For most of us, the phrase “self-care” calls to mind perfectly crafted Instagram posts of toes in white sand beaches, glowing skin from a professional facial, or rested eyes after a massage.
But self-care doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, anything that makes you feel happier, healthier, relaxed, or restored can qualify as self-care.
Here’s a list of our favorite inexpensive ways to make self-care part of your daily routine.
1. Get Some Shut-Eye
Who doesn’t love sleep? In all its many forms — power naps, nappuccinos, sleeping in on weekends — sleep qualifies as self-care. (Best of all, it’s free!)
But according to the CDC, 35 percent of adults in the U.S. aren’t getting the recommended seven hours per night.
2. Try Lavender for Aromatherapy
There’s evidence that the scent of lavender has a relaxing effect and may even improve sleep quality. Either way, it smells amazing — so keep a bottle of lavender oil next to your bed and sprinkle a few drops on your sheets each night to luxuriate in the calming scent.
Daydreaming can get you into trouble at a boring work meeting — but at home, it can be a valuable self-care tool.
Doodle, write in a journal, or simply sit in silence and let your mind wander. This is a moment for your brain to rest, recharge, and be creative.
4. Get Moving
This doesn’t have to be a workout (although a good sweat sesh definitely counts as self-care, too).
You can go for a short hike, walk up and down the stairs, do yoga, take a self-defense course — anything that helps you feel healthier and stronger.
5. Soothe Your Muscles
Self-myofascial release can help you relieve tightness and tension in your muscles without the expense of a massage.
6. Be Nice to Yourself
It’s always nice to hear a compliment — but why wait for someone else to tell you you’re awesome? Set a reminder on your phone or use a positive affirmation app to give yourself a pep talk.
7. Add Gratefulness
Gratefulness has been shown to improve your well-being. And there are plenty of simple ways to add gratefulness to your life — start a gratitude journal or create a “ta-da list” to celebrate your accomplishments.
8. Reach Out to Friends
Spending time with people you love can be uplifting.
Call a long-distance friend you haven’t heard from in a while, or set up a brunch date with that person who makes you laugh ’til you can’t breathe.
9. Pamper Yourself
10. Waste Time
Wasting time — guilt-free! — is an underrated form of self-care. Allow yourself time to do something completely unproductive:
- Sit in a coffee shop and people-watch.
- Watch silly YouTube videos. Kittens, puppies, silly pranks — take your pick.
- Walk in the grass barefoot. (Just watch out for fire ants!)
- Color a mandala.