Moms Share Their Surprising Stress-Relievers That Cost Next to Nothing

Moms Share Their Surprising Stress-Relievers That Cost Next to Nothing
Image: VeraPetruk/iStock

tarot cards
VeraPetruk/iStock

Forever, but especially these days, any and every mom will say she has an absolutely full plate. Sure, every family handles the to-dos differently, but in plenty of households, moms who are part of even the most egalitarian partnerships find themselves overwhelmed with a laundry list of chores and errands, from school dropoff to school pickup, Target runs, meal prep to running the nightly bedtime routine. Moms are constantly on the go, and as a result, are constantly trying to carve out at least a little self-care time. 

So naturally, it's no wonder most mothers are perpetually on the hunt for the most effective stress-relieving methods out there.

For some moms, a glass of wine and a good book will cut it. Others find their go-to is a bath, their favorite music, a run, a yoga class, or curling up on the couch, snuggling up with the family pet and zoning out while watching Friends or Sex & the City episodes they've seen time and again. And all of these stress-relievers are smart bets, no doubt. 

But some moms have found -- and now find they lean on -- less commonly mentioned strategies for mellowing out. They're the kinds of activities that may seem quite simple, like being more mindful and soaking in the moment during a walk in the park with their LO or heading to a movie solo. But they're also the kinds of methods that society isn't as quick to suggest, like doing a certain type of puzzle or taking a time out for self-pleasure. Here, 20 moms reveal the surprising stress-reliever they swear by.

  • Vacuum

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    woman vacuuming
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    "I vacuum my floors! There is just something calming about having a clean floor! Seems counterproductive if you're stressed, but it works for me every time! I always feel better after, and can feel like I can relax easier after it's done! " -- Megan S.

  • Decorate Cupcakes

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    woman frosting cupcakes
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    "I like decorating cupcakes or cookies when I’m stressed. Preferably after a few glasses of wine -- really!" -- Meg J. 

  • Play Ms. Pac-Man

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    Pac-Man
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    "I love playing Ms. Pac-Man. Crazy thing is, it started before a flight years ago -- when you couldn’t get Wi-Fi on a plane -- when I downloaded it to my phone and played. It was just a fun and easy way to check out and give myself something to do on a plane. Well, here I am, years later, still playing on occasion when I just need to check out. Other time-wasters take so much time or easily lure me in to wasting way more time than I wanted, like Facebook/Instagram, videos, shows. Those can really suck my energy and require more time than I want to spend, whereas playing Ms. Pac-Man is over after a couple rounds. I’m not very good no matter how much I play! And then I'm ready for whatever is next in my day." -- Apryl C.

  • Do Something Grounding

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    woman hiking
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    "Something physical like a hike in nature is a stress-reliever that feels very grounding." -- Alli S. 

  • See a Movie Alone

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    woman at movie theater
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    "Anything that involves not having to talk to people. I love going to the movies alone. I think being a mom who always has to be 'on' for everyone has turned me into a bit of an introvert." -- Jessica N. 

  • Watch Makeup Tutorials 

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    woman putting on concealer
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    "I like to give myself a pedicure, and watch YouTube makeup tutorials." -- Jaime L. 

  • Focus on Being Fully Present 

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    woman pushing baby carriage
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    "Assuming I’m in a situation where I can’t walk away from my 6-month-old, taking him for a walk in a nice park changes my outlook on just about any stressful situation. There’s something about being outside with no headphones, and being fully present, that helps immensely." -- Lauren G. 

  • Sit in an Infrared Sauna 

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    infrared sauna
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    "I sit in an infrared sauna, which is a detox treatment. I usually read a book that just allows me to relax. I won’t read anything serious." -- Loni S. 

  • Chill Out in a Salt Room 

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    salt room
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    "The salt room is meditative and helps with respiratory problems, allergies, asthma, sickness. It’s dark and plays really calm soothing music, blankets so you're cozy, and you sit in a zero-gravity recliner, so it almost feels like you’re floating. I know that my mental clarity is important to being a good mom, so I make me time a priority. After I drop the kids at school, I’ll go or I’ll trade babysitting with a friend to allow me a moment to get away." -- Loni S. 

  • Color 

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    woman coloring book
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    "Coloring is a big stress-reliever for me. Sometimes I sit alongside my kids when they are working on coloring books and join in. There's something about putting crayons to paper that helps clear my mind." -- Emily G. 

  • Enjoy Cannabis 

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    woman rolling a joint
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    "I smoke cannabis, both THC and CBD. It's relaxing to the body and also the mind, but in addition to that it helps with pain management. I have chronic pain, so smoking allows me to do more with my son. I've never felt impaired by it, unless that was the goal, like before bed." -- Caitlin S. 

  • Do a Puzzle 

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    woman doing a puzzle on the floor
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    "I started doing them when I was pregnant, because I had a ton of stress at work and knew that I needed to stay as calm as I could! They are calming, for me, because it helps me forgot about everything going on around me, and I can just focus on the pieces. I have always been a visual person, so it keeps me challenged while also providing my sense of calm. I usually do them in the evenings after my 2-year-old goes to bed. Instead of decompressing with TV or something else, my husband created a separate space in our office just for me to work on my puzzles. And I do all different types of puzzles. My largest I have done is a 2,000-piece puzzle, but I have done photomosaic puzzles, 3D puzzles, etc., etc." -- Lauren L.
  • Do a Challenging Workout 

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    woman doing ropes at gym
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    "When I feel like I'm going to lose it and need to remember who I am outside my mom role, I'll pawn the kids off on my partner and head to a Zumba class or treat myself to a super-hard CrossFit type workout with my favorite trainer." -- Megan Z.

  • Look at Real Estate Listings 

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    Woman looking at smartphone
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    "Scroll through Redfin and look at houses!" -- Jeannine J.

  • Go to the Beach

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    woman at the beach
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    "There is nothing like playing going to the beach right before sunset and getting a dose of sea air." -- Kristen M.

  • Hire Child Care to Get Your Zs

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    woman sleeping
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    "Hire a sitter -- and sleep!" -- Ericka P. 

  • Study Genealogy 

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    woman looking at old photos of relatives
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    "I love to immerse myself in someone else’s life and history, and it just helps me recharge and refocus." -- Rebekah K. 

  • Pleasure Yourself 

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    woman having an orgasm
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    "Keep it simple as not to stress. A stolen moment alone in my room. No toys. Just fingers. It really helps clear the mind. And it helps with headaches." -- Michele Z.

  • Watch Pimple-Popping Videos 

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    youtube on phone
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    "I watch Dr. Pimple Popper videos. After the mental Olympics of raising kids, sometimes I enjoy something mindless and really satisfying, like watching Dr. Sandra Lee rid people of their evil cysts and blackheads!" -- Lauren H.

  • Read Tarot

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    tarot cards
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    "I love lighting incense and a candle and getting out the old tarot cards. It gives me the chance to slow down and check in with myself and how I'm feeling, what I want to accomplish, what I need more of in my life -- and less. It's a nice reminder that there's more to the universe than all the things that stress me out on a daily basis!" -- Jacqueline C. 

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