One of the reasons I hear most commonly for not being able to practice self-care is that old chestnut of ‘I don’t have the money’. Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, in my opinion, most self-care activities can be completely free. Plus, working within your budget is self-care of the financial kind. And while it’s lovely to splurge on yourself once in a while, in my experience spending money you don’t have kind of spoils the experience anyway. So I’m all for low-cost and free self-care activities.
Here are my top tips for self-care on a budget:
- The internet! There are SO many amazing resources floating around the web and it doesn’t take much to gather a few free tools and add them to your own personal self-care tool kit. Want to do yoga? There are loads of free classes on YouTube! Want to listen to an inspirational or motivational speaker? Try TED Talks! Want some healthy recipes? There are a million and one to choose from! This can be especially good if you are interested in trying before you buy. A great example of this is Viki from MindBodyFood’s meditation tracks, which you can get a sample of here.
- Be intentional. Many of the activities you already do in a day are self-care. E.g. brushing your teeth, making a healthy dinner, going for a run, having a quiet cup of tea. When you are intentional about them instead of going through the motions while distracted by your worries or the TV, it makes a big difference!
- Make self-care a priority. Make some time every day that you devote to self-care over and above your normal day-to-day habits. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, even 5 or 10 minutes a day can make a difference. I’m sure there are things you say you would do if you had more time: give yourself the time!
- Work out what feels like self-care to you and what doesn’t. This is one of the first activities in my Self-Care Matters e-course: write down at least 3 activities that actually make you feel nourished and cared for. We are all different and it’s useful to really tune in to what you like and what feels good for you. Maybe green smoothies are your favourite, or having a bath. Maybe it’s having a lounge room dance party or going for a quiet walk. Maybe it’s getting up early, maybe it’s sleeping in…Write down the activities that work for you! Next, work out what feels like the opposite of self-care to you. After all, different strokes for different folks! Write down 3 activities that perhaps you think you should like, but actually don’t like, or that you have heard suggested as self-care but that sound to you more like a chore. If any of the items on your list are things you are currently forcing yourself to do in the name of looking after yourself (hello, brussel sprouts!), then STOP! Give yourself permission to drop that off your list!
- Use what you have. When it comes to looking after ourselves, it’s easy to feel like we need ‘just one more thing’ or ‘that special thing’ before we can truly practice self-care. In truth, this is often a mindset created by marketing in order to get us to buy something! Investing in quality tools and techniques can really help, but there are many ways to show yourself some tender loving care without needing to buy anything. Chances are you already have loads of resources at hand: pretty nail polish, fragrant soap, healthy food, the internet, a friend to talk to, some kind of writing implement (paper or digital) to write your journal in etc. Take an inventory of the resources you already have that you can use to nourish you and then actually USE them!
- DIY! Again, using the internet and the things that you already have, there are infinite possibilities for creating your own self-care experiences in the comfort of your own home. You can make your own face-masks out of avocado and honey, set up all your lotions and polishes and give yourself a mani-pedi, put on some nice music and do some gentle stretching on the lounge room floor, get an old exercise book and do some journalling, use the internet to create an entire home-based, video-led retreat for yourself…It can be as much or as little as you like, but there are almost always ways you can do-it-yourself!
- Recruit a friend to be your self-care buddy. You can pool your resources,
scratchmassage each others backs and be each other’s encouragement partner. Affirm each other and take turns really listening to each other. Sometimes just having someone hold the space for you and remind you that you are worthy of your own care is all it takes!
- Make a plan and start saving for that self-care activity that you really want. Do you want to reward yourself with a facial or a massage every few months? One strategy that I love is to save my $5 notes. It’s amazing how quickly they add up to $50 or even $100. I often use this strategy for when I want to ‘splurge’ but feel I don’t have the cash on hand. It’s interesting how saving $100 all at once feels difficult but I don’t really miss $5 here and there, and it starts to get exciting when you notice how much it’s adding up to. A friend of mine uses a similar strategy to save for spending money for her holiday every year. She simply puts all the coins in her wallet into a big money box about once a week and by the end of the year she finds she has around $800!
- Make a ‘self-care upgrades’ list of things that you’d LOVE to have or do but that you don’t have the money for right now. It might be investing in a coach, getting a monthly massage, going on a fancy holiday or simply treating yourself to that fancy shampoo. Make a list and then you can decide what order you will work towards them.
The bottom line is that you are worthy of your own love and care. It doesn’t have to cost any money at all unless you want it to!