Taking time to take care of yourself is important. A few minutes each day or a few hours every week to refresh your spiritual, mental, and physical well-being can go a long way.
Regardless of who you are, where you live, or what your monthly income looks like—self-care on a budget is more than possible—it’s essential.
While many people struggle to find just a handful of ways to practice self-care on a budget, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of 20. From free self-care ideas to cheap self-care activities, this list will have you relaxed, refreshed, and ready to tackle whatever life has in store.
Ready? Let’s get into it.
1. Take a Shower (or a bath)
Seem too simple? Sometimes the simplest things bring the greatest pleasures. Carve out extra time every day to take a hot shower (or bath if that’s your thing). Even if it means waking up an extra 20 minutes early, do it.
2. Take a Nap
The best free self-care idea? Take a nap. If you’re feeling tired, anxious or overwhelmed, a quick snooze will have you feeling better in no time.
3. Drink More Water
While it may not seem like it, drinking water is a cheap self-care activity that has a long list of health benefits.
4. Take the Stairs
Whether you work in a multi-level office building or enjoy spending time at the mall, opt for the stairs over the elevator or escalator. Not only will you experience physical benefits, but you’ll feel mentally empowered knowing you made the healthy choice.
5. Don’t Let Laundry Pile Up
This may not be the most obvious free self care idea out there, but there’s nothing more mentally exhausting than seeing dirty laundry pile up. Get that soiled laundry clean and that clean laundry folded as soon as possible. Avoid the mental exhaustion and take time to celebrate even these small wins.
6. Set Social Media Restrictions
A lot of parents set social media restrictions for their children and young teens, but what about adults? The effects of social media are just as mentally and emotionally damaging to adults as they are to teens. Set your own social media restrictions and be sure to follow them.
7. Put the Phone Down
Let’s face it. As a culture, we’re pretty tied to our phones. Leaving the house without our iPhone or Android seems as foreign to us as trying to decipher a second language. But studies have shown that by putting the phone down and engaging with those around us, we’re happier, more productive, and less stressed. Go on, give it a try!
Sometimes, self-care involves taking care of others. Local animal shelters, nursing homes, schools and parks are always looking for great volunteers. Without spending a dime, you’ll be able to connect with an organization close to your heart, do good in someone else’s life, and get a fresh perspective on your current circumstances. For a list of local opportunities, check out VolunteerMatch.
9. Get Outdoors
Make it a point to spend time soaking up the sun and breathing in fresh air everyday. Whether that means parking farther from the grocery store entrance, taking your dog on an evening stroll through the neighborhood, or just walking through your backyard barefoot, this free self-care idea will do wonders for your mind, body and spirit.
10. Call a Friend
Sometimes, the most effective self-care tip has to do with someone else. Pick up the phone and spend some time actually talking—not typing—to someone you care about. Be it an old friend, a new friend, or your mom—why not brighten someone’s day while brightening your own?
11. Tidy Up
If tidying up didn’t make people happy, the name Marie Kondo wouldn’t be trending right now. Whether it’s reorganizing your closet, cleaning out your pantry, or decluttering countertops, tidying up is a great way to practice self-care on a budget.
12. Be Active
Go for a run, jump rope, take the dog for a walk—whatever your active looks like, do it! Get your body moving and those endorphins pumping for physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Whether reminiscing about the past or dreaming about the future, journaling can be a wonderful exercise in self-care.
14. Read a Book
When was the last time you read a book for the sake of pleasure? Head to the library and find a book you’ve never read. Carve time out of every day to read—even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.
15. Donate Items You Don’t Use
We all have a box of items we don't use or clothes we no longer wear. Rather than hoard them, just in case, donate them to a local shelter or family in need. Your unused items can change someone else’s life and recharge your soul in the process.
16. Meal Prep and Cook Dinner
In a study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine, “Meal planning was associated with a healthier diet and less obesity.” Even if it’s Hamburger Helper one night and a frozen stir fry the next, plan out your meals for the week and cook. You have to eat anyway, so why not practice self-care at the same time?
17. Go to Bed Early
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.” When it comes to practicing self-care on a budget, getting to bed early is the way to go.
18. Sleep In Late
Even if it’s once a month, plan a day when you know you’ll be able to sleep in past the alarm, the kids, or the dog. Self-care is all about putting your needs first once in a while, and sleeping in is a great way to do exactly that.
19. Follow Self Care Hashtags on Social Media
Find self-care hashtags on Instagram and Twitter to fill your feed with positive messages, tips, and inspiration. Rather than catching up on drama, you’ll be feeding your soul.
20. Listen to Music
As Harvard Medical School reports, “A 2006 study of 60 adults with chronic pain found that music was able to reduce pain, depression, and disability.” In short? Listening to music is a powerful and free self-care idea that every person can use to improve their mental and physical health.
Even if you start with just a few of these 20 self-care tips on a budget, you’ll be well on your way to a happier, more refreshed, and less anxious version of yourself in no time.