Self-care is supposed to be anything that we deliberately do to care of ourselves—whether physically, emotionally or mentally. At its core, self-care is a pretty basic idea, but for some reason, it’s become an indulgent, over-the-top practice that’s only associated with fancy (read: expensive) things. As a beauty blogger, I obviously love a good face mask or mani-pedi and admit that, because I enjoy those things, they do make me feel better. But I’ll also admit that I’ve never applied a face mask only to wash all my problems away with it thirty minutes later.
Associating self-care with luxury makes it feel out of reach for a lot of people. If your idea of self-care is a face mask and a CBD bubble bath, there’s no judgment here. But taking care of yourself and prioritizing your mental health doesn’t have to come with a steep price tag. As the holidays approach, I wanted to put together a list of ways to practice self-care that are entirely free of charge.
Clean your house
Whenever I’m in a funk, the first thing I do is stop cleaning my apartment. And then I’m in a funk and I’m living in squalor, which just makes the funk worse. One way that I’ve learned to deal with this is dedicating 10 minutes to cleaning by setting an alarm and just starting. You’d be surprised by how much you can get done in 10 minutes. Sometimes, I’ve had enough after 10 minutes but typically, I’ll see what a difference a few minutes has made and I’m motivated to do even more. Having a clean living space does wonders for your mental health.
Phone a friend
I know that for anyone under the age of 30 making an actual call seems like an unorthodox way to use your phone, but it helps (for me, at least). If talking on the phone isn’t your cup of tea, reach out to a friend or family member in any way that you prefer—but I always find that I feel better after talking to someone I’m close with. You don’t necessarily have to talk about your problems or what (if anything) is bothering you—sometimes just catching up and shooting the shit is enough to lift your spirits.
Limit time spent on social media
As someone who works in social and digital media by day and also moonlights as a blogger, it might surprise you that I would suggest staying off social media. Here’s the deal: social media is not always good for our collective mental health—especially around the holidays. I can’t be the only person who feels like the Grinch as I scroll through Facebook (hate, hate, double hate). If you’re not feeling very merry this Christmas, the last thing you want to be bombarded with is millions of posts from people who are. Sometimes taking a break from social media—or blocking/muting/unfollowing accounts/people who you can’t deal with right now or make you feel bad about yourself is just what you need.
Set healthy boundaries
This is something that I’m actually working really hard on because I really struggle with it. As a habitual people pleaser, I have the hardest time telling people no, so for me, boundaries feel really scary—and they make me feel really guilty. This holiday season I’m working on saying no without apologizing (i.e., “Now isn’t a good time;” “I really appreciate the invite, but I won’t be able to make it;” “That sounds like a lot of fun, but I’m taking some time for myself this weekend”) and setting boundaries (“let’s not discuss this topic at dinner;” “I’m heading to my room to get some quiet time.”) In really simple terms, setting boundaries means knowing and understanding what your limits are—and they’re key to healthy relationships.
I (obviously) like writing. Of all the writing that I do, I think that journaling is my favorite. I’ve had countless “diaries” over the years, but in the last few months, I made a concerted effort to start journaling because it helps me feel better. The writing doesn’t have to be polished, it doesn’t have to be grammatically correct or flow properly—you just have to get your thoughts out of your brain and onto some paper (or a Google Doc, or whatever you feel like). There are a ton of proven benefits to journaling, mentally, physically and emotionally. You don’t have to be Shakespeare, just grab a 50 cent notebook from Target and get started.
What ways do you practice self-care?