It is no secret that recently the cost of living has been significantly on the rise, and coincidently, so is stress. For many, inflation, supply chain shortages and the scarcity of resources that have marked the pandemic have caused significant stress and increased financial burdens for individuals and families.
It is common in the mental health world to be encouraged to combat stress and burnout with consistent “self-care.” But what does restorative self-care look like during a time when your usual go-to remedies are more difficult to access? Or afford?
“Self-care” has been a hot topic in recent years for mental health enthusiasts. Advocates and social media influencers alike model and encourage things like: exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep and rest, and social time. However, if you’re like many others right now, you may be finding yourself in a cycle where many of these things are difficult to achieve, let alone balance. Due to inflation, you may be working more to combat financial insecurity, you get less sleep and rest as a result. Maybe you’ve recently revamped your budget to accommodate for the increased prices of gas and groceries, and now your daily latte has been nixed indefinitely.
Along with your budget, maybe your self-care regimen needs revamping for a while too. How can you balance trying to take care of yourself while also balancing your pocketbook?
Let’s check in.
1. First, assess your budget.
What’s working right now? What’s not? What can be adjusted and what’s something that can’t be moved? Your monthly car payment is something that you can’t let go of, but that pilates class that you take three days a week might.
2. Rethink self-care.
Some of our self-care go-to’s are things we give little to no thought. That $12 lunch you picked up during your work day? That’s self-care. Evaluate in this season what self-care looks like and what can change. For example, practice being intentional to pack your lunch a few days a week; notice if it saves you money or time during your work day if you’re not leaving the office to pick something up.
3. Treat yourself every once in a while.
You may be interested in a Dave Ramsey-style method of adjusting your budget. Maybe that works for you, but also, maybe it won’t, and that’s okay. That pilates class from earlier? Maybe you don’t cut that out completely, but you step it down to once a week instead of three.
4. Explore new forms of self-care.
One of the most “therapist-like” skills a counselor can provide is a good reframe. Here, that looks like taking this season of heightened stress and assessing what you can control. Gas prices may be out of your hands but your creativity is not. Give yourself permission to explore a new hobby or skill you’ve been interested in giving a try. Maybe you enjoy getting a manicure; practice giving one to yourself. Your favorite coffee drink? Try the recipe at home.
5. Acknowledge that this is hard.
This may feel contradictory to the previous skill. Remember two conflicting things can exist at the same time (another lovely skill we practice in therapy.) Revamping your budget and making changes from your norms is hard. Practicing embracing new forms of self-care doesn’t mean inflation doesn’t suck; it does. If you find yourself struggling in this season, be compassionate with yourself. This is hard. Be kind with yourself. Surround yourself with support. Remember that this is temporary, and you can do hard things.
If you find yourself feeling marked increases in anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns and need assistance in making therapy affordable, please feel free to reach out to our administrative team to learn about our sliding scale and income-based options.