5 Ways to De-Stress After ACA Season

Unless you used the Form 8809 extension, it’s safe to say that by this point your Affordable Care Act filing for the 2016 tax year is over and done with*! Time to take a deep breath and relax!

(*PS, if it’s not, that’s fine, just check out what to do if you still need to file after the deadline!)

The first quarter’s always a big one for the parts of running a business that aren’t necessarily as fun – you’ve got tax filing and now ACA filing, all the while you’re trying to predict and plan for how things are going to go for the rest of the year. Sometimes (like now), it takes a little more than a deep breath to deeply de-stress.

Look, you’ve got about a week or so before personal taxes are due, so why not take a bit of that time to yourself to forget about the stresses of the past few weeks and ready yourself for the year to come? Sound good? Good! Because we’ve got a few suggestions for how you can do just that:

Take a Looong Bath
A long, hot bath is just what the doctor ordered for slowing down the outside world and the one going on in your head. A hot bath before bed can help you get a better night’s sleep and relaxes sore back muscles, which tense up when you get stressed. A 2002 study even found that the combination of bodily comfort, warmth, isolation, and body position (aka being warm, horizontal, and alone) that comes from a bath can significantly improve mood and optimism.

Get a Massage
You probably don’t need us to tell you that getting a massage can do wonders for your stress levels. You probably also don’t need us to tell you that taking the time to go get a massage isn’t always an option, time-wise or financially. Luckily, there are techniques you can try at home to help keep the stress at bay until you can make an appointment with that masseuse!

Take a Hike
Or go for a walk with your dog. Or your significant other. Or yourself. The point we’re getting at here is for you to get active in nature. Sunlight stimulates serotonin, your feel-good neurotransmitter, while the rhythm and repetition of walking can have a tranquilizing effect on the brain. And when your brain’s calm, you’ll feel your anxiety levels decrease, your sleep improve, and your stress on the way out the door.

Eat Some Sweets
Of course, we don’t want you to binge and go overboard, but rewarding yourself with a few sweet treats can help your stress levels go down. A spoonful of honey, for example, can give you an instant energy kick and is packed with antioxidant and antibacterial properties to get you feeling good. And when you feel good, you manage your stress good – or, uh, well. Mangoes are also a great sweet treat for de-stressing; research from Japan shows that their sweet, tangy scent can actually alter your blood chemistry to help your body feel calm.

Go to a Concert or a Comedy
Music and laughter: two of stress’s biggest enemies! The University of Maryland has found that listening to music you love can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. Good for your heart, good for your stress levels, and, of course, good for your ears! And laughter: laughter has been found to reduce stress hormones and help your immune cells function better. With music and laughter, you’ll knock that stress right outta the park.

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