Take a quick scroll through Instagram and you’ll be inundated with all the newest, trendiest self-care must-haves for the season. If you get sucked into that gorgeous post, there’s a chance you’re typing in your credit card information before you even recognize what’s happening.
Self-care has gone from a personal practice to a spending trap.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for purchasing tools that support self-care practices. But I also believe that you can access life-changing self-care without eating into your paycheck or your precious bathroom countertop space.
WHAT IS SELF-CARE, REALLY?
Before diving into how you can practice self-care without spending a dime, it’s crucial to fully understand what self-care truly is. To put it simply, it’s an intentional act – physically, emotionally, or spiritually – that is practiced to improve your overall health and wellness.
It’s essential to recognize that it is a highly individual practice, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. As long as your practice is supporting your physical and mental health and is aligned with your priorities, your self-care practice will pay off.
Here’s the catch: self-care doesn’t always feel good.
Notice how the definition of self-care doesn’t say “something that makes you feel freakin’ fantastic the moment you do it.”
The above statement is a prevalent misconception around self-care. Add that to the idea that you have to purchase something to practice effectively caring for yourself, and you have yourself believing a modern self-care myth. Sometimes, self-care can feel tricky, challenging, and downright scary. It can feel as if you’re taking a step or two back before you even begin to make any noticeable forward movement.
Need an example? Imagine trying to meditate for the first time. For most, it’s pretty damn tricky to sit still and gently observe your thoughts for a set period. You begin to feel fidgety, anxious and snap back to reality before the meditation comes to an end. Quite quickly, meditation is crossed off of your self-care to-do list, never to be practiced again. You chalk up your experience to being “too stressed” or “not good at meditation,” when, in reality, you’re merely getting uncomfortable to eventually find more comfort and calm in your daily life.
CREATING SUSTAINABLE SELF-CARE (FINANCIALLY AND REALISTICALLY)
Finding the balance between self-care that doesn’t deplete your bank account and feels approachable enough to keep up can feel tricky, but it’s totally possible. If you’re feeling inspired, check out some cost-friendly, yet effective, self-care strategies below:
Free-write for five minutes each morning:
Start by pulling out an old journal, scraps of printer paper, or whatever else you have around your house. Then, put your phone away and write for a solid five minutes without judging what comes out on the paper. Don’t stop to correct grammar or spelling – this writing is for no one but yourself. Stream-of-consciousness writing can help you gain insight into the feelings, thoughts, and emotions you’re experiencing. In turn, this practice will support you in making more empowered choices about your time and energy.
Re-focus on things that are a priority for you:
In our overly connected world, it’s easy to feel we have to do all the things to stay relevant. Quite quickly, this mindset can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and you feeling not-so-great about yourself.
Take some time to reconnect with your priorities in the various segments of your life, including work, finances, family, friends, travel, personal goals, and romantic relationships. The stream-of-consciousness writing mentioned above is a great tool to help you realign with what’s most important to you.
Work on saying “No” and setting healthy boundaries:
Using your new priorities as fuel, learning how to say No and setting boundaries in life can help to keep what’s most important to you close to heart.
When you overcommit or say Yes to too many things, you won’t have the time or energy to focus on yourself. Creating boundaries and flexing your No muscle will help to create more space in your life for what matters to you most.
Find acceptance for yourself throughout the day:
It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game or find yourself trapped in an endless loop of analysis paralysis, often leaving you feeling depleted and down on yourself.
Working to find grace and patience can help to lessen how much pressure you continually put on yourself. This practice might feel really difficult and foreign at first, but it’s a powerful form of self-care that will continue to support you throughout your life.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SELF-CARE
Remember, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that spending money on something associated with self-care will instantly bring calm.
Self-care that changes your life in a positive, lasting, and impactful way isn’t always something that can be purchased in the store. Instead, it’s a practice that requires radical honesty, moments of breakdowns that create powerful breakthroughs, and a desire to get super real with your thoughts and emotions.
The next time you’re *this close* to spending on a self-care item, consider what feeling you’re really chasing with that purchase.
Feature Image via Emma Craft