Ideal for those looking to let off some steam at home in the coming months.

If the experts are to be believed, a Winter of discontent approaches. As if the colder months weren’t already gloomy enough, we now have to contend with a global pandemic, civil unrest and a government managing it all in the worst way possible. 

Lockdown 2.0 looms, and as such, we’re going to be spending a lot more time indoors in the coming months. With pent up energy needing an outlet, it can sometimes be tough to stay laid back and chilled out at home, when the world outside is going so wrong. Fortunately, there are methods and means available to you to reduce stress which don’t cost a penny. Here are 5 free stress relief strategies for Winter 2020, IDEAL for those looking to let off some steam at home in the coming months.

BREATHING EXERCISES

Stop what you’re doing. Take a deep, lengthy inhale through your nose. Count to five, letting it flow deep down into your belly. Now exhale. Aaaahhhh.  

Are you feeling a little more relaxed already? Breathing exercises, simple and easy to do at home and for free, are one of the most effective ways to relax, immediately taking you out of a stressful situation and allowing you to realign your focus and regain some perspective. You can do them standing up, sitting down, lying on your bed…yep, the possibilities are endless.

If you’re looking to take things further, then gifting yourself ten minutes each day to sit in silence and practice breathing can also work wonders in beating stress. We’re big fans of guided meditation apps, which help give you the tools to tackle stressful situations with confidence, with most of the key players offering free versions during this time of crisis. 

IDENTIFY TRIGGERS & PRACTICE GRATITUDE

‘’Prevention is better than cure’’ is an adage certainly applicable to stress reduction, but the cure often lies in the application of hindsight, too. It’s important to identify occasions, interactions and events which have triggered stress in the past, or do so habitually, so as to give yourself the tools to avoid such triggers in the future. Keeping a diary of the event, the time, and how it made you feel can help you move forward in a more informed way in the future. 

Speaking of diaries, another proactive step you can take to mitigate stress and gain some perspective is by keeping a gratitude diary, jotting down things you appreciate about your life each day. Usually done in threes, at the start or end of the day, doing so has been posited by scientists to have a marked, positive impact on your wellbeing.

SIMPLE STRETCHES

Lock those fingers together, and push outwards, upwards and towards the sky. Doesn’t that feel better? Who doesn’t find at least a little tension released when stretching their hands skyward? Pair it with a groan and maybe an exaggerated yawn, and suddenly the world feels a slightly brighter place. 

Well, unsurprisingly, stretching has been shown to reduce tension, with scientists believing that it stimulates receptors in the nervous system known to decrease the production of stress hormones.

We’ve written a guide to our favourite 5 favourite stretches to help you relax after a long day, but if you’re keen to take it further, then a daily yoga practice can also really help to reduce stress, combining those breathing exercises we already mentioned with the power of stretching and poise. Talk about killing two burdensome birds with one stone!  

Some of the best free yoga classes available currently which can be done from the comfort of home are found on YouTube, and include Yoga with Adriene and Fightmaster Yoga, as well as via Yome (yoga at home, geddit?), which collates hundreds of the best YouTube yoga videos into one easily accessible platform. Namaste! 

SEX & SELF LOVE

A stress reliever which is fun, a form of exercise and free? Sign us up! Yep, the benefits of regular sex are documented often, with doing the dirty praised for lowering blood pressure, improving the immune system, reducing the risk of heart disease, increasing a feeling of closeness with your partner and, you guessed it, reducing stress in both a physical and emotional sense.  

Should you be spending Winter alone, or simply prefer your own company, then you can still avail yourself of some of the benefits of regular sex by practicing self love, in both the most euphemistic and literal sense. Indeed, masturbation releases dopamine and oxytocin, which can reduce stress causing cortisol levels. So invest in some sex toys for women and check out this guide on how to use sex toys for some useful pointers and explore the sheer range of stress relief assistance out there available to you. 

WALK ON THE SPOT

We’ve perhaps saved the best ‘till last. Time and time again it’s been said that exercise is the ultimate stress reliever, with aerobic, repetitive exercise in particular praised for countering depression and dissipating stress. 

Of course, options for cardio exercise are somewhat limited should the nation enter a second lockdown (and the weather is as inclement as usual!), but you can still complete aerobic exercise from the comfort of home. Even a brisk walk on the spot, as long as it raises the heart rate and makes finishing your sentences a struggle, is enough to release those endorphins and counter stress.