What does self-care mean to you? What would it look and feel like?
Are you imagining expensive vacations to tropical beaches or days spent at the luxury spa?
For some people, the thought of dropping large sums of money on themselves can feel uncomfortable, selfish, or like a faraway dream beyond their monetary means.
We have great news for you: self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost you a dime. It requires you to carve out just a little bit of your time to prioritize yourself. Trust us — you deserve it!
10 Ways To Engage With Self-Care for FREE:
1. Move your body.
Your body, mind, and spirit crave movement. Research shows that daily exercise improves both our physical and mental well-being. Just 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 days per week can be beneficial. The key to consistency is finding exercise that makes you feel good. A simple walk around a block or two in the fresh air will do. If you have a dog, bring your furry friend along too! Stretching, yoga, and low impact exercises can be completed at home without requiring a fancy gym setup or equipment.
2. Read a book.
Looking for vacation? Sweet romance? Adventure? Time travel? Look no further than the pages of a good book. Take advantage of your local public library to borrow books and audiobooks for free (the Overdrive app connects to your library card and is a great resource for free e-books and audiobooks). Take advantage of Little Free Libraries in your area, perhaps while you’re taking that walk we mentioned above. You might also borrow a book from a friend, family member, or co-worker. Maybe you can start a fun book exchange with your loved ones!
3. Try meditation.
Did you know that deep breathing is good for your nervous system? There’s no complicated trick to meditation. In a comfortable sitting position (or laying down, if it doesn’t make you sleepy), close your eyes or softly focus them on an object. Take notice of your breath and focus on its quality or rhythm. You don’t need to breath in any special way; your normal breathing is just fine. It’s inevitable that your mind will wander away from the focus on your breathing. It’s called meditation practice for a reason. At first, your “monkey mind” will often gear toward things like your grocery list. Without judgement on yourself, gently pull yourself back to focusing on your breath. Set yourself up for success with realistic expectations. Start with setting yourself a timer for 2-5 minutes. You can gradually build your practice from there. Here’s a simple guide to get you started. There are also many licensed practitioners on YouTube or other streaming platforms that can lead you through quick guided meditations (here is one example). While meditation might work for some folks, it’s not for everyone! This is perfectly okay.
4. Prioritize your sleep.
Good sleep habits are referred to as “sleep hygiene”! Getting good quality sleep is important for your body and mind to function properly. Make sure your space is comfortable and your wake/sleep schedule is consistent. Most adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Watch your caffeine intake and make sure you’re getting enough exercise during the day. Turn off your phone and get to bed earlier for some extra self-care!
5. Express gratitude.
You can’t be anxious and grateful at the same time. The two feelings don’t like to coexist! Make a small list of things you’re grateful everyday. We understand that sometimes you have to dig real deep to find things to be grateful for when times are difficult. But there is always something, from the air you breathe to the clean water you get to drink. Start easy with this habit (maybe 5 gratitude items) and work your way up. The more you practice gratitude, the more you will notice things in your life for which you’re grateful. Bonus if you have a journal or some simple scrap paper to write down your lists. But sometimes just going through your gratitude list out loud or in your mind is enough!
6. Unplug from social media for a little while.
We all have smartphones. These little computers we carry around with us all day bombard us with notifications from friends/family, news outlets, social media platforms, calendars, and more. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming, irritating, or even feel addicting (for those of us who can’t seem to stop scrolling on TikTok for hours at a time 👀). Give yourself the gift of disconnecting and being present in your own life. Perhaps, one might start with one hour of being disconnected and work up to a full day or more. Spend intentional time with your loved ones or pets. Your email and social media posts can wait. Your mental health is more important.
7. Call a loved one.
Need to vent or a good laugh? Reach out to your loved ones for some quality time. Sometimes, a good conversation can be just the thing we need to lift our spirits. And if you have a loved one who is struggling, make sure you’re reaching out to them to offer support t00!
8. Watch the sunrise or sunset.
Have you ever been sad when you’ve watched a beautiful sunrise/sunset? Neither have we. Just saying!
9. Kitchen dance party!
Put on your favorite tunes and get into the groove. If you’re not shy, include your loved ones, roommates, family, and/or pets. Otherwise, maybe find a private space to enjoy music and a little bit of fun movement for yourself. If you get really into it, maybe you can start a little karaoke moment. Turn on some Whitney Houston and sing your heart out; we won’t tell.
10. Write a list of 10 things you love about yourself.
Give yourself a compliment or ten. What do you love about yourself? Are you strong? Funny? Dependable? A loyal friend? Creative? Write down ten things you love about yourself and save the list for a rainy day when you’re not feeling so confident. Foundations licensed therapist, Kate Bellingar, recommends this site to her clients who have a hard time coming up with their strengths and need some help brainstorming: https://positivepsychology.com/what-are-your-strengths/.
Bonus tip: Drink some water! Your body and brain need hydration to function well. Know that every sip of water you take is a mini self-care moment just for you.
Self-care is not a selfish thing. It’s a form of necessary daily care for your mind, body, and spirit. Even just 15-30 minutes a day dedicated to your well-being can make a BIG difference in your life. When we care for ourselves, the positive effects ripple outward to others (family, friends, co-workers, and more). Self-care is for everyone! And Foundations is here for you on your self-care journey. ❤
Remember: be kind to yourself and others. Kindness is free, too.
Credit to all gifs belongs to GIPHY.
*reviewed by Kate Bellingar, MA, LPC, NCC and Sara Wisneski, LPC