A word that has made its way into popular vocabulary lately is the term “self-care.” Self-care is simply taking care of yourself. In order to be fully functional people, we have to make sure that our needs are being met. We can do this in big ways, such as taking a vacation and time off of work. We can do this in smaller ways like taking a day off or getting lunch at that place you love but haven’t been in forever or going to therapy. But we can also do it in tiny day to day ways, which I will get into soon.

It’s important to engage in all the levels of self-care so that you can be fully present in your life, fight burn-out, and more. It’s like how on an airplane, they tell you to put your mask on before you put it on your child: you’re not going to be helpful to anyone if you’re passed out.

One common barrier to participating in self-care that I hear is that it is too expensive and that people don’t have money to do self-care. And while I love the show Parks and Rec, I think it has made most people believe that self-care is synonymous with TREAT YO SELF and spending money. While going shopping, out to eat, on vacations, and other pricey activities can absolutely be a form of self-care, it also can prevent people who don’t have much disposable income from trying to engage in self-care. This then can lead to and exacerbate vicious cycles of stress and burnout. So, in order to help combat the idea that self-care has to be expensive, I am going to share some of my favorite low to no cost self-care activities.

  1. Going for a walk. Whether it’s a park (which Tennessee and Nashville have plenty of) or just walking around your neighborhood, getting outside and going for a walk is an excellent way to participate in self-care. Getting outside helps to give yourself some vitamin D as well as getting your body moving and seeing and hearing the peacefulness of nature around you. If you want to learn more about mental health and nature check out the blog post prior to this one!
  2. Listen to music. While I won’t give any spoilers for Stranger Things season 4, those who have watched it know that music can be very important and helpful! Music helps us to experience our emotions, share our thoughts, and connect with others. It can be music to get us pumped up to go exercise, music to calm us into sleep, or any kind of music in between.
  3. Sing along to your favorite song. It doesn’t matter if you’re an amazing singer or if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, singing is fun activity. Maybe you only do it when you’re alone in the shower or in the car, but next time your favorite song comes on try singing along to it.
  4. Take a bath or shower. Enjoy the feeling of water and getting clean.
  5. Look at pictures and videos of your favorite animals on the internet.

Obviously this is not a comprehensive list of all the cheap self-care activities you can do, but it is some of my favorite ones. The important thing with self-care is knowing what you enjoy and what will be refreshing and/or nourishing to you. Maybe you hate music, that’s fine! Find something else that you do like and make sure you are giving yourself time for that thing. When we make space to do things that we enjoy in our daily life we are helping ourselves which in turn means that we can show up better, more effective, and more present to other areas of our life.