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If I had a pound for every time I saw an article on self care that involved purchasing products that are so expensive their total could probably pay my rent for the month, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be writing this post.
The fact of the matter is, I don’t always have a spare £50 to buy expensive bath products, or £30 for the latest gold plated face mask, or even £10 to take myself out to the nearest artisanal kale-infused hipster coffee shop. In fact, I NEVER have the funds to justify any of these expenses, and even if I did, chances are I wouldn’t be spending my spare cash on such menial things, I would be much more responsible and buy myself a damn takeaway.
So, if you are like me and want to take time for yourself (a very healthy habit to get into) but don’t want to declare bankruptcy, here is some self care advice for when you are poor AF.
Have a Bath
Baths do not have to be full of essential oils and lush bath bombs to be a fantastic and cheap way to take time for yourself. Baths are, in my opinion, one of the greatest acts of self care there is. The hot water can soothe sore muscles (often a symptom of depression and anxiety that is completely overlooked) and lying there means you force yourself to take time out of the day to actually relax. You can have a bath that is just that, warm water, or you can get yourself some cheap bubble bath or use your shower gel to make it feel a little more luxurious (let’s be honest they are pretty much the same thing.) Also baths have the added bonus of making you feel clean with minimal effort, so they are perfect for those times where you may have been sat around for so long you just feel gross, and taking a shower seems like far too much effort.
I’m not going to preach anything hippy-dippy to you, that is not why I am here, but meditation is actually a wonderful way to quieten down your thoughts and be more mindful of yourself. There are hundreds of guided meditations on YouTube, which I find way easier to follow than just trying to sit there and clear my mind on my own. (I’m pretty sure that’s impossible.) You don’t have to sit with your legs in crazy positions or go to great lengths to attend a class, you can just sit in your usual spot on the sofa or lie down in bed and listen to a free meditation online. I personally love to do this when I am struggling to sleep (which is always) and often find I can’t make it to the end without dozing off, which brings me to my next point…
Have a Nap
Escapism is not always the healthiest way to deal with our problems, but sometimes it is exactly what we need. We might not be able to afford a weekend retreat to a cabin in the woods, or two weeks all inclusive in Majorca but EVERYONE can afford to sleep. It’s free! Often times we will be completely exhausted so consistently that we almost forget what it feels like to be rested; we can get so caught up in the worries and busy-ness of life that the idea of taking a nap seems like an insane waste of time. But, and listen to me here because this is important: TAKING TIME TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF IS NEVER A WASTE OF TIME!!!!! I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure that you are OK, and taking a nap when you are so exhausted you don’t know what to do with yourself is perfect for doing just that. Scared you’ll sleep for too long? That’s what alarms are for, and if you take a nap somewhere that isn’t your bed (on the sofa, in an armchair, on the floor of your local supermarket) chances are you won’t sleep for as long as you’re worried you will anyway.
Have a Brew
This might be the most English way to deal with stress ever, but there is a reason we offer our friends and family a cup of tea when they are upset. Warm drinks are soothing and relaxing, and you don’t need artisanal chamomile blend loose leaf tea to treat yourself, just have whatever you keep at home! Don’t get me wrong, I personally LIVE for peppermint tea, I find it super relaxing and the mint is perfect for soothing my anxious stomach, but if herbal is not your thing there is nothing wrong with regular old builders brew tea—it's a classic after all. Having a literal tea break can help in many ways, the ritual of making the tea can bring us out of a negative thought cycle and into the present moment, and giving ourselves the time to sit and enjoy it can allow us to process and deal with any stress that may be happening at that time. So go on, stick the kettle on—you deserve it.
Go for a Walk
Plot twist—walking is free! I know some days getting out of the house can feel like a mammoth task (trust me, I’m an agoraphobe) but being outside can work wonders for your mental wellbeing. There are tons of studies that say that being around nature can improve your mental health, and tons more that say exercise has the same effect (I would source them but I am a uni student and referencing makes me want to pull out each individual eyelash and set them on fire) so why not kill two birds with one stone and get both benefits in one! (Disclaimer: please don’t actually kill any birds while out on your walk, that is not self care.) Even if you don’t feel like going far even walking up and down your road can help. It’s more about getting out of your stagnant state and environment than going on a 10 mile hike, but if you want to hike for 10 miles, more power to you. If walking seems like a stretch, try wandering around your garden, you will still get fresh air and exercise, or if that is also daunting, try opening your curtains and windows and letting the fresh air come to you.