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21 ways to practice perfect self-care on a budget

How to practice perfect self-care on a budget

By Anne-Marie Vettorel, Espresso

As much as the $4.2-trillion wellness industry might try to convince you that well-being is something you can buy, it’s important to remember that a fulfilling, low-stress life doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The next time you’re tempted to charge a visit to a health spa or a pricey spin class to your credit card, try incorporating some of these free or low-cost practices into your routine instead.



Drink water


Hydration is vital to the proper functioning of your body—it improves your skin and organ function, energizes your muscles and brain, and can lift your mood. If, as you read this, you aren’t feeling very good, take a quick break from this slideshow to pour yourself a tall glass of water and drink it slowly and mindfully.



Learn to pay attention


How does it feel to drink a glass of water slowly? Many of us zoom through life without pausing to appreciate or savour small moments and experiences. The practice of mindfulness, which includes meditation, has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and help people cope with anxiety, depression, and even chronic pain.



Peruse a farmers’ market


Good nutrition is essential to feeling good and taking proper care of your mental health. Eating well doesn’t have to be super expensive, either—skip Whole Foods and boutique health food shops, and instead hit up a local farmers’ market to stock up on loads of seasonal fruits and vegetables.



Cook a meal


When you’re struggling to take care of yourself, cooking can feel like a tremendous task. Make it a soothing experience by lighting a few candles, listening to music or a podcast, and cooking something simple that isn’t going to stress you out.



Clean house


“Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed,” writes psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter in Psychology Today. Tackle this often-overlooked source of stress by pumping your favourite tunes, throwing away old stuff, and organizing your space.



Put pen to paper


Journaling can be a tremendously healing practice. Take some time to get to know yourself by writing out your thoughts, reflections, emotions, and experiences on paper.



Make your own at-home spa products


If Instagram is any guide, skincare is a huge part of #selfcare—but purchase enough of those sheet masks, creams, and oils and you’ll start breaking out from the financial stress. Here are some DIY options to try instead.



Sweat it out


Lots of condominiums have saunas or steam rooms that few people use—if you have access to one, take advantage of it. Or buy a day pass to a gym that has a sauna; it’ll probably be cheaper than a trip to the spa, and you can fit a workout in, too!



Borrow a library book


Public libraries can be a safe haven in tumultuous times. Take your time browsing the stacks, find a comfortable place to rest and start reading, and then take out a few books—it’s free and often very therapeutic.



Do yoga at home


The benefits of yoga are well known, but classes in major cities can be expensive. Finding an online yoga course (here, here, or here, for example) and taking up an at-home practice can be a cheap (or completely free) way of taking care of yourself.



Go for a walk


Get outside, breathe fresh air, and get your body moving. If you’re feeling down, try not to stew in your negative feelings and get caught in a spiral—just make the effort to reach for your running shoes and hit the sidewalk or a nearby trail.



Call someone


Connect with the people you love, even if it’s just via phone or Skype. If you’re going through a hard time, opening up about your struggles with someone you trust can help remind you that you’re loved and valued—and your friend or family member might also provide useful insight or perspective.



Dance


As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.” Even if you think you aren’t a talented dancer, find an upbeat playlist and shake your stress out in front of the mirror.



Turn off your phone


Take time off—you deserve it. Put your phone on airplane mode or shut it off completely for a few hours. Use that time to rest or do some inspiring analogue activities.



Get creative


What did you do for fun in the fourth grade? Revisit your old creative passions, whether for crafting, drawing, or telling stories.



Practice gratitude


Make a list of the blessings in your life. Then go over the list carefully and think about what each item on it brings to your life—meditate on how good it feels to see clearly or taste a chocolate bar, the many ways your body helps you enjoy the sensory pleasures of life. Think of the people you love, opportunities you have, and the safety you enjoy.



Take a hot bath


Are you in the habit of pouring yourself a glass of wine at the end of a long, hard day? Try to soften your dependence on alcohol by running a warm bath instead. Adding an aromatherapy element, like a blend of essential oils, can make this ritual even more relaxing.



Volunteer


You might feel like you just can’t add another commitment to your plate, but start small: volunteer one hour a month to start and you might find that it’s more energizing and inspiring than you’d thought. Want to double down on self-care? Volunteer to walk rescue dogs—there are proven health benefits to interacting with animal companions.



Get more rest


Stay in bed a little longer in the morning, take a nap, or organize your life to get to bed a little earlier tonight. The effects of chronic sleep deprivation are serious and can contribute to poor mental health—not to mention that sleep is cheap, high-quality entertainment: it feels wonderful and doesn’t cost a dime.



Say no


Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your mental health is to just stay home. There are some commitments that you shouldn’t be flaky about—and you’ll know what those are—but otherwise? Make a point of prioritizing your needs above routine social obligations. Plus, saving the $25 you might have spent at happy hour? Not a terrible side effect.

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Bloom Magazine: 21 ways to practice perfect self-care on a budget
21 ways to practice perfect self-care on a budget
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