by Maggie Germano
Self-care is a very popular topic these days, and for good reason: we have to fill our own cup first. But it’s easy to forget that self care doesn’t have to be a luxury, and it’s not only for the wealthy. You can take care of yourself even if you’re on a budget. Here are some ways to practice self-care without breaking the bank.
1. Go to sleep
I know so many people who don’t make sleep a priority. Everything suffers when you don’t get enough sleep: your mood, immune system, concentration, skin, etc. The optimum hours of sleep differs depending on the person, but try to figure out when you feel the best in the morning. Then, make it part of your schedule to go to bed in time to get that many hours of sleep. Do you have trouble falling asleep? Turn off your TV or cell phone an hour before you go to bed, read a book, spritz some lavender near your pillow, or do some deep breathing. BONUS: Sleep is free!
2. Drink lots of water
Being adequately hydrated is key to many physical and mental benefits. To name a few: it can improve your mood, it can aid your digestive system, it helps you think more clearly, and more! Don’t know how much water to drink everyday? I use this cool app called iHydrate, which allows you to input your gender, weight, and level of daily activity. From there, it calculates how much water you should be drinking each day to be hydrated enough. I really like how personalized it is, rather than the 60oz a day that is often touted. And don’t forget to carry around a reusable water bottle with you. Plastic bottles are terrible for the environment and a waste of money. I like Klean Kanteen and Hydro Flask.
3. Eat well
Yes, eating healthy food is not exactly easy when you’re on a tight budget. But it is still possible. I personally have been eating a lot of takeout and chocolate for the past two weeks… This might feel good in the moment but it ends up making me feel lethargic and unhealthy. Try to plan your meals ahead of time so that you aren’t tempted to go buy fried food; this will help your wallet and your overall health. I’ve been trying to cook a huge, healthy crockpot meal on Sundays so that I have a delicious ready-made lunch all week. How can you incorporate more vegetables and fruit in your diet?
4. Take a break
I know plenty of people, especially women, who feel like they need to be productive all. the. time. Yes, there is a lot to do and many changes to make (especially now), but you’re no good to anyone if you burn out. Make time to let yourself recharge. Set boundaries so that you have that time for yourself. For example, choose at least one night a week when you can go home after work and just relax. I like to do this on Mondays because they are also one of the worst days of the week (IMO). Block off that day on your calendar and don’t schedule anything over it. You don’t have to be productive 24/7. Do it for your health and sanity over the long term.
5. Do things that make you happy
When we are busy or stressed, we tend to forego the things that are best for us. This can be eating well or exercising, but it also can be the things we love most. Have you been ignoring your friends’ texts? Perhaps putting your romantic partner on the back burner? Do you love working out but haven’t been making the time for it? Are your books gathering dust? Deliberately make time to do the things that bring you joy. If you have to, schedule it on your calendar. From 10:30pm-11pm each night, read that book you’ve been dying to read. Put a date night (for friends or your sweetheart) on the calendar for once a week. If you need to save money, make it an at-home date night: cook a simple (but healthy and delicious) dinner, and watch a movie on Netflix together.
These aren’t the only ways to take care of yourself—not even close. Do you feel really good after you give yourself a manicure or pedicure? Do that more often (but make sure to build it into your budget)! Is regular exercise a major part of what makes you feel healthy? Do that too. Only you know what steps are needed to make you the best that you can be.
Feature image from Lou & Grey