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

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

    woman vacuuming

    "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

    woman frosting cupcakes

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

  • Play Ms. Pac-Man


    "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

    woman hiking

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

  • See a Movie Alone

    woman at movie theater

    "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 

    woman putting on concealer

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

  • Focus on Being Fully Present 

    woman pushing baby carriage

    "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 

    infrared sauna

    "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 

    salt room

    "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 

    woman coloring book

    "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 

    woman rolling a joint

    "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 

    woman doing a puzzle on the floor
    "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 

    woman doing ropes at gym

    "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 

    Woman looking at smartphone

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

  • Go to the Beach

    woman at the beach

    "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

    woman sleeping

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

  • Study Genealogy 

    woman looking at old photos of relatives

    "I love to immerse myself in someone else’s life and history, and it just helps me recharge and refocus." -- Rebekah K. 

  • Pleasure Yourself 

    woman having an orgasm

    "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 

    youtube on phone

    "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

    tarot cards

    "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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