Adequate self-care is important for your health and productivity. After all, you recharge your phone when the battery is running low—why wouldn’t you do the same for you?
But with the idea of proper self-care gaining more steam, manufacturers have convinced consumers that in order to take “care” of themselves, they need Instagram-worthy scented candles, bath bombs, fancy oils, and $200 massages.
While those things are all very nice, you should know that you don’t need them in order to start treating yourself better.
You can throw all the essential oils you want at your problems, but if you’re not eating, sleeping, and exercising adequately, they won’t change a thing.
Free Self-Care Ideas
Make sure you’ve got all the basics covered with these 8 self-care ideas that won’t cost you a dime.
Meditation is just one of many things you can do for your health that won’t cost you a dime, and no, it’s not just an empty buzzword—meditation really works, and you don’t have to be a certified yogi to reap its many benefits!
Start with just a few minutes each day—when you wake up and just before you go to sleep are both great times to practice.
If you’re a beginner, you might find a few simple mindfulness exercises helpful. It’s not as hard as you might think: all you need to do is focus on your slow, deep breaths. When any other thoughts begin to intrude (and they will), simply dismiss them and return your attention back to the breath. That’s really all it takes!
You’ll find that a few minutes of daily meditation will help to reduce your anxiety, increase your focus, and brighten your overall state of mind.
2. Ditch Social Media
If you really want to do something good for your soul, try ditching social media (at least for a few days, or even just one day a week).
Why is that important?
Because all of the stuff you see online—the extravagant getaways, the “perfect” bodies, and those seemingly perfect relationships—really can influence you, and not in the best ways.
Seeing everyone else living their “best life” may cause you to feel dissatisfied with your own. But that’s because people only post what they want you to see online—virtually nothing goes unfiltered (if not a little photoshopped, too).
So do yourself a favor and take a little break from social media, if only every now and then. It’s good to detox, since, if left unchecked, social media addiction can prove just as toxic as any other drug.
3. Keep a Gratitude Journal
So, what can you do with that free time that’s not spent on social media? Practice gratitude!
Watching everyone’s picture-perfect lives on Instagram might lead you to forget all that you have to be grateful for.
Keeping a gratitude journal not only puts your present into perspective, but it can help guide you to where you want your life to be.
Gratitude journals don’t require much work—all you need to do is write down a few things each day that you’re grateful for. Your list can include anything, from your dog, to the beautiful weather, to that class that got cancelled last minute so you can spend more time with your family.
The best part is that you can do this exercise from anywhere, using a journal, your phone, or even a napkin—so don’t let anyone convince you that you need to spend $50 on some fancy designer notebook (unless you want to, of course).
4. Learn to Say “No”
Today, it seems like one of the biggest measures of status is how packed one’s calendar is. The more meetings, projects, and hobbies you take on, the more fulfilled your life is, right?
Not necessarily. Many of us are more overworked than ever, and the pressure we put on ourselves to do the most is a huge part of that.
Learning when and how to say no will help you to focus on what’s really important to you and your life without sacrificing your sanity in the process.
Remember that when you say “no” to something, you’re really saying “yes” to something else—something that matters to you, and is therefore worthy of your time and energy. So don’t feel guilty about turning down dinner invitations when you’d rather snuggle up with your dog, or even talking with your boss about tasks that really ought to be in someone else’s queue.
Saying “no” to the things that aren’t necessary or that drain more energy from your life than they add value can help you to stay better focused and actually get more of what matters done.
5. Eat the Right Foods
You didn’t think you could get through this list without a lecture on the importance of eating healthy, did you?
Though it might not be the most fun, fueling your body with the right foods will significantly impact how you feel (and even how you look).
You can flex all you want at the gym and use every fancy face mask you can find, but if you aren’t eating the right foods, you’re not really doing yourself any favors.
Start by balancing proteins, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables in your everyday diet and cutting back on sugary and processed foods as much as possible.
Something that can help make these changes easier is a good meal prep strategy: when you can plan and prepare your meals a few days in advance, you eliminate the danger of ordering takeout or grabbing fast food when you’re feeling lazy or too exhausted after work.
6. Stay Hydrated
It seems that there are few problems that water can’t solve, yet so many of us don’t drink enough of it.
Staying hydrated is not only necessary for your health, but it’s also great for your skin, treating headaches, keeping you energized, and more.
If you’re among the many people who don’t love the taste (or lack of taste) that water provides, you can boost flavor and pack even more benefits in by putting your favorite berries or fruits inside your bottle.
This will make the water more enjoyable to drink and provide you with extra vitamins and antioxidants.
7. Get Moving
This may be hard to believe, but if you’re feeling grouchy, tired, or in a slump, exercise might be the answer.
That’s easier said than done for those of us who sit in offices for 9 hours each day, but there are even plenty of exercises for the workplace that you can practice to stay active.
Track your progress with the best workout apps and find inspiration from videos, fitness tips, and more.
And if you’re not sure where to start on your fitness journey, there are plenty of online fitness classes that can help you get on your feet.
Never feel guilty about making enough time for sleep. Even if you have so much to do that you can’t imagine wasting time on some shut-eye, adequate sleep (that means AT LEAST 7 hours, though 8 is actually ideal) can actually boost your productivity.
While you may think you’re being more productive by not sleeping, the work you’re doing likely won’t be your best (or most productive) if you’re running on fumes.
Check out our 11 tips for better sleep to make sure you’re able to recharge your batteries each night and tackle everything that the day brings.
Before you go investing in expensive candles or crystals, make sure you’re taking care of yourself in all the basic, essential ways, like getting enough sleep, meditating, and staying hydrated.
You’d be amazed at how a few little changes to your daily routine can leave you feeling recharged, rejuvenated, and ready to take on another day!
What do you do to practice self-care? Share your ideas in the comments below!