I recently came across an article on The Simple Dollar website entitled “Dealing With A Bad Day Without Spending Money.” The author, Trent Hamm, listed 6 things that help him to chill out after a bad day and don’t cost a thing. I was inspired by the suggestions he listed and came up with 13 of my own that are directed toward women.
Men and women often have a completely different idea of what it means to relax at the end of a bad day. My husband enjoys playing X-box to relax, which is the last thing I would consider. The following ideas may appeal to men as well, but I think they tend to have a softer spot for women.
1. Take a bath: Relaxing in a bathtub full of hot water seems to be an ideal place for many women. For those few short moments you get to soak and forget your cares (provided you lock the door). Some bubbles, a bath pillow and a book truly round out this peaceful experience.
2. Play with a pet: Trent’s original list including playing with his children, which is definitely something women enjoy. But for those who do not have kids or their kids are grown, playing with pets is definitely a mood buster. We have a puppy that goes crazy if you pretend to chase her and if I act like I’m about to run after her in the backyard she will run so fast that she’s basically a blur. It makes me laugh every time.
3. Get a massage from your significant other: Of course men probably like this one too, but this definitely helps women de-stress and feel better. I tend to think it’s more rewarding for my husband to massage me than the other way around because his hands are stronger and my back and shoulder muscles aren’t as bulky. However, he doesn’t see it this way though and usually wants a massage in return.
4. Organize a room or closet in your house: I think a lot of women are like me and like to have things around the house organized so you can find things you need when you need them. Whenever I see a closet or a room that is in disarray it stresses me out. But when I actually take the time to clean and organize that area, it brings me peace. Just recently I cleaned out and organized our pantry and now every time I walk by it and I open the door to look at how clean and nice it looks and it makes me feel better. This same thing goes for your car. It can be very stressful driving around in a car that is full of garbage, pine needles, dirt, food crumbs, pet hair, jackets, gloves, or whatever can manage to find its way in there. But when your car is clean and vacuumed it becomes a serenity mobile of sorts.
5. Go to the park: Sometimes it’s nice just to get out and get some air. If I’m in the house too long I often get cabin fever. I like to go to local parks with enjoyable scenery and just walk around or sit and take in the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Sometimes it is just what I need to clear my mind of what is bothering me. If it’s cold outside, be sure to bundle up. Just don’t go to the mall and walk around because there are often too many spending temptations there.
6. Watch something funny on TV: My favorite TV show is Friends and even though the show is not on the air anymore (except for reruns) my husband and I own the entire series on DVD. This show never fails to make us laugh even though we’ve probably seen each episode at least 4 times and can recite the lines before the characters say them. Laughter is good for the heart and soul so whatever makes you laugh- watch or listen to it to help you feel better again.
7. Send someone an encouraging e-mail or letter: It’s amazing how trying to make someone else feel better often makes you feel better in the process. I know the last thing you want to do when you are having a bad day is call someone and pretend to be cheery, but that is why I suggested writing a letter or an e-mail. You can say the most encouraging and nice things on e-mail even if you don’t feel like being encouraging and nice. Just an effort to brighten someone’s day can often be the thing that brightens your own. If you don’t want to write an e-mail or a letter, you can send an e-card. Many of them are free to send. My personal favorite e-cards are these two Hallmark cartoon characters named Hoops and Yoyo. They have the most hilarious e-cards (well for my sense of humor at least).
8. Eat a piece of chocolate or something sweet: This one is my first instinct when I’m having a bad day — and it tends to be for more women than men. Somehow a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie or a brownie can lift my spirits. I know this one is physical too because the elevated blood sugar gives you endorphins, but sometimes indulging your taste buds just gives you the smile you need. Of course if you’re trying to diet and save money, you might want to skip this one.
9. Play a game: I mentioned above that my husband likes to play X-box to be in a better mood. My kind of game is more along the lines of something that comes in a box and has dice. I enjoy board games and more often than not, when I play them I end up smiling quite a bit. I really enjoy the game Cranium because it is interactive (and can be goofy), which causes more laughter.
10. Watch a classic movie: There are certain classic movies that really take me back and give me warm fuzzies. A few such movies for me are Gone With The Wind, Anne of Green Gables, and The Sound of Music. Getting wrapped up in a storyline from a movie like one of these takes you away and helps you relate to the emotions of the character. Even current feel-good movies can accomplish this too.
11. Create a new recipe from items in your pantry, refrigerator and/or freezer: Get your creative juices flowing by coming up with something new from things you already have. It won’t cost you any money because these items are already in your kitchen, but it will help you focus on something else besides what’s bothering you. And problem solving helps engage your brain to not only solve your current dilemma (what do I make with what I have) but also other dilemmas in your life.
12. Kickbox: Pretty much any form of exercise will help you feel better, but something intense like kickboxing can help you channel any anger or nervous energy you may have. This form of exercise is empowering too because it helps you to feel stronger and more confident as you kick and punch with precision. Plus, it’s just fun.
13. Review or update financial goals: In Trent’s original list, he noted that just by realizing that he wasn’t spending extra money to make himself feel better, he already felt a little better. By looking over your financial goals and what you are working toward, you will feel better about the fact that you are not spending needless money to try to feel better. However, if after looking over your goals, you see that you haven’t made a lot of progress, be careful not to go spend money because you feel worse. Remind yourself how you got to where you are now (whether good or bad) and why you want to change and get further.
We’ve all made an impulse purchase at sometime or another to try and soothe a broken heart or a bad day, but when we make a purchase we can’t afford, we end up feeling worse instead of better. The next time you have a bad day try to do one of these free alternatives to help turn your frown upside down.