects that need to be finished within a certain time with the help of colleagues geared toward the same goals, for which you are rewarded with pay.
When you’re at home, however, you have an infinite list of repetitive tasks and major projects divided unequally among often resistant family members for which your efforts are barely acknowledged and at best rewarded with a verbal “thanks.”
Framed like this, it’s no surprise that a recent study out of Penn State revealed that people are actually more stressed at home than at work—especially if you’re a woman. Since high levels of persistent stress can lead to serious physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms, learning ways to soothe your stress at home is vital. Check out these free or inexpensive ways to take a chill break.
Pound The Pavement
Removing yourself from the immediate source of stress is always a good first step to lowering your blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels. A long hike through the neighborhood, a nearby park, or a wooded trail may calm you down enough to move from an emotional state to one where you can think clearly enough to measure the value of various solutions to any stressful home situation. Integrating a half-hour to a forty-five-minute walk into your daily routine is also a healthy habit for the long term.
Play With Your Pet
For years, therapy pets have been used in nursing homes and in rehabilitation facilities as a way to lower stress levels and promote healing. Universities routinely bring in hordes of puppies during finals week to help students cope with high-stakes testing pressure. Spending a little one-on-one time with a purring cat on your lap or running around your backyard with the family dog may be just the therapy you need.
Soak In Some Sun
If the weather complies, spending a half-hour or more lying in the sun has multiple beneficial effects. First, closing your eyes and concentrating on a simple pleasure may help calm the swirling thoughts that are consuming your attention. Second, the extra vitamin D that is made while sunbathing helps boost an immune system that may be battered by stress. Third, studies show that sunbathing lowers your blood pressure which means you’ll be calmer when you’re done.
Pen Your Problems
One major source of home stress is the overwhelming multiplicity of tasks that must be done on a regular basis combined with larger projects that need to be done over time. Grappling with the immediate demands while trying to push forward a more long-term agenda can make you feel like you never get anything done, especially if the sharing of the load is uneven.
Consider setting aside a few hours on a weekend to make a list of these tasks as well as breaking down the larger ones into smaller parts. The act of writing itself may have a purgative effect on your stress. The list created can also be a baseline through which you can delegate discrete, specific, and non-overwhelming tasks to other family members, thus easing the workload on you.