100 Ideas on How to Reduce Anxiety with Little Cash and Limited Time


Easy ways to reduce anxiety & manage stress


What gets in your way of being able to manage stress?


While I was running a stress management group in a hospital, inevitably the consensus that made managing stress difficult was:

a.) Not having enough time and

b.) Not having enough money. 

So taking away those constraints, I challenged patients to explore reducing stress under 45 minutes and for less than $10.00.  For creative problem solving everyone made magazine collages to explore possibilities.  By the end of one hour, not only did patients have new ideas for reducing their stress, but they were able to benefit from the group’s collective ideas.  Debunking the money and time myths made managing stress …well...manageable. 


Making stress management manageable and maybe even a little playful


Over the last 25 years, I have seen so many people benefit from this collage experiential.  What I found most interesting was that when time was reduced and funds were limited, it brought out the kid in most adults and an element of playfulness reappeared.   It turned out that the need for lavish and expensive activities burdened with high costs and reserved for large amounts of time were making stress reduction prohibitive.  Stress management was causing stress!  Once these stressors of high expectations of money and time were removed and replaced with a mini-recess and trinkets, child-like spirits reappeared with carefree playfulness.


I have to admit that this concept had been beneficial for myself and even made me reflect on my childhood when I used to love to save my quarters and buy myself a small hamburger after reading books at the library.   It was the best feeling ever!  Another special memory was of my Sicilian grandmother always tucking a $1 bill in my pocket with a packet of gum after having Sunday dinner with her.  On the way home, I would go to the store and buy myself some simple pleasures and treasures:  Gum, stickers, baseball cards etc. or go to the neighborhood bakery and purchase a gingerbread cookie.  It was such fun to see how far I could stretch that $1!   While times have inflated the costs of bubblegum, the idea of getting a little treat can still make you feel like a million bucks…and while the Sun Rexall around the corner from my house in Texas is long gone, there always seems to be a dollar store around the turn of every corner!

If you find stress getting in the way of having a calm and peaceful life, please call me at 610.329.1684 to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation.   

Permission to go play: 

50 Ideas for managing stress in under 45 minutes

* Go for a walk in a park and stop to swing on the swing set

* Ride a bike on a nearby trail

* Doodle in a sketchpad with markers or oil pastels

* Take up an old hobby that you used to enjoy

* Take a bubble bath for a nice long soak

* Plant bright flowers in a container planter or window box

* Find a Meetup group with your interest and make a play date with new playmates

* Visit or walk to your local farmers market and buy a new fruit or vegetable you’d like to try in a new healthy recipe

* Jump rope

* Take your camera/mobile phone on a “wonder walk” and take photos of what you notice

* Take a neighbor’s dog on a walk

* Volunteer with neighbors to clean or care for a mutually shared area

* Cook a new recipe

* Window shop

*Fly a kite

* Dry flowers and press in frame from the dollar store

* Dry flowers and make into paper with petals and recycled paper pulp

* Blow bubbles

* Dance by yourself in a room to really loud music

* Send yourself an inspiring card in the mail (Have a friend mail it to you so it’s a surprise)

* Try a new genre of music

* Sit by a stream and listen to water

* Play Frisbee

* Plant a free tree sapling

* Skip rocks

* Try out new art media samples at an art store

* Make a gratitude list

* Play with a yo-yo

* Attend a festival in a neighboring town with a friend

* Sample flavors of gelato at a gelatoria

* Bird watch from your deck—keep count of how many different species you see

* Fill a composition notebook with your daydreams and dreams

* Make an old family recipe with fresh herbs or ingredients

* Prepare a nice cup of tea

* Have a bubble gum blowing contest with your kids

* Take starter roots from a plant to repot and share one with a friend

* Make 02 loaves of homemade bread and give one to a neighbor in need

* Make a fruit salad and prepack it for lunch for the next day

* Look for earthworms with your kids and give them silly names (My kids still call them Henries to this day!)

* Save bulbs from spring flowers and plant in the fall for a splash of uplifting color in late winter/ early spring

* Watch sunlight glisten on a pond just before sunset

* Refinish or paint an old piece of furniture from a thrift store (Clean it, prep it, finish it-45 minutes of fun x 3)

* Visit a sporting event or arts event at your local high school

* Ride local transit to a local park or museum for a new perspective

* Attend a free lecture at your local library

*  See free movies in the park

*  Plant exotic plants in a terrarium

* Make a mandala

*  Visit museums on free public days

Being a kid in a candy store: 

50 ideas for managing stress for less than $10


* Magazine of your hobby or interest and explore new ideas

* Chocolate bar…really good chocolate

* An accessory for your hobby to rekindle an old interest (tackle for fishing, yarn for knitting, canvas for painting…)

* New fingernail polish

* New shade of lipstick

* Scented candle

* Potted houseplant

* Bouquet of flowers from a local farmers market

* Sachets for your closet or drawer

* Scented soap of lavender for relaxation

* Fun pen or set of pencils

* Set of stationery and some postal stamps to send a card to a friend

* Fun office supplies (notepads, paperclips, tape etc.)

* Take the beads off junk thrift store jewelry necklaces and restring into a new necklace or bracelet

* Scarf from a sales rack

* Older library books that are on-sale reduced or for free

* Travel section at the store to try new products like lotions, lip balms etc.

* Cup of specialty coffee or tea

* Fancy dessert at a café or bakery

* A tool for your home and learn new ways to use it for a craft or to fix something

* Scarves from thrift store to make a new window treatment

* Decorative paper napkins for lunch box or dinner

* Gelato or ice cream

* Comfy warm and soft socks

* Scented hand soap

* Blow bubbles (I did this once while stuck in Atlanta traffic and made fellow motorists smile!)

* Frame an inspirational greeting card

* Packet of seeds and soil

* Starter plant for a vegetable in a container

* Origami paper

* Composition notebooks filled for random inspiring thoughts

* Mix and matched saucers and teacups from a thrift store reserved for a nice cup of tea –for tea or for a nice tea cup floral arrangement

* Scented bubble bath

* Colorful fresh fruit for your fruit bowl

* Fresh mint for summer tea

* Bubble gum and make bubbles—big bubbles

* Scented pillow spray

* Lemons for lemonade

* Day-old bread for feeding ducks at a pond

*  Throw pillow

*  Fluffy cotton towel

*  Print of your favorite photograph

*  Eye shadow

*  Pair of earrings on sale rack or from a vintage store

*  Sidewalk chalk for making your mandala

*  Teddy bear (We are never too old for teddy bears!)

*  Nice glass for drinking water

*  A drop-in for a yoga class

*  An embroidery kit or cross stitch kit

*  A deck of playing cards with themes of flowers or places of travel

If you are finding anxiety difficult to manage, please feel free to call me at 610.329.1684 to contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation to learn how therapy may help you today.