Self care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. In a perfect world this could include taking a relaxing vacation, a four-hand back massage, hiring a chef to cook a healthy meal for your friends and family, etc. Unfortunately, those also come with a price tag that might cause you to hyperventilate.
Not all of us can afford a monthly facial, gym membership, and fresh produce subscription box. However, we can all find ways to practice self care in a cost-effective way.
Take a Mental Health Day
Sometimes we just need a momentary break from the grind. A do-nothing day where you recharge. Fill this day with things you enjoy that don’t require you to leave the house. This could include sleeping in, not getting dressed, making a continental breakfast at noon, or reading your favorite book.
Keys to a mental health day include picking the right day and unplugging to limit distractions. Don’t pick a day at work where you can’t afford to not be in the office. Working from home is not the same as a mental health day. When you pick a day, make it clear you will be offline and put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Burnout from constantly being online is real, so treat yourself with a screen-free day.
Or – a long lunch break or a slow morning
Can’t take a whole day off or saving up those vacation days? A slow morning or even an extended lunch break can still be beneficial and help you recharge.
Get Back to Nature
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms include fatigue and feeling run down. One way to avoid this is to get outside and spend some time in the sun (while wearing sunscreen). Have a picnic, go for a hike, or bike to a new part of town. If it is snowy and cold out, have a snowball fight, learn how to ski, or just walk and listen to the crunching of snow under your boots.
If you normally work out in a gym, try taking your activity outside, or create a seasonal outdoor workout plan to save on your gym membership.
You also don’t have to break a sweat to enjoy nature. You could pick a walk that lets you see new surroundings and gets you out of your normal groove.
Or – take a different route
You don’t need to go far from home to benefit from nature. Pick a park to walk or bike to and spend some time there. Or, just pick a different route on your commute to see something new on your way to work.
An at Home Spa Day
Spa treatments can come with a hefty price tag, but DIY alternatives can be just as relaxing. Wear something cozy, light candles or heat essential oils, and play some relaxing music to set the stage. Go online to find tutorials for at–home facial ideas that just use ingredients from your kitchen. Soak in epsom salts before painting your nails. Cue up an audiobook or podcast if you have a hard time sitting still for too long.
One important note—the illusion is ruined if your bathroom isn’t clean. Take some time to clean up your space and then reward your efforts with a spa day.
Or – take a longer shower or bath
Cut out the extra steps and just lose track of time in the shower or bath. There is a reason that people think of good ideas in the shower, it can be very meditative. Just not so much time that the water goes cold while you are still in there.
Workout or Yoga
Some find working out to be very therapeutic and good for focusing on themselves—but you don’t need to buy a gym membership to break a sweat. YouTube is a great place to find tutorials for any workout under the sun.
Yoga is a great alternative for those who want to focus more on clearing their mind. Consider a Yin or Slow Flow yoga practice to focus on finding your breath and meditate.
Or – take a nap
If you haven’t been sleeping well at night, a nap can be like hitting the reset button on the day. The National Sleep Foundation has found that 20 minutes is the ideal length for a restorative nap. Sleeping longer might leave you feeling more tired than before.
Spend Time With Friends
Self care includes connecting with those around you in a way that is relaxing and enjoyable. Rather than planning a big outing or dinner party, set up time with one or two close friends with no goals.
Some of the best bonding time is done without an agenda or a bigger goal. Maybe splurge on takeout and put on a movie you have been wanting to watch (or already love).
Or – give an old friend a call
Maybe your friends don’t live nearby, or you are busy this week but really need time with friends. Pick up the phone and give them a call. Catching up with a family member or friend for just 20 or 30 minutes on the phone will put a smile on your face for the rest of the day.