12 Ways to De-Stress Without Booze, Drugs, or Expensive Spa Trips

You don't need a lot of money to find tools that'll help you manage life in an urban jungle (or office cubicle).

BY Sam Page

April 29 2014 3:00 AM ET

Reducing your appetite for stress is a worthwhile long-term goal for anyone with HIV, according to Andrew Weil, MD, as “stress has been linked to all the leading causes of death, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, accidents and suicide,” and nearly 90 percent of all primary doctor visits are for stress-related problems. But a weekly spa detox is a luxury that many can’t afford. We went hunting to find equally effective self-soothing methods that cost little to nothing.

Outdoor Exercise: When you live in an urban area or have an indoor desk job, you are very likely suffering from “Nature Deficit Disorder,” or NDD.  People with NDD who begin to exercise outdoors in a natural environment become less agitated and have an easier time focusing. (Click here to read more about NDD and take our month-long challenge.)

Indoor Exercise: A full 90 percent of patients experiencing depression would not need therapy if they simply exercised regularly, according to a clinical psychologist with more than 20 years clinical experience (name withheld upon request). Stress, he says, has to go somewhere. Exercise releases the stress and gives you a boost of mood-enhancing endorphins. You can think of it as “natural morphine.” 

Music: Lay off the Coldplay and Adele. Seriously. Keep your beats loud and happy. Research has shown that sad music can produce a low mood, while listening to loud, upbeat music cheers you up and distracts you from negative thoughts. Listening to music during your commute is a great way help you unwind. (Check out the HIV Plus Spotify workout mix here.)

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