4. Relax with nature.
You know what doesn’t cost a dime and can be as time-consuming or quick as you want? Spending time with nature. I say spending time “with” nature, rather than “in” nature because this could be as simple as closing your office door for a few minutes to listen to the rain beat on the window, or as grand as, well, A Sunday on La Grande Jette. You get the picture.
5. Aromatherapy and meditation.
I know what you’re thinking: “But… aromatherapy is expensive!” The fact is, yeah, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m definitely not suggesting you get in deep with a company slinging the latest in luxury scents for your home and office. Just sniff things that make you happy. This could be fresh flowers, herbs and cloves in a cloth bag or essential oils you made at home by infusing your favorite non-toxic herbs with olive oil. As far as meditating goes, it only takes a few moments of your day and a comfy chair. Make the magic happen!
6. Meal plan for health and reduced stress.
Raise your hand if you knew grocery shopping could be an act of self-care? When you start your shopping list with a meal plan, you save money on groceries and ensure that you and everyone in your care eats healthier. Healthy eating is a form of self-care, especially for people on the go. So, next time you’re stopped in the grocery store produce aisle looking for the perfect eggplant, toss a few affirmations your own way. You won’t regret it.
7. Dance with yourself.
Turning up the tunes and having an impromptu dance party-of-one can be an excellent, free form of self-care, and it doesn’t have to be very time-consuming. So, get those socks and sweatpants on the living room dance floor and turn up the Billy Idol; it’s time for the exercise you never knew you needed in your life.
8. Set an early bedtime.
When I haven’t made time for much self-care and I’m on a tight budget, sometimes I just turn in early. It should come as a surprise to no one that sleep is super important, and if you’re not getting enough of it, that could leave you feeling bad. A pervasive lack of sleep causes a whole slew of problems from dietary issues to problems with weight loss, depression, a correlation to heart disease and more. Don’t feel bad about winding down to get your snooze on; sometimes it’s just the inexpensive self-care technique you’ve been longing for.
9. Take that shower, unapologetically.
A small self-care tip that often goes overlooked, especially when it comes to busy people and parents, is to take a shower. Have you ever looked in the mirror, hair in a messy bun, and thought, “When was my last shower?” As a mom who has worked both in and out of the home, I’m not going to lie about it — I’ve been there. If you’re feeling a little grody, you’re definitely in need of self-care, and a 15-minute shower can answer the call.
10. Just say no.
Between work, friends, family, intimate relationships, parenting or whatever you have on your plate, a full schedule doesn’t leave much time for self-care. Sometimes you’ve got to tell people “no,” even if it means disappointing them. Don’t be afraid to gracefully bow out of Uncle Jordy’s football party or dinner with a friend you’ve been wanting to catch up with. Give yourself permission to take a rain check if it means you get a chance to deepen your connection with yourself in a way that’s required for balance in life. You can’t be a good friend or family member if you aren’t taking care of yourself first.