Self Care on a Budget: 15 FREE self care ideas
If you’re looking for an easy way to take yourself and recharge your battery without spending a dime then keep reading because the following tips are completely free.
You’ve probably found other “free” self care tips and rolled your eyes because they actually do cost an earlier investment.
($8.50 bubble bath and $20 candles anyone?)
But keep reading because each of the 15 easy simple FREE self care tips below will not cost you penny.
To build a concrete desire for self care let's discuss why people indulge in self care activities
This is a guest post by Mrs. A. Grace Martin scroll until the end for more information on this guest blogger!
Let’s start with our motivation.
Why do some people practice self care?
There has to be a solid “why” for your self care no matter how small.
Some people use money as a motivator. Buying a self care product or service and guilting themselves into using it because it cost so much.
However, since these tips are free, you might find the next reason to be something you can identify with.
Self care can be a fun challenge
How much pleasure and value can you build from these simple techniques?
Start right now with rating your sense of peace, calm, relaxation, energy, and rejuvenation on a scale of 1 to 10.
After you’ve done one thing for your self care, check in and repeat. Since there is no financial limit on these activities, you can easily choose to do three a day.
Yup, three things a day.
That’s my challenge to you. Choose three things from this list to enjoy TODAY.
Why? Because self care needs to be a daily priority in your life.
Why is self care important
There are seven pillars of self care according to the International Self Care Foundation which include
knowledge and health literacy
and rational use of products and services.
This post focuses on the mental wellbeing and physical activity pillars of self care.
Self care is healthy living
Self care is not just a buzz word that means go get a massage or take a bubble bath. It’s an approach to healthier living.
Who can’t afford to live healthy these days? Take your self care seriously and it will save you tons of money in the future by avoiding illness and centering your wellbeing to make better life choices.
Need a clearer headspace for writing that budget? Hit up some self care.
What is self care?
Self care is so important that even the World Health Organization has a definition for it.
WHO defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
WHO also states that self care encompasses a wide range of factors, including socioeconomic factors like income level.
These tips will launch you right over that financial barrier and have you investing some time in nourishing your soul.
15 FREE self care tips to energize your life
You don’t have to be well-versed in meditation approaches to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness. It won’t cost you a cent, either.
Observe your thoughts without judgment
You can sit or lay down, close your eyes, and notice the gaps between your thoughts.
Observe your thoughts, allowing them to slow down and float by without judgement or attachment to the fact that you are thinking.
Focus on counting
Count to ten while breathing in and out slowly and repeat. If you notice yourself engaging with your thoughts just start back at one.
If you lose track and notice you’ve counted past ten, just start back at one.
There isn’t an end goal, so you can be free to stay present and allow your mind to slow down.
The benefits go beyond a mental reset to physical relaxation, too.
Walk, run, or do cardio in your living room.
Use your own body weight to rep out some lunges, squats, push ups, and sit ups.
Move by dancing to the beat of your own drum or do jumping jacks, air punches, high knees and butt kicks.
Whoever said you need an expensive membership to get in a good workout?
You don’t need to invest in anything but self-motivation when it comes to exercising at home.
Not all of us are up for a full workout when we are run down.
If this is you, then yoga or light stretching will be more up your alley.
When you stretch in the morning, it’s a good idea to do dynamic stretches with alternating lunges or flow yoga style with arms that go up on the inhale and stretch deeper on the exhale.
Before bed, do static or stationary stretches held for at least ten seconds to prepare your body for sleep.
Click here to see a few simple easy examples of dynamic and static stretching
4. Deep breathing
Air is free!
Good thing, too, because your body demands oxygen constantly and needs to expel carbon dioxide or else your body’s health deficit skyrockets.
There are numerous deep breathing activities to help your body, mind, and spirit to relax.
Mindful breathing during stretching
While stretching, exhale into the movement, inhale to pause or gently pull back, and exhale to go deeper.
Release bad energy
While practicing mindfulness, you can visualize inhaling rejuvenation and exhaling any tension.
Realign your day
To prepare your body for the day or recenter yourself, inhale deeply into your abdomen, then your lower ribs, then your mid-chest, then your shoulders and underneath your collar bones.
Or while winding down you can try breath retention.
One method is to inhale for the count of five, hold for the count of five, and exhale for the count of five.
This is a great one to do before bed as it can help you to fall asleep.
For an activity that we spend a third of our lives doing, many of us don’t invest enough effort into it.
turn your devices off before bed (and save the batteries from unnecessary charging overnight)
do breathing activities
lay down with appropriate posture that won’t pinch a nerve or kink your neck
honor that you probably need more hours of rest than what you’ve been budgeting yourself.
Don’t cheap out on good quality sleep. It takes a long time to overcome a sleep debt and you can’t bank any for later, so every night is important for you to prioritize in your routine.
6. Connect with others
Wave hi across the way to your neighbour.
Say hello to your grocer and ask them how their day is going. Send an email to your coworker just checking in.
Social interaction is critical for your mental and physical health and is a great way to up to indulge in intentional daily self care.
When I was a kid, I’d play a game called The Sims.
As an adult surviving lockdowns, I started thinking of my socialization meter as needing to be filled up by heart-felt human interaction, much like a virtual character in a video game.
We often don’t realize how much we needed to visit with someone until we get the interaction we’ve missed and craved.
Don’t let yourself go too long without seeing others. Even introverts need socialization, too!
Videochat a loved one and give them a huge smile.
Smile for no particular reason at all, even if it feels silly.
Smiling dramatically improves your mood, and the moods of those around you.
When a person sees someone else smile, mirror neurons fire in their brain and interpret the signal as just as uplifting as if that person were smiling themselves.
Additionally, laughter is the best medicine and the health benefits of humor are well worth it!
Find something that makes you laugh, even if you force or fake it.
Your body’s parasympathetic nervous system doesn’t know the difference, which is great for you!
8. Gratitude list
Journaling is free, costing only the pen and scrap paper to write on, or a free app notepad on your device.
Even gratitude has proven benefits for your health.
It opens your heart up, improves mental and physical health, and increases empathy
More importantly for you, right now, is that you can feel better right now by listing everything that you deeply appreciate in your life.
Write down ten different things a day.
The novelty will force you to change your mindset to look for more things to be thankful for.
You’ll notice your focus in life changes, like pausing to enjoy the way the wind feels on your skin or how nice it is to sip coffee in the morning.
Write it all down and cherish the moment.
9. Music therapy
Music can actually help you to heal.
When you just need a moment for yourself, play some music.
Listen to songs that resonate with you at a soul level.
Everyone has their own jam and genre to suit their mood. Whether it’s headbanging to heavy metal or deep breathing to classical music, you can dance or sit in stillness with music.
You can go tech-free by pounding out a drum beat using your hands against your desk or can use free apps like YouTube.
My personal favorite is the soul song and music video Aloha Ke Akua by Nahko Bear. It’s ten minutes of beauty that gives me permission to just be.
10. Social media detox
Most of us spend a lot of time mindlessly scrolling through social media.
While there is so much good online, we can also become overwhelmed by the negative comment sections and hours long scrolling sessions.
Eye fatigue and online addictions can be overcome with some boundaries.
Limit screen time
Choose a few days when you do not need to access technology for work or social commitments and do a short cleanse for yourself.
Just turn it off, delete, or don’t log into your multitudes of apps and news.
When you do decide to re-enter the virtual social sphere, unfollow, unsubscribe, unfriend, and even block anyone who brings your energy down.
Your attention is too valuable to waste on others who are a detriment to your personal care and development.
Related post: 8 things to do in your 20s
11. Be in nature
Go for a walk to the nearest green space where you live.
If you can, take off your shoes and stand barefoot in the grass. Lean up against a tree and close your eyes. Listen for birds, squirrels, or other wildlife.
Reconnecting with nature does not need to include an expensive overnight trip to a mountain retreat.
By appreciating nature in all forms, including what is nearest to your home, you remember your connection to life beyond your four walls and nourish your need for inner peace.
Cognitively recognizing your presence in nature is a mindfulness practice that will both relax and re-energize you.
Find one small way to bring more greenery into your life, even if it’s as simple as staring at a plant as it grows day after day.
You can even water the plant and feel the importance of caring for another living thing.
12. Drink more water
Hello hydration! Did you know that most of us are dehydrated?
Dehydration brings about huge health issues, including shrinking your brain cells to cause headaches and accumulating kidney stones.
Get more water into your day by taking frequent water breaks.
If you can’t remind yourself to consistently sip your water, then chug back half a glass at a time, such as once every half hour at work.
Pausing to take water breaks reminds you that your body is not a machine, but even machines need maintenance.
Care for your body and know that you deserve more bathroom breaks, too!
13. Self massage and acupressure
Not everyone can afford professional services for self care.
That doesn’t mean that you have to cheap out on your health time.
You can use your own hands, some tennis balls, a soft bristle brush, or a roller to work out tension by massaging in circular motions or holding a muscular knot until it releases.
Dry brushing can be done with your fingertips, also called self lymphatic drainage.
Even acupressure can be done on your own if you just take some time for yourself to relax and hold each point.
14. Declutter and donate
Clutter gets in your way and subconsciously brings you down.
You deserve your own space, which includes not wasting your precious time searching for things you can’t find or cleaning objects that you don’t care for.
Clutter clearing is a freeing practice that reminds you how worthwhile your space is.
You don’t have to feel guilty about getting rid of things that do not serve you.
Not only is clutter clearing free, you can actually make some money off of it!
It feels so good to pass something you don’t need or use on to someone who will buy it from you.
If you don’t want to sell it, donate it and feel great about helping someone else out.
Finally, take some time to write down your feelings.
Check in with yourself
Process what is happening. If you’re angry or frustrated, then write it all down and destroy the paper afterward.
Describe your day and recall anything that brightened it.
The therapeutic aspect of journaling is that you can write unencumbered by format or expectations.
You deserve time to be alone with your feelings and work them out in a constructive way.
Without costing you money, journaling can let you become aware of your needs and feel better while doing it.
You can’t afford NOT to prioritize your self care.
Even if your wallet’s self care pocket is storing mothballs, or your budget line reads zero, start implementing these amazing tips and you’ll be feeling rejuvenated in no time.
It’s good for you, good for your bank account, and good for those around you when you show up as your best self!
Comment below to let us know what tip from this list of FREE self care ideas you'll be trying!
Meet our guest contributor
Mrs. A Grace Martin is a high school physics teacher, self help author, and mom of two.
Living in Alberta, Canada, this Wellness Potential Teacher, has published a self help book “My Physics Teacher Said: 10 Ways to Think Smarter and Live Better” and is creating an online course, “Essential Self Care.”
You can follow her on Instagram @mrsagracemartin