It can sometimes feel selfish to dedicate time and energy to loving yourself, but self care is 100% necessary for your mental well-being. Plus: YOU ARE WORTH IT. I know you’ve heard that phrase hundreds of times, but your health and happiness truly is important, and you deserve some TLC.
Because many of us are dealing with tough financial situations, my gift to you is this list of inexpensive (or FREE) happy-making activities that will leave you feeling filled with self-love. If you really want to go for it, you can set aside one day a week to do each one of these things!
1. Throw a home yoga session with friends
All you need to have a private yoga class with your besties is a laptop, smart phone or yoga book from the library. Your studio is wherever your mat is, so be creative! Take it to the backyard, your living room, or the roof if you’re feeling ambitious. I love this YouTube channel that offers quick (and longer) guided sessions to suit your needs and your mood. Namaste!
2. Take a fancy lady bath
That’s right, everyone. Bust out your Enya CD, light some candles, fill the tub and mix in some epsom salts, because you’re taking a fancy bath. Setting aside a half an hour for bath time is a wonderful way to soothe your body and your mind. Candles made with essential oils will relax and calm you as the hot water and salts do their magic on your muscles.
3. Get out your crayons
Coloring is not just for kids, in fact there are plenty of adult colorers out there, and lots of really awesome coloring books created with adults in mind. Even if you don’t consider yourself visually creative, coloring is a surprisingly effective stress reliever. It helps to focus on something that is light, fun and in the moment. Hey, if you’re good at it, you’ll wind up with some nice new decor!
4. Meditate, even just a little
I know, I know, mediation can be daunting at first. Sitting still and witnessing—but not reacting to—the frenzy of your mind is majorly challenge. It’s also majorly rewarding. Meditation is not simply about relaxation but practicing mindfulness—a tool you can apply to your daily life any time you’re feeling overwhelmed. And, if you’re just starting out, even five minutes of meditating can be truly effective. Also effective—guided meditation apps, like The Calm app, and Stop, Breathe & Think. Both have something to offer beginners and experienced meditators. Set aside some time for meditation every day for a week and watch how quickly it changes your life.
5. Give big ol’ hugs
Human touch is very powerful. When we feel down, giving and receiving a long, cuddly hug will do wonders for our self-esteem. Hugs not only help prevent and relieve stress, they can even help us avoid some infections. According to a 2014 Carnegie Mellon study, psychology researchers “found that greater social support and more frequent hugs protected people from the increased susceptibility to infection associated with being stressed and resulted in less severe illness symptoms.”
Hugs are a physical reminder that we are loved and supported, even if we’re the ones hugging ourselves! One study, by University College London, showed that “crossing the hands over the body midline impairs [the brain’s] ability to localize tactile stimuli.” In plain language, self-hugging “confuses” the brain just enough to potentially reduce symptoms of physical pain. Basically, hug yourself and feel better. That’s easy enough.
6. Read a fave book from your childhood
When we need a break from the chaos, reading something nostalgic that reminds us of a relaxing moment from our childhood can be soothing and drama-free. Also, it’s no big commitment. (Hey, you already know what happens in the end.) Seriously, grab that Baby-Sitter’s Club stack from your old room at your parents’ house and save it for times when you need to decompress in the silliest, most pleasurable way possible. Another option: delve into some beautiful, inspiring self-care blogs. Heart & Hands‘ completely adorable, visually soothing online ‘zine has more great ideas for taking care of yourself, as well as some truly motivating affirmations that will help the loving vibes sink in.
It can be really hard to get in the habit of self-care when we’re so used to pushing ourselves to the point of exhaustion, but guys, it’s so so important. We put so much energy into work, maintaining relationships, and sometimes merely getting through the day can be a challenge. Treat yourself gently, and seriously take a nice bath. *hug*