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Free Stress Relief for April 15 Tax Deadline


April 15th, “Tax Day”, as it is commonly known, is a very stressful day for many Americans. If you are among one of the millions still struggling to pull together all of the paperwork you need to file, rush to the post office by midnight, or find a way to pay your portion out of a depleted bank account, many retailers across the nation have freebies for you to ease your stress.

Starbucks is offering free coffee to those who present with their own reusable travel coffee mug. While the movement really is an effort to encourage people to use less disposable products in an effort to save trees, Starbucks is probably a place where you will find many stressed-out taxpayers today.

Caffeine can help keep you alert by inhibiting a body chemical called adenosine and by increasing the amount of adrenaline. This can help keep you focus during the number-crunching sessions of figuring out Form 1040. Small amounts of caffeine can lift your mood as well. However, beware that caffeine can elevate cortisol levels and excess can lead to increasing stress rather than relieving it. And try not to visit Starbucks in the late afternoon or evening – caffeine may interfere with your sleep tonight, leaving you feeling fatigued tomorrow.

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Cinnabon and Maggie Moos have the sugar fix you are craving today (people crave foods higher in sugar and fat when they are stressed). From 6pm to 8pm, participating mall-based Cinnabon bakeries will give away free Bite-sized cupcakes. MaggieMoo’s will offer a free sample of MaggieMia’s Ice Cream Pizza between 3pm and 7pm tonight.

Again, take the samples for what they are – quick stress relief, but not a long-term solution. It only takes a spoonful of sugar to decrease certain stress-related hormones in the body, according to a study from the University of Cincinnati. Excess sugar loads cause a quick rise in blood sugar, resulting in a rush of insulin to remove the glucose, and often leave people feeling more stressed in search of more sugar-filled foods. Bite-sizes are great – don’t buy the whole platter.

Boston Market
, the comfort-food restaurant of choice, will be offering buy one, get one free through the weekend. Between April 15 to April 18, consumers can buy one individual plate and get one free with a coupon that can be downloaded from the company website.

Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco found a biochemical system in the body of rats that could explain the reason we crave comfort foods under chronic or acute stress. Glucocorticoid steroid hormone (cortisol) plays a key role in the stress-response system and the consumption of comfort food may help temporarily interrupt the process. Norman Pecoraro PhD, one of the study authors says, “In the short term, if you’re chronically stressed, it might be worth eating and sleeping a little more to calm down.”

Of course, overdoing it on sugar and comfort foods could cause obesity and other related conditions, so it is best to nip the stress in the bud. This is where HydroMassage comes in. Between April 15th and 18th, participating locations of HydroMassage will offer free massages to temporarily help to relieve muscle tension, promote relaxation, and relieve stress and anxiety.

The best form of stress relief is exercise, which I plan to do as soon as I e-file my taxes.