Self compassion- that’s what the greater majority seek for themselves yet don’t know how to put into play. What does this look like in practice? There has never been a more pressing time for a hard reset, a refocusing on our overall wellness. This serves as an act of defiance when daily life serves to be nonstop strenuous and taxing. At the heart of the matter, we’re all carrying something more tender than what we are willing to share. The performance of face masks and bubble baths won’t heal those deeper heartaches when our pressing need is for internal validation as well as the luxury of being seen, heard and understood by those who matter to us.
Consistent acts of self love and care can bring with them a reckoning. Nowadays, they are considered petty indulgences. The truth however is that they can be hard work and don’t always come naturally or present as an initial thought. This is especially true if we have other obligations or are taught that our attention should be on others and filling their cups first and foremost. Family, work, school, pets, bills, homes- they all demand our attention and simultaneously. Why add something else to our ever growing list of tasks, especially if it will feel forced and inauthentic? We must reframe our perspective around wellness practices by gently reminding ourselves that self care and self respect go along with each other. If the idea of implementing a complicated routine overwhelms and fills you with anxiety, remember that self care can be a framework that already exists within your daily routine.
Below you’ll find a hundred ideas for taking care of yourself on a budget. I can understand and empathise with those who feel the deficit extends beyond self care and into finances too. I’d also like to mention that today’s post is part of an overall collaboration with a group of kindhearted and dedicated bloggers that I’m honoured to call my friends. We are focusing on a nurturing theme of self care and sharing a variety of unique posts tailored to you and your needs. Catherine and I have posts that are live today, Isabella and Meghan are sharing on the sixteenth, Pati and Zainab the seventeenth and Imaan and Christina on the eighteenth.
Self Care at Home
Begin by washing your bedding, towels, robes, curtains and the like. Oftentimes they are affected by light, temperature, dust, sweat, grime and natural oils. Once you’ve re-fitted them in their proper places, breathe deeply and remind yourself that stagnancy and unrest are non linear- you may not be able to predict when they’ll arise but they tend to shift and morph to allow room for you to maintain a positive mindset. Sometimes we all just need a little tumble dry.
Clear off every surface in your home, giving it a good wipe or dust down. Use a natural cleaner infused with essential oils. Consider this a practice in clearing away mental clutter.
Take time to re-organise your wardrobe with the eventual goal of experiencing overwhelming joy when you open the doors. Of seeing yourself fully represented in your fashion style and choices. This isn’t a chore to begrudgingly cross off your list- it can be an intentional engagement of your creativity in order to enjoy your daily routines more thoroughly.
Change up the layout of your home, whether by nudging the couch to the left or adopting a minimalist decor style. Disrupt your flow in a positive and proactive way, paying attention to the unspoken rules of Feng Shui. Just as we are energy beings, there is a concert circuit that runs throughout our living spaces. It can either be opened up and embraced or restricted. Choose wisely.
Clean out your purse or everyday bag. Considering investing in a vegan and ethically made piece that will stay hardy for times to come if your current item is worn.
Wipe the leaves of your houseplants to give them a pearly shine and allow them to drink in water better. Place them in moderate sunshine and, while you’re at it, sit in the sunlight with them. Soak it the warm revitalising rays with a good layer of sunscreen to protect you from overexposure.
Close off a quiet, uncluttered corner of your home and turn it into your meditation spot. Your zen corner will fast become a space to unwind in solitude after constant interaction and immersion in the outside world. There you can allow yourself to spend time quietly reconnecting with your thoughts, setting intentions or directing your focus towards doing the inner work. Utilise this space as your haven, a rare and beautiful opportunity to find moments of calm and connection with self amidst the chaos.
Update some of your makeup and beauty products that are expired. Attempt to recycle or refill old ones if possible. Lush, for example, have switched to biodegradable packaging made of natural vegetable starch. They also have an incentive program in place that allows you to returns a certain number of empty tubs of product in exchange for a fresh one. Search your cupboards for a bag to store your items in, after you’ve finished culling. Extra points if your bag of choice is floral like mine!
List the tasks that have been weighing on you and get them done, one by one. Go the traditional route and put pen to paper or, if you’d so prefer, use a smart app like minimalist which is equipped with a pomodoro timer. This technique uses a timer to break down work into manageable intervals, typically twenty five minutes in length. This is separated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a pomodoro, coined from the the italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo developed this method as a University student and it is an ode to his tomato shaped kitchen timer.
Spend time earthing, digging your feet into the soft grass or dirt and let yourself be grounded. When you tire of this, lay back and cloud watch. Did you know that clouds are categorised depending on their height in the sky? Here are the different types: The highest are known as cirrus, the middle alto, multi level are nimbostratus, cumulus and cumulonimbus and the lowest are stratus.
Recycle your old newspapers, junk mail and magazines. Consider upcycling them for a craft project. Flip through the pages and create a themed collage or moodboard. You may also wish to note down deals that are on at the time or tear out coupons.
Add a bouquet of blooms to your home. They will bring you equal bliss whether they are from the florist, farmer’s market or your local grocery store. You could also forage one from flora already on the ground. Even better, get crafty and upcycle old tissue paper into permanent floral fixtures. Watch an origami tutorial and you’ll find yourself inspired
Organise your finances on a spreadsheet. This will be much easier for teens as you can identify spending trends and purchases that were less out of necessity and more driven by want. You won’t yet have to keep track of taxes, bills, mortgages and other stressors. In the very least, they’ll be significantly limited. Organise your finances and create an accessible and sustainable budget. Securing yourself financially, to the best of your ability, can remind you how valuable your time truly is.
Light a candle, burn some sage or incense, turn on an essential oil diffuser- whatever takes your fancy. Surround yourself with scents that evoke a memory or set an uplifting mood. Recalling happy nostalgic memories can be of a great benefit to you.
Make a blanket fort with your couch cushions and then read a book by flashlight under the covers. Remember, even for twenty minutes in time, what it’s like to be a carefree kid again.
Polish your jewelry with an anti oxidising wipe, freshen up your makeup brushes, wipe down your mirrors and clean your glasses. Replace any grime with a little shine.
Sort through your home library and organise your books by color or genre. Put aside anything you no longer wish to keep or haven’t read in a while. Consider lending a few favourites to trusted neighbours and friends who share your interest. If possible, contribute to a street library. Many city areas will have little mailboxes where you can deposit books and pick up a new read. As a writer, I know the gift of words is utterly priceless and not to be taken lightly.
Create some art for your walls. Get out your coloured pencils, paints or oil pastels. If you’d prefer, create a photo wall with your photos or art prints found online. Decorate your space with what inspires you.
Organise your digital photos into separate folders on iCloud, Google Drive or even on your desktop. Take your time with the activity and let yourself be distracted reflecting on all your favorite memories. Consider buying more storage to allow room for these collections of moments.
Self Care Hobbies
Give yourself an at home mani-pedi. Soak your hands and your feet, softening lines and callouses. Trim your cuticles, apply nail oil and then multiple layers of nail polish colours you adore- give yourself the gift of thoroughness. Perhaps you’d like to indulge in a spot of nail art. Find a quirky or eye catching pattern and attempt to recreate it.
Resist the urge to watch one more episode of your favourite show and swap in a gentle wind down activity for half an hour. This is especially important before bed time if you want to train your body clock. Do some stretching, reading or carry out a prolonged bedtime routine that you otherwise wouldn’t have time for.
Find a craft that works for you and join a club, if possible. You may find colouring, embroidering, crocheting, knitting, or needle punching to be soothing.
Ignore all you’ve been taught about video games and embrace a more mature, adult version that will instill peace in you. Journey is available on ps3 and ps4 gaming consoles. You play as an unnamed wanderer, journeying towards a distant mountaintop. Along the way, you work collaboratively with other travelers, all of whom happen to be real players.
Switch up your morning routine and opt for coffee, breakfast, and a shower before you go to check your phone. Take your time and use a french press with a fresh bean or powder blend. Make yourself a breakfast fit for royalty. Have your favourite salted caramel and banana pancakes been relegated to the too hard basket on weekdays? Wake up earlier and make the time.
Sketch the things you see in the room around you, then fill them in with colour. This is an exercise in presence where you can let your mind unwind and practice gratitude for the here and now. Notice what you are drawn to. Is it a himalayan salt lamp, alluring with its golden glow? Is it the vibrant and diverse fruit bowl or pom pom cushions?
Write poetry, whether your words are light, sorrowful, Shakespearean or angsty. Get to know yourself through your poems and refuse to judge.
Borrow an audiobook or podcast series from your local library and listen to it while you’re cooking, cleaning, crafting or exercising.
Plan an intentional theatre night in advance, instead of just winging it and wasting time choosing your movie and snack selection. Keep to a theme. Maybe you’re drawn to romantic comedies, classics, vintage films or cartoons you’d watch as a kid. Pick out enough for a marathon and then decide on a guest list. Prep your snacks and cozy blankets. Remember that a charcuterie board is always a good idea.
Attend a virtual concert by yourself or with your cohabitants and make a date of it. Operas and Indie music are always quite special.
Mend your well loved garments or ask someone else to aid you in the process. You’ll find that you may not need a seamstress. This can be an easy way to feel more put together and restore life into your wardrobe.
If you’ve turned one of your hobbies into a business, set aside regular time to spend participating in your hobby like the good old days. Remember the passion you had and your reason behind partaking in this activity in the first place. Chances are that it wasn’t always for income and that you’d fallen into it once realising your skill. If you’re a professional photographer, go out on a meandering photo walk. If you’re in school, try learning or reading something new that isn’t on your syllabus.
Bake yourself some fresh bread. Embrace the slowness of the process and indulge in the physical presence that kneading requires. Take in the crisp smell of the dough as it rises and, later on, the healthy crackle and crunch of the bread as you break it.
Whip up your favorite meal- a pasta dish with garlic bread is a crowd winner. Set the table with full silverware, put out a bottle of wine if you drink, have sparkling water on hand and ensure that your glasses are crystal-clean. Light a candle. Focus on presentation and remind yourself that you are worthy of beautiful, nourishing, and delicious food that ticks all your boxes.
Make extra food for dinner and package any leftovers into handy tupperware that you can easily access for lunch the next day. This way, you’ll have ample time to meal plan and ensure that your diet is balanced. While you’re at it, prepare some overnight oats and start your day on a good note.
If you’re a parent, read a book for and about yourself. Consider how you might approach your own self care and self talk in basic ways. Establish inner trust once more and give yourself that much needed pat on the back.
Lay out a blanket at night and stargaze. This is a perfect activity for those out in the country with sprawling fields, rolling hills and an empty unpolluted sky staring back at them. There is no goal here other than to open your eyes to the sheer immensity of the world. Succumb to your imagination.
Be a green thumb and plant something. Gardening, and even just the act of holding soil, has immense mental, emotional and physical benefits benefits. If you don’t have land, nurture a houseplant. A balcony is a good spot for outdoor plants that require a little more attention from mother earth by way of light and rain. If you don’t have houseplants, go outside and gently touch the plants around you on a morning walk. Stop and smell the roses.
Self Care for your Body
Pause whatever it is that you’re doing and drink a glass of water. Keep a full water bottle or cup beside you at all time. Let it be a gentle reminder that you must hydrate to perform at your best and maintain life.
Take three deep breaths and then name three things that surround you.
Store the grounds from your morning french press coffee to gently exfoliate your skin during your next lengthy shower.
Pour boiling water into a heat-safe bowl and then add a few drops of eucalyptus oil. Put a towel over it to provide cover. Carefully bring your face under the towel and enjoy the scent and the sensation of the steam. Just don’t get too close or you risk a burn.
Adorn your body in your favorite jewelry. Don’t save your occasion pieces for a vague one off event. Remind yourself that you are worthy of adornment and celebration. Mejuri has a beautiful range of affordable gold vermeil that I often reach for.
Try a DIY matcha face mask. Alternatively, rose petals make for an invigorating and dreamy masking session.
Make yourself a fruit platter. Dice apples, scoop out passion fruit, cut rockmelon, peel oranges, wash raspberries and blackberries, make melon balls. Use all that’s in season to decorate a luxurious tray with the scent and vibrancy of all your favourites. Enjoy a rainbow variety.
If you drink, especially to subdue confronting feelings that may arise, make an intentional decision to lean off of this crutch. Skip the alcohol and come to terms with your reality. Embrace what you can, recognise any truths and sleep soundly knowing that you can only wake up feeling better with the new day and a clean system.
Take ten minutes to stretch and warm your ligaments. Meet yourself wherever your body is at and understand that there is no need to set flexibility goals. You need only move your body within its limits and enjoy the embodied movement.
Practice self and guided massage to activate energy centres and cure a host of bodily ailments.
Practice a grounding stance. Stand up and fold forward to get your head below your heart. Feel the rhythmic yet gentle beating against your chest cavity. Cradle your elbows into one another and let your head dangle for a few moments, knowing that you are fully supported. Alternatively, scooch your bum to the nearest wall and rest your legs vertically on it while you breathe deeply.
Go for a walk, even if it’s just around the block. Attempt to take a new route or walk in your local park. There are many gorgeous and scenic bike paths around. If you live in the city, follow a stoplight walk where each time you come to a red light, you take a right turn. There are no stops and you get to take an unusual and unpredictable route.
Give yourself a self breast exam, no matter your age. Familiarise yourself with what’s normal and what isn’t normal for your body, checking for lumps, inconsistencies and points of pain. Bodies are normal and there’s no need to hold shame. It’s always best to be in tune with oneself rather out of touch.
Don’t turn on your morning alarm on days you don’t have to wake up early. If you have kids and a support person or partner, let them know that you’re taking a morning the morning to sleep in and they’re on-duty, at least for a couple of hours while you recoup.
Do something physically exerting to remind you of how capable your body is and how good being alive feels. Break down old cardboard boxes for recycling, sprint to the end of your block, jump rope in your driveway. Imagine your stress exhausting itself and leaving your body.
Roll out tension using a foam roller, massage ball or tennis ball, notice any tension being evened out and released.
Use a homemade sugar scrub to exfoliate your lips and then neatly apply your favorite lipstick or balm. Give your reflection a smile in the mirror and tell yourself something lovely. Kindness and words of affirmation escaping your lips is the ultimate beauty routine!
Get a lotion in your favorite scent. After your next shower, apply it generously and lovingly over every inch of your body. This body, with all its odd bits and bobs, is yours and has been your home for a lifetime. Commit to giving back and learning to love the process.
Schedule all appointments that support your wellbeing- you can schedule or make those visits all at once or slowly add to your list throughout the week. Even if making calls is stressful, gift your future self that time, knowing full well that it will only benefit you in the long run.
Take the medicine, vitamins and supplements that serve you and support daily functioning. Transition off of certain medicines when you feel it’s time, and if or when you have the proper support from your healthcare team.
Take the shower you would on your day off. Long, short, hot, cold, filled with luxurious products or an affordable bar of soap- bathe and refresh your body as it helps you face the world with your best foot forward.
During your morning or evening routine, take a few extra moments to brush your hair slowly or massage your scalp with a bit of coconut oil. This strengthens hair and can add a glowy sheen. Brush a few more times than you need to and make sure your head is free of knots and tangles.
Ask for a hug or physical touch that soothes you. Experts have found that a hug lasting twenty to thirty seconds is very beneficial for your overall health and can be a simple game changer.
Change your underwear and choose the comfiest clean pair you can find. Make sure your selection of intimates is empowering. Wash your bras in a lingerie bag. For those who are in a rut or are experiencing depression, this can be a powerful reminder that you deserve care, cleanliness and luxury at any given time.
Swap coffee for tea and have as many cups as you wish. Tea is hydrating and nourishing and the herbal sort is particularly good for you. It can also be easier on the stomach.
Surround yourself with sensory experiences- make sure there is plenty to smell, see, taste, touch and hear. Let yourself be amazed.
Self Care for your Mind
Find a quiet space to pray and remember that you don’t have to be of a specific religious persuasion to converse with the universe.
Spend twenty minutes unfollowing accounts on social media that make you feel less than. If you can’t unfollow, consider muting them. Chances are they’ll never know and you’ll feel lighter afterwards. That’s what matters.
Make a Spotify playlist containing all your favorite songs. Disappear into it and allow the memories associated with each song to wash over you and whisk you into a time or place gone by, even just for a moment.
Create or join a book club or a spiritual support community. Converse with others from different cultures and religions. Delve much deeper than small talk and learn about your similarities as well as what sets you apart.
Practice good phone hygiene! Clean your phone and update your system. Turn off all the distracting red notification bubbles that you don’t need.
Take pictures of everything you’re grateful for, wherever you are in the moment. Maybe start a private photo album of these pictures to revisit on difficult days. Turn your instagram into an online gratitude diary for a month and watch this simple practice become essential.
Make yourself a chai latte and unsubscribe to every unnecessary email list. Clear your inbox so future you can clear their mind. If you’ve done a serious declutter and need new inbox content, I’d suggest subscribing to newsletters and posts from bloggers. I enjoy the Good Trade, The Daily Stoic, Frankie Magazine, Collective Gen and more.
Enroll in therapy or research alternative options if you’re unable to. 7Cups is a great online resource that connects trained listeners to members and alleviates a variety of mental health concerns through some genuine connection and kindness.
Snuggle your pets and enjoy the dopamine release this brings.
Create and curate your dream lifestyle through a Pinterest moodboard. Let yourself be stirred and inspired.
Allow yourself to indulge in a daydream while you’re walking, listening to music or cleaning the house. When a strange idea or memory comes to mind, don’t push it away. Follow the story and access memories that may have been blocked.
Take a free online class or course that teaches you a new skill. Khan Academy has a wide selection.
Organize your Google Drive, desktop, and home screen using the additional features in one of Apple’s latest updates. Set your background to an image or quote that inspires and supports you.
Set a reminder containing a positive affirmation for yourself somewhere in the future. Perhaps you have exam week coming up and know that you’ll wrestle with feelings of inadequacy. Ask Siri to remind you that your inherent value does not diminish based on external factors and that opportunities for growth can always be seen in a positive light.
Update your passwords and keep yourself safe online.
Read one of your favorite books from when you were younger. If it’s a picture book, have a reading session where you share it with your child and set the scene for them as your parent did. Watch a favorite movie that makes you feel something, eat your favorite childhood snacks. Remember what entertainment brought you joy as a kid.
Have a picnic at your local park and invite a group of friends. Wear beautiful dresses, blouses, skirts and the like. Impress yourself.
Plan something in advance, whether it’s as small as the kind of takeout you’ll order on Friday or as optimistic as the month long vacation you wish to take in a year’s time. Having something to look forward to can help you stay motivated and remind you that bigger and better things are constantly on the horizon. Life is not about counting the moments as much as it is making the moments count.
Practice generosity through selfless donating or volunteering. Whatever it is, do it quietly and intentionally for a cause that is meaningful to you. No bravo or applause needed.
Say no to answering questions that are easily answered with a Google search. Your time and energy are worthy of boundaries and should be protected.
Begin listening to positive affirmations and high vibration/frequency music to manifest the life you deserve now. Find visible or memorable ways to do this daily. Use notes on your mirror or lunchbox, for example.
Journal and pour your heart out. Nobody else will read what you’ve written bar yourself. Find deep and meaningful writing prompts for that which is most prevalent in your life, whether it be an emotion or situation.
Write down your biggest aspirations and hope for yourself, even if they’re crazy and scare you. Whatever you put your mind to is achievable. There is no limits to the power of a person with work ethic and self belief.
Find your enneagram number, read up on your birth chart, take a Meyer-Briggs assessment and engage mindfully in these things to connect more deeply with yourself. It’s not as simple as being told who you are but you will be able to figure out more about the ways you move about in the world.
Write a letter to your younger self. What do you know now that younger you would be astounded by? Then, handwrite a note to your present self. What has changed most dramatically?
If positive self-talk is difficult for you, consider practicing neutral self talk. Take the small steps that work for you but treat yourself with the same generosity and understanding that you would extend to another person.
Write out your values and go on to analyse what is most important to you. How can you more deeply prioritize these things in your daily life?
Remind yourself of who you are beyond a name, title or what you are in relation to others. Seek to address yourself in a manner that sheds all labels. How would you describe the person you are? Maybe you’re a parent or a child—but what more is there to you below the surface?
Track your moods for a week. Put names to what you’re feeling every two hours or so and reflect on the way your moods fluctuate. What impacts them positively or negatively and what sort of extremes of emotion do you experience?
Text a trusted friend how you’re feeling. It’s okay to be direct about what you need, whether that’s a listening ear, a loving word or tender advice.
Forgive someone, even and especially if it’s yourself.