bubble bath

photo by blueyeda73

Doom-and-gloom stories are everywhere. At every turn, we're hearing about unemployment, foreclosures, bailouts, crime and violence or the recession. It's frustrating, depressing and downright annoying. You're busier than ever, too. It's important to be informed, but no one wants to become Chicken Little and it's tough to unwind after a long day. This is especially true when you're on a budget. Fortunately, many ways to relax can be experienced at home. And on the cheap. Develop a routine of taking time every day to relax. It only has to be 10 to 15 minutes for yourself, but it can become something to look forward to.

RECALL HAPPY MOMENTS: Recognize when something makes you happy. Happiness is often found in the little things. When you come across something that gives you happiness, acknowledge it. You can write these moments down or silently say it to yourself to keep it a memory that you can recall during stressful times. And this helps you to count your blessings, too.

GARDEN: Start a garden. It can be as simple as a small herb garden or adding a bird feeder to your backyard. It will force you to take time outside, breathe fresh air, and be close to nature. You can keep a garden journal and add personal thoughts to it, too.

EXERCISE: Whether it's walking or a home-fitness DVD, exercise is going to alleviate stress and make you feel great. This will encourage you to eat smart and get plenty of rest, too.

SPA AT HOME: Gather your favorite magazine or book, music, beverage and candles. Fill the tub, and add some bubbles. Shut the door, and enjoy your comfortable haven. Don't hop into the tub and immediately start washing. Practice being mindful and living in the moment. Start by taking control of your breathing. Close your eyes, and listen to yourself breathe. Take a deep breath and then slowly breathe out. Listen to the sound of your breathing and feel the warmth of the bath water, and try to concentrate on only that. It will get easier and easier for you to relax after you've practiced a few times.

Many spa products cost under $15, too. One reader, Tina in New Hampshire, shares: "I would rather pay a bit more for hair conditioner. I buy decent concentrate that I don't need to pay a ton of money on, and it works well on my hair. I usually add it to my hair in the beginning of my shower, pin my hair up in a large plastic clip, do my shaving and everything else, then I rinse it out last. Gives you the most 'bang' out of the product. Totally worth it to me." Witch hazel or a damp tea bag works as an astringent, epsom salt with a little essential oil makes a great bath salt, and cornmeal on a wet washcloth is a good body scrub.
Make a pore cleaner with the recipe below.

1 tablespoon Knox unflavored gelatin
1-1/2 tablespoons milk

Mix the ingredients, and microwave for 10 seconds to heat. Apply to nose and chin area. Allow mixture to dry for 10 to 15 minutes. Peel off the film.

CLOTHING: Change into a set of comfy clothes, such as sweat pants and a T-shirt or pj's. This helps you make a full transition from work mode to home comfort.

What are your frugal ways to relax?