/ Lifestyle

Practice self-care on a budget

Just in time for spring, say hello to a new self-care routine and breathe goodbye to winter – without blowing your budget.

Self-care is a buzzword in 2020, and while it may conjure up images of yoga retreats, spa days and meditation coaches, many self-care activities can be inexpensive (if not downright free).

Why is self-care important?

If you’re looking to take a bit of time for yourself this year, good for you! Self-care is an important step in protecting your well-being and happiness, particularly during times of stress. And while the most obvious benefit of self-care is mental well-being, self-care also has a significant impact on your physical health too.

To celebrate the return of springtime and bid adieu to winter blues, we’ve put together 4 self-care activities that you can practice on any budget.

If you don’t have a lot of extra time to practice self-care, that’s okay too! We’ve included the time commitment for the activities below, so you can find one that fits your budget and your lifestyle.

1) Start an affirmation practice

Cost: free

Time commitment: 30 seconds

“I can do this.” “I am healthy.” “I am smart.” “I am strong.” All of these statements are examples of affirmations – kind things you can say about yourself. Try saying an affirmation (anything positive about yourself) at least once a day. Saying something kind to yourself can help displace negative or critical thoughts inside your head; if those thoughts start to creep up throughout the day, try repeating your affirmation. If nothing else, it’s a positive voice; kindness to yourself goes a long way.

2) Take a walk outside and use the rule of 5 (the “triple whammy”)

Cost: free

Time commitment: 5 minutes +

This combines three amazing self-care activities to help you feel grounded and present:

  • Take a walk – Getting physical can help you reduce any pent-up stress. Let go of whatever negative feelings you’ve been holding onto, take a few deep breaths and just feel your body move – even if it’s for only a couple of minutes. You’ll feel clear-headed in no time.
  • Get outside – If you can make your walk an outdoor walk, you’ll be all the better for it. Simply being outside can help you de-stress. Whether you’re headed around the block downtown, through your neighborhood or in a park, forest or field, your body can relax faster when you’re outdoors.
  • Use the rule of 5 – this is a great tool for when your thoughts are racing and you feel like you don’t have enough time to get everything done. If you can do this exercise while you’re outside walking, bonus! If not, try it anyway. Pause for a moment (you’ll be better for it), and acknowledge:

5 things you can see around you (a tree, a pen, your computer, a window, etc.)

4 things you can touch (reach out and touch them)

3 things you hear (from traffic noises to bird songs)

2 things you can smell (warm coffee? Someone’s lunch?)

1 thing you can taste (maybe that same warm coffee?)

 

3) Take care of a plant

Cost: $10+

Time commitment: 30 seconds

That’s right, even something like taking care of a plant can be a form of self-care. Even if you only have 30 seconds a day to water and trim your plant, you’ll be doing something positive for yourself at the same time. When you take care of a plant, you’ll be forced to stare away from your computer or other screen for a moment and be present enough to notice things about it: is your plant dry? Is the soil too wet? Is that a new leaf!?

Not only will you be purifying the air and contributing positively to your environment, but having a plant to care for where you work or live can also help you:

  • Feel calm and focused
  • Recuperate faster (there’s a reason we send flowers to people when they’re in the hospital!)
  • Stay in-tune with your surroundings, leading to less stress

Tip: Once warm weather arrives, try planting an outdoor garden to elevate your self-care practice. Not sure how to get started? Read this article for budget-friendly garden tips.

4) 10-minute time (for yourself)

Cost: free

Time: 10 minutes

Have you heard of 10-minute time before? 10 minutes is the perfect amount of time to spend doing an activity; when you’re finished, you’ve done it for long enough to have fully invested yourself, but not so long that you’re eating into the rest of your day. Set a timer for 10 minutes of self-care, and spend it on something that rejuvenates you.

Maybe try:

  • Doing nothing – Nothing. Zip. Nada. Sit on the couch, don’t turn on the TV and don’t look at your phone. Yes, you might feel a little odd or bored at first, but just ease into it. Lay back or close your eyes if you want. Think about whatever you want to, or don’t think at all. Welcome to meditation.
  • Journaling – You don’t have to write about anything in particular, but simply writing about your day or whatever comes to mind is an exercise in self-reflection. The time you take to pause and explore yourself will help you release anything you’ve been holding on to.
  • Stretching – Stretching or mild exercise like yoga can act as a reset button for your day. Take slow breaths and move along with your inhales and exhales. Do what feels good for you today.

On top of these activities, you can absolutely practice self-care by exercising, eating right, meditating and doing almost anything else that brings you joy and well-being. From meditation apps to YouTube yoga, there are many methods for taking care of yourself at home on a budget.

Oh, and our other favourite self-care tip? Budgeting – yes, it can be a form of self-care! Regularly caring for your financial well-being will help you stay in the know about your finances. You’ll know where your money is, how much you have saved, and can do regular check-ins to help yourself stay on track – all helping to reduce financial stress. Even better, if you know you’re headed off course you can revisit your budget and change your money management approach. Want to give budgeting a try? Read more about how you can build a budget and save money.  

Remember: self-care is necessary, not a luxury. With these affordable and quick tricks, there’s no excuse let your self-care fall by the wayside.

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