How many of you watch self care videos on YouTube or read blog posts that lay out a routine most of us wish we could indulge in whenever we have a bad day? These self care posts often focus on the products you can buy for the best skin, the best relaxation, and the best detoxes. All of these products are very enticing, but for those who are living life from paycheck to paycheck, it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with all those fancy trends. This can often lead to feelings of inadequacy or negative self talk.
I can’t afford that kind of moisturizer. Who has the extra cash to take a weekend yoga retreat, or Caribbean vacation? There’s no way I can afford a gym membership and also dinner for this week. It costs how much for an organic coconut oil vegan facial scrub? No thanks, I have school loans to pay.
The need to care for yourself and nurture your body and soul shouldn’t be at the expense of sacrificing other everyday needs. Finances aside, I am a huge fan of all the self care videos and blog posts online. They always inspire me and motivate me to live that kind of life, but I do things a little differently, and maybe you do too, or would like to. Through my twenties I have developed a self care routine that works best for me, my budget, and my lifestyle.
The stresses of life can pile up rather easily, so it’s important to set aside time to focus on recharging your energy. Self care doesn’t have to only be about the products you buy. For me, self care is about nourishing my soul, getting back in tune with myself and my spirituality, and coping with the pile of stress that collects like a stack of bills at the back of your mental workstation. And most of these are of little or no cost to yourself; things that you can do no matter what your social standing in life may be.
When I am feeling like I need to focus on myself, I do any number of the following.
The first thing I do when I need to cleanse my body and soul is to take a nice hot shower. As Sylvia Plath states in The Bell Jar, it’s as if the stresses of the day wash off along with the dirt and oil and go right down the drain. I’ve often felt on the verge of tears, have stepped into the steam and heat of a shower and by the end I am relaxed and calm. After stressful events like job interviews, social gatherings, or dates that didn’t quite go as well as you had hoped, there is nothing better than stripping off all those tight clothes, losing the bra, taking off your makeup, and just being the free little soul that you are. Take the time to look at yourself in the mirror before you get into the shower, and instead of shouting negatives in your mind, be kind to yourself. You are beautiful despite all your wrinkles, stretch marks, and belly rolls.
Some days my yoga routine is meant to be a workout as well as a stretch–Do ALL the planks, master ALL the pilate’s, get ALL the abs!–but on my self care days, I like to take it easy with the positions I do. It’s all about trusting your body and doing what feels nice. Don’t stress about doing the poses right. This is a time for you to get in tune with your physical body. I mainly focus on small stretches. Starting in a seated position, I stretch one arm up and over my body in a sideways bend, and then the other. I then do some shoulder and head rolls. After that, I stretch out my legs in a forward sitting fold. I find that on self care days I general gravitate towards things low to the floor, so back stretches also help. Laying on my back, I twist one leg over my body while looking over the opposite shoulder, and lastly I finish by hugging my knees to my chest and rolling my lower back along the floor before settling down into corpse pose (which is by far my favorite!).
I really like Yoga With Adriene on Youtube. It always makes my day going through a nice easy session with her.
Yep, back to the ol’ meditation tip. The thoughts that weight heavy on your mind are able to be released when you actively try to clear your mind. I find that listening to meditation music helps get me in a nice comfortable mental zone. One of my favorite things to focus on during meditation is The Box. It’s a cognitive exercise where you take all the negative thoughts about yourself or from your stressful day, picture them as a physical object, and place them inside the box. Once inside, they can’t get out. Then picture placing the box somewhere in your mind and forgetting about it. The nice thing about this is that the box is infinite. You can pour as much negativity inside the box as you wish, just like Pandora’s box!
Another cognitive exercise I like to do while meditating is to picture myself someplace where I feel absolutely stress free and content. Recently, this has been in a small cottage on a prairie along the edge of a forest, where speckled sunlight shines through the trees and creates a golden paradise. In this safe space in my mind, I often try to get in touch with my inner child, which always appears to me as a grey cat. By focusing on the grey cat, I am able to reinforce positivity and ignore the negative thoughts for a while. This also gives me an opportunity to have a conversation with my inner child, or inner self. Check in with yourself. The way we talk to ourselves really makes a difference, so be kind.
I said this was a self care post on a budget, and I meant it. This is usually the point where all those vloggers and bloggers start whipping out their designer hand lotions, hundred dollar facial moisturizers, anti wrinkle cream that would cost my left tit to buy, and a smorgasbord of other odds and ends to get the flawless skin everyone wishes they could have. (Even though, if we’re being totally honest, all they probably did for their videos was apply a heavy layer or two of foundation, which can make anyone look flawless on film).
I’m about to be very real with you right now. My skin care routine consists of this: Since my face is usually nice and clean from the shower, I apply Clinique moisture surge. It’s the most expensive thing I own, so let’s get it out of the way right now. I use Clinique Moisture Surge because I have dry-ass skin that makes me molt like a snek after one of my nice hot showers. This moisturizer is the only one I have found that doesn’t cause me to break out. As soon as I apply it I feel like my face just took a nice healthy drink of water, and it stays moisturized all through the day or night, whenever I apply it. Without it I would look like a clay golem in desperate need of some rain.
Now I’m about to share with you a marvelous secret. After applying my face moisturizer, I moisturize my body. Not with Jergen’s, not with coconut oil, not with some weird concoction of olive oil, bee’s wax, and creme fraiche. You ready for this? I use Johnson’s baby lotion. It works SO much better than any of those super expensive luxury moisturizers, and leaves my skin feeling so smooth and soft afterwards. The other thing I like about it is that it absorbs rather quickly. I hate moisturizing my body and then having to stand there like a starfish waiting for it to all get soaked in as I stand in front of my fan.
That’s it. That’s the end of my physical care. Sometimes I will repaint my nails or exfoliate my gross disgusting hobbit feet, but that’s only if I’m feeling really frisky. (Just kidding, I have adorable little hobbit feet)
Oh, and don’t forget to drink water! It’s an absolutely affordable way to get better skin, better digestion, and better overall health. You’re made up of water. Never forget to hydrate!
When you’re having a bad day, nothing compares when it comes to feeling better than eating some of your favorite foods. Most of my weekdays are spent eating healthy foods and smart choices. I will limit the amount of carbs, cheese, and meats I eat, even though these are my favorites. But on self care days, anything goes. I think most people call these “cheat days”? Where you sit down with a bowl of mac n cheese big enough to feed a family and chicken nuggets, and eat until you are so satisfied that you can’t eat another bite. And who can forget dessert? I always treat myself to a fabulous dessert item on self care days. Sometimes I will even go to the store specifically to buy a fancy little dessert like a parfait, chocolate mousse, or little cupcake from the bakery section.
Once my skin is all drank and my mind is all clear and my belly is all full, I take the time to write in my journal. Sometimes I journal on my phone in an app called Day One, and other times I use a physical journal. I like the feeling of writing things down in an actual notebook with a cool cactus or unicorn pen from target (which you can get in the little $1 bin up near the front), but sometimes my mind moves faster than my hand and I end up frustrated, which is like, the opposite of a good thing for self care. So usually I use Day One and get out all the lingering thoughts for my day. I’m one of those super linear people who writes down what they ate and what the weather was like, along with pouring my heart out about social issues or money problems. I’ve been consistently journaling for about a year now, and it’s really interesting to be able to look back on my past entries to see what sort of mindset I was in during which days and which months and which life events. The other cool thing about Day One is that you can add a picture to your journal entries, and depending on where the picture was taken, it will create a map for you that tells you where you were and when. When you click on a map point, it will take you to that journal entry. So Cool!
Writing/Working on a creative project
Different than journaling, which is often personal and cathartic, I like to follow that up by working on a creative project such as blogging or creative writing, or even drawing. I have real issues with self-loathing when it comes to productivity. I feel that if I’m not creating something at all times, I’m a loser. That’s something I really need to work on. But I still like being productive when I can. At the end of the night is my favorite time to write because it gives me motivation to incorporate the happenings of the day into my work. I will also use this creative time to brainstorm blog post ideas or work on my websites/social media presence.
I often also incorporate a section of time where I can be social. I will send my friends “hello, how are you?” texts just to check in and make sure they’re doing ok. Sometimes they need some time to vent too, and having a friend to listen to you sometimes means the world to someone. It also helps to feel more connected when you actively reach out to your loved ones. When was the last time you called your mom? When did you text your sister? Even small gestures are sometimes enough to make huge differences in someone’s life.
Yep, I’m one of those girls. But taking selfies just reaffirms to myself that I’m a cutie and worthy of love and acceptance too. It’s a great feeling to appreciate yourself. Of course I will snapchat it up until my phone dies, but sometimes I just like appreciating the natural beauty that is me. With my blemished skin and blue veins and short eyelashes and all my double chins. Yeah, baby. It’s also really fun to dress up as glamorous as you want and take selfies that way. There’s nothing more satisfying than slipping into your favorite dress or pair of shoes for some personal selfie shots! And hey, appreciate that little booty of yours. Just because it isn’t a bubble butt doesn’t mean it’s not cute.
And there you have it. These are some of my favorite things to do on a self care day. As you can see, a lot of these cost little to no money at all to do. Not everything has to be about what you own or what products you use. Some of my favorite self care techniques are more about nurturing my internal spirit and finding peace within myself.
Do you have any specific things you always love to do on self care days? I’d love to hear from you!