Self Care Ideas That Cost Nothing

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The advice offered this article is based on my own personal experience and not intended as medical advice. 

As somebody who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I think it’s important to talk openly about the ways we take care of ourselves.

What is self-care?

Self-care is taking steps to meet your emotional and physical needs. It’s prioritizing your own happiness and wellbeing, and it’s crucial to mental health. When I take care of myself, I build up the belief that I’m worth taking care of.

What isn’t self-care?

Self-care will not ‘fix’ depression. It won’t get rid of mental illness. If you don’t have the energy for some kinds of self-care because of your mental illness, that’s okay. Forgive yourself. It’s about recognizing your needs and fulfilling them to the best of your abilities.

Self-destructive care

Of course, there are different ways of meeting needs, and sometimes the coping mechanisms we learn do more harm than good.

In the past, I’ve self-medicated with shopping. I’ve literally driven to the mall, sobbing, had a panic attack in Victoria’s Secret, and still walked out with $100 worth of new bras.

Other times I’ve treated myself to $12 cold pressed juices, $30 manicures, and so on, and so on… Consuming things like this made me feel like I was in control. It was a tangible way to prove to myself that I mattered.

Was that sustainable or healthy? Heck no! Now I try to live my life with a little bit more balance. Sometimes, that means sitting with my uncomfortable feelings instead of covering them up by spending. Here are some free self-care ideas that I use all the time.

  1. Take a shower (or a bath!)- Shave, moisturize, and blow dry your hair. This will do wonders to making you feel like a human again. And if it doesn’t, at least you’re a little cleaner.
  2. Watch a yoga video and gently wake up your muscles.
  3. Meditate  – here’s a how-to guide. (Little known secret: there is no wrong way to meditate.)
  4. Put on an upbeat playlist and dance it out Grey’s Anatomy style
  5. Go to the library. Find a comfy chair. Read something from a section you’ve never been in.
  6. Watch something hilarious. Like these dogs. 
  7. Make some art.
  8. Do one thing on your to-do list. Call the bank. Make a doctor’s appointment. Start the laundry. When it’s done you’ll feel like a weight’s been lifted.
  9. Write down a list of positive affirmations, and repeat them out loud in the mirror. You will feel silly, but one of them might stick. (“I deserve to be happy” is one of my favorites.)
  10. Leave. The. House. Take a drive, go for a walk, hang out with a friend, just get out of that space.

I hope this helps anybody struggling with mental health issues. Bad days happen to everybody, and it’s important to prioritize yourself, but remember that you don’t have to do it alone. If you’ve been feeling depressed or isolated, I want to encourage you to seek professional help. Therapy changed my life, and I recommend it to everybody.

And if you happen to be experiencing a crisis and need immediate support, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They have trained crisis workers on call 24/7 to listen and provide resources to help you. The number is 1-800-273-8255.

What are some ways you take care of yourself? Have there been times that you recognized your self-care was destructive?