Self-care you can actually afford
Now more than ever, we all need to be taking care of ourselves. We are 6 months into a pandemic that does not seem to be slowing down, at least not in the United States.
Self-care is important but when you hear people talking about self-care it is often things that are expensive – spas, vacations, massages, yoga classes, meditation retreats, etc. Not only are these out of your price range if you are unemployed or under employed but also many things like group yoga classes are not taking place. Even if they are, you might be too afraid of illness to go.
Here are some ideas for self-care you can afford!
Why Is Self-Care Important?
I hope that I do not have to tell you that self-care is important! By this point we have all heard it but we might not all understand why. Burnout leads to apathy in our lives and in our work. When we simply go to work, come home, do chores, veg out in front of the television, and wake up to do the exact same thing tomorrow, it is easy to become burnt out.
This time of year, summer, many of my clients typically take vacations. More and more I am hearing that they are too afraid to go to the beach and spend time in restaurants like they would typically do. Others have lost their job due to COVID-19 and simply cannot afford to do the things that they used to do. Self-care is much more than just expensive vacations, spa days, and gym memberships, although those can all be self-care as well.
Self-Care That Is Free
- Don’t skip meals.
- Get enough sleep.
- Move your body in some way (it can be as simple as taking a walk!)
- Keep your living space clean and tidy.
- Hug an animal (if you don’t have a pet you might be able to volunteer at a local shelter.)
- Turn off the television. Too much time in front of the tv starts to make you feel bad.
“A healthy self-love means we have no compulsion to justify to ourselves or others why we take vacations, why we sleep late, why we buy new shoes, why we spoil ourselves from time to time. We feel comfortable doing things which add quality and beauty to life.”
Free or Affordable Self-Care
Listen to a podcast
Podcasts are free. There are many different kinds. Some might be fictionalized stories, while others are educations, still others are on current events or true crime. Pick a topic you are interested in and see what’s out there. If you have a smart phone or access to the internet, you have access to podcasts.
Take a bath
Grab a book or just close your eyes and breathe. Taking a bath is a way to de-stress and escape even if it is just for ten minutes. If you have some bubbles or a bathbomb great, but those are NOT required. According to HealthLine: “Your skin releases endorphins in response to the soothing warm water the same way that endorphins are released when you feel the sun on your skin.” A hot bath can also help with breathing and chronic pain according to the same article.
Learn something new
At the beginning of the pandemic everyone seemed to be learning a language, taking up a new hobby (or revisiting an old one), and baking bread. As quarantine fatigue has set in, people have started losing interest but it is still a good idea to dive into that new skill you have been wanting to try. Two 2017 studies showed that learning something new helped to lower stress.
Unplug from Social Media
We have known for many years that spending too much time on social media can lead to feelings of depression. When a large portion of everything being shared is about fear and death, taking time off social media is even more important. There’s even a term for it now “doomscrolling.” In an article from Health Magazine Ken Yeager, PhD a psychiatrist at Ohio State University explained: “We are all hardwired to see the negative and be drawn to the negative because it can harm us physically…” Unfortunately this is not good for our mental health!
Do not isolate
If you are avoiding going out and spending time with people don’t forget to stay connected in other ways (OFF social media!) Call friends, schedule a zoom call, do a video game night, be sure to stay in touch.
If you are used to interacting with coworkers but are working from home now, make a group text for everyone to send small talk and jokes like they would if you were in the office together.
Cook healthy food
The best way to make sure that you are eating healthy food is to cook it yourself! Don’t swap takeout and fast food for highly processed food you buy at the grocery store. Now is a great time to spend a little extra time cooking nutrient dense meals full of whole grains and veggies. UCLA reports that multiple studies have shown that eating healthfully can help with stress and also boost your immune system.
Focus Your Intention on Well Being
This is not to say that you should not skip the massage or vacation if you are able to afford it and are not concerned about sickness. Getting away from it all, even for a day, is a great way to de-stress but if you are not able to, that is also fine.
The point is to practice daily self-care in order to improve your well being. Every small and large step you take to invest more in your health will benefit you!
Stacey Aldridge, LCSW
Stacey is a therapist in private practice and the owner of Inspired Happiness Therapy and Wellness in Ridgeland, MS. If you are in the state of Mississippi and are interested in seeing Stacey for therapy, please visit the Appointments page.