“I’d love to do more self-care but I don’t have the money”. It’s a common response to the idea of treating ourselves better.
While everyone’s financial situation is different and there are reasons why you might be struggling, you can still find ways to be kind to yourself that won’t break the bank.
First, it’s vital to challenge the myth that self-care is all about luxury spa packages, trendy yoga retreats, chia matcha sundaes and mani-pedis. Real self-care is, as Brianna Wiest once said, “making the choice to build a life you don’t regularly need to escape from.”
Massages, stretching, desserts and nail art can all play a part in self-care, but they are only one part of the picture. They are the self-soothing part of self-care, the fun part. The other side is the part Brianna was talking about, it means doing things that may not be much fun now but will make your life better in the long term.
This is the part of self-care that includes going for a walk because it brings you fresh air, light physical activity and quiet time to think. This is the part of self-care that includes making sure you have healthy snacks in the house and your handbag, so you’re less likely to pick up the junk food. It’s also the part of self-care that involves spending a bit of time every week looking over your finances to make sure you’re not wasting money on expensive subscriptions you don’t need or getting a poor deal on your home contents cover or energy tariff.
This might feel like the last thing you want to do after a long day at work but think about the hours it took you to make your money. You work too hard to give all that away to some insurer or gas company. What’s more, you don’t have to spend hours getting the absolute best deal, as long as it’s a few pounds a month better than the one you have now, that’s going to help you.
It’s also worth checking on Turn2Us whether you’re entitled to any state benefits. Billions goes unclaimed every year, often because people assume being in work means they aren’t entitled to help. In London alone, at least £2.1bn is going unclaimed. Turn2Us can help you find out if you’re entitled to help as well as understanding the process of getting that help (click here).
Finally, check to see whether you can get a better deal on your credit card or any other borrowing you have. Ideally you want to borrow as little as possible and repay as fast as possible, but while you’re about it, you want to pay as little interest as you can. Even if you just do one or two of these things, the chances are you will free up a bit of cash each month to spend on yourself. Go ahead, you earned it!
Here are some suggestions for low cost ways to care for yourself.
Home made body scrub
½ cup sugar or salt
½ cup oil (almond, olive or whatever you prefer)
A few drops of your favourite essential oil
Mix together and store in a shatter-proof air-tight container.
Make a playlist
Creating a personalised playlist of favourite songs is a great way to make yourself feel better. You can make a few to suit different moods.
Try list titles like:
Ballads to have a good cry to
Living room disco
Funny and cute videos
The internet is full of funny and cute videos of babies and animals. Favourite the best ones so you can find them again when you need a giggle.
Form a group chat
Get together with a group of friends and create a group chat just for cheering each other up and sharing funny or inspirational memes and quotes. It’s amazing how much a little bit of love can help when you’re down.
Draw an ugly picture
This might sound a bit weird but drawing a picture that you make ugly on purpose can be a great way to get out some ugly feelings, while also taking the pressure off you to produce a beautiful perfect piece of art. You don’t need fancy art materials, a pencil or some felt pens and a bit of scrap paper does fine.
What do you need to hear about yourself right now? Do you want to be told you are strong? Kind? Creative? Special? Deserving of love and affection? Write it out as a message to yourself.
“I am [your name] and I am [what you need to hear].”
Repeat this several times. It sounds silly, but it can really help you to feel better.
Get outside in nature
Spending time in green spaces has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and seasonally affective disorder. It can improve memory, cognitive function and self-esteem. It doesn’t matter what sort of green space you visit, just taking time to be outdoors somewhere that feels natural can boost your mood. Read more on this here.
Have a stretch
There are lots of beginner yoga videos online and you’d be amazed how much better you can feel after 10 minutes of deep breathing and stretching out tense muscles. If you feel like you’ve been at your desk too much lately then this could be just what you need.
Use a stress-relieving app
The NHS has a great list of recommended apps to help you sleep better, get support if you’re feeling low, recognise and respond to unhelpful thought patterns and more. Most of them are free or very low cost.
Get debt-free and start saving
I know it doesn’t sound like much of a treat but knowing that you don’t owe anyone money and that you have something put aside for emergencies can bring a great deal of peace of mind. Providing that peace is a very caring thing you can do for yourself.
Martha Lawton is a former financial adviser who has been helping people to achieve financial well-being for over 12 years. Martha is the creator and host of the podcast Squanderlust. You can connect with her on Twitter @marthalawton Instagram and Pinterest