Practicing self-care is important since there’s only one you. We all have to take good care of ourselves (mind, body, and spirit) in order to be able to work, care for our families, and meet other responsibilities. However, self-care often falls low on the priority list for some busy people.
This is often due to lack of time or even lack of money. On the bright side, you don’t need a ton of money to practice self-care. The same can be said for your time. Here are 9 proven tips for practicing self-care on a budget.
Define What Self Care Means To You
This is the first and most crucial step. Self-care means something different for everyone. So define what it truly means to you. What does it look like to put yourself first and prioritize your mental and physical health? Oftentimes, this involves doing things you can do at home for free or no money.
Identify where, when, and how you plan to practice self-care so you can start estimating what you might spend. For example, if self-care means going on a weekly date night for your spouse, or taking a nice vacation twice a year, you’ll want to plan for this.
Self-care can also include smaller daily habits that you wish to adopt and see value in. Start making a list and brainstorming ideas. Basically, focus on what fills your cup each day and contributes to your overall wellness.
Add It to the Budget
Once you know what self-care should look like for you, add it to your budget so you can plan your spending. This could be a budget category specific to self-care or money that’s set aside for activities that are part of your self-care plan. Start with what you can even if it’s just $20 to $50 per month. Knowing that you have a budget for practicing self-care will allow you to step out and spend your money on things that matter guilt-free.
In addition to budgeting your money, make sure you budget your time as well. I like to work self-care into my morning routine for 15 to 30 minutes each morning. That way, I’m getting my day off to a good start and not trying to cram in self-care later on.
Look at your schedule and make room for self-care and resting as needed. You may need to change other existing plans in your calendar around and that’s okay.
Move Your Body
Take care of your physical body by moving it daily. This is especially important if you have a desk job that doesn’t require much physical activity. Take a class at the gym when you have time during the week or do exercises at home. Aim for around 30 minutes of movement a few times per week.
Sometimes you have to get creative and pair movement with another activity that needs to get done. When you can though, focus on investing back into all that your body does for you on a daily basis by rewarding it with some intentional movement. Again this can be scheduled and added to your daily routine whether it involves walking your dog, riding your bike, or completing an exercise challenge.
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Reading provides an excellent opportunity to relax and escape in a good book. Reading also helps you learn new things and retain information better. This is why I recommend reading a mix of both fiction and nonfiction books. You can make a reading list for the month or year and rent books from your library or download audiobooks online.
Try to set aside a fixed amount of time to read each week. You’d be surprised at what 15 minutes of reading per day can do for your mental health. This could be done during your lunch break in the mornings or after dinner before you turn on the television.
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Get the Proper Amount of Rest
The average adult needs between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Make sure you’re getting in by determining when you want to wake up each morning than working backward. So for example, if you want to wake up around 6 am each morning, you’ll need to get to bed no later than 10pm or 10:30 pm to make this possible and remain well-rested.
Once you know your desired bedtime, start preparing with your nightly routine about an hour earlier. Also, listen to your body if you feel you need more sleep. There’s nothing wrong with scheduling a nap on the weekends or on your off day at work.
Leave intentional gaps in your schedule and be okay with saying no to certain things if you want to remain well-rested and get the proper amount of sleep each night.
Socializing is good for the soul and something that many of us desperately missed during the peak of the pandemic. Prioritize socializing with friends and family regularly and realize this doesn’t always have to be an outing. You can get on a video call with a friend or relative or meet with someone for coffee on a Saturday morning to catch up. Or perhaps there’s a weekly trivia night event that you can attend with a few friends.
Too often, we spend a lot of time on social media without really connecting with others. This doesn’t serve our natural need for human interaction and socialization.
Fuel Your Body
I’m a major foodie, but as I get older I start to realize that food is really just fuel. When I eat too much junk food or don’t have enough vegetables during my meals, I feel sluggish, tired and unmotivated. It’s important to make sure you’re eating food that’s healthy, tastes great, and has whole ingredients.
Snacking and junk is okay occasionally, but try to find a happy medium and make high quality food in an an exciting way. This could be making your own homemade granola or protein bites, juicing or preparing smoothies in the morning, or having weekly grill nights with high-quality cuts of meat.
Plan a Quarterly Splurge or Outing
Sometimes, self-care means doing something lavish for ourselves whether it’s going to get a massage or a facial. Or perhaps it’s splurging on a nice meal for date night. These activities can feel so great, but they can also cost quite a bit. Manage costs by planning a quarterly self care splurge or outing. That way, you give yourself a few months to save up for the activity so it can better fit your budget.
Use Coupons and Earn Rewards
Practicing self care on a budget is much easier when you use coupons and earn rewards. Check out sites like Groupon and Living Social to find deals on self care activities, restaurants, outings and more. You can also utilize rewards sites for cashback to help supplement some of your out-of-pocket costs as well.
Consider using Rakuten and Fetch Rewards or Ibotta to earn cashback on your regular purchases for groceries and household items. Then, you can use those rewards to help fund your self care activities.
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Prioritizing self care is someone anyone can do with the right planning and motivation. You’ll want to plan your time and your finances carefully so that self-care becomes an important part of your regular routine. Use these ideas to help you determine what self-care means to you and how you prefer to practice it and fill your cup.