As the holidays approach, stress levels increases. You may be finalizing things at your job to prepare to take an extended vacation. Perhaps you have family coming into town and you’re hosting the family gathering. As you prepare to host, you also have to prepare for the different personalities that will be coming into your environment. There’s the aunt who likes to look around and mumble things underneath her breath. You know your grandmother is going to want a rundown of what has happened in your life since she last saw you. You may or may not have always gotten along with your cousins…but you love them. And then there are your parents. They love you and you love them…but they have their expectations of you, even if they aren’t verbalized. While you look forward to days of fun, it can be pretty exhausting trying to plan for the expected and unexpected. You must take the time to decompress and engage in self-care to help minimize your stress levels to protect your mental wellness.
The common misconception about self-care is that it requires money being spent. When I introduce self-care to my clients, they will almost immediately say to me, “I do not have the finances to really do something for myself.” I explain to them that taking care of yourself does not have to be an expensive habit. It doesn’t mean that you have to go to a spa and get pampered…although that sounds really lovely right now. It also doesn’t mean that you have to catch a flight and spend the evening on someone’s Island. Now that sounds lovely…yet expensive. What if I told you that there ways that you can engage in self-care with spending little to no money at all! Listed below are some ways that you can engage in self-care with minimal spending, while taking care of you:
- Plan a “Me Day.” A “Me Day” is when you plan a day that’s all about you. You can plan a day off from work and spend the morning relaxing in bed, watching your favorite show. My go to is watching Judge Mathis while doing absolutely nothing! After your morning in bed, you can pamper yourself. Take a nice, relaxing bath (you can find more details on how to engage in a therapeutic bath in my blog titled, “10 Ways to be Kind to Yourself”) with soothing jazz music playing in the background, and give yourself a manicure and pedicure. That night, after treating yourself to dinner of your choosing from your very own stovetop, you can curl up in bed and finally start on that book that has been sitting on your nightstand untouched.
- Plan Your Lunch Break. Too often we get so caught up in work that we either skip our lunch break, shove our food into our mouths while working through our lunch break, or run errands on our lunch break. How overwhelming! Whether your lunch break is 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 60 minutes, you need to start planning accordingly. Find a place that is secluded from anything that has to do with work, ideally it’s a safe place that’s free from any negativity or workspace. Turn on some soothing music (nothing that is going to have you ready to confront your supervisor and tell them how you really feel), clear your mind of any thoughts and really focus on challenging your breathing to help decrease any stressors and channel your energy. As you feel yourself relaxing, enjoy your food and positive energy. As your break ends, try and stay in that say head space to keep your mental health balanced as you finish up your work day.
- Play with an Animal. Did you know that studies have shown that playing with your pet actually increases your mood and decreases your stress levels? According to one article that I recently read, pets help lower your stress and depression levels due to the increase in the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain. In layman’s terms, it increases the chemicals in our brain that makes us feel all good and happy. If you have a pet or know of someone who does not mind you playing with their pet, plan to spend a few moments with them and love away!
- Play in Beauty Products. Who doesn’t like to feel and look pretty?! This does not require you to have professional skills or to be the next makeup artist or hair stylist for the top celebrities. If you do not own any makeup, take a quick trip to your local dollar store and splurge on some makeup for a decent price. Wash your hair and style it to your pleasing, put on some makeup, and dance to your favorite music as if you have no care in the world. So what if you have no place to go? The beauty is that it’s all about you!
- Plan a Mental Health Day. A mental health day is when you focus on your mental health. This does not mean that you have to spend the entire 24 hours catering to your mental health; however, it does require some commitment on your behalf. You may take a total of two hours out of your day to focus on your mental health. Find a quiet, safe place for you to explore your triggers or things that makes you uncomfortable (mad, annoyed, sad, ferocious, etc.). Then, engage in an activity that allows you to do something with your negative thoughts/feelings/emotions, and replace them with things that makes you feel at peace. You can lie flat on your back in your safe space and clear your mind of any thoughts. Focus on breathing in an out and allow yourself to disappear to an island far away that is not occupied by anyone other than yourself. Feel the warmth of the sun on skin as you continue to bask in the calmness and breath in fresh air and positivity. When your alarm goes off signaling the end of your mindfulness mediation, be reminded of how you felt and journey back to that place whenever your triggers surfaces again.
There are so many things that you can do to engage in self-care that requires minimal spending. The key thing to remember to do while engaging in self-care is to not focus on the things that are troubling you. You cannot relax if you think about the person who really disrespected you and crossed your boundaries. You can attend to that situation at a different time. Self-care is about you and attending to your needs and your overall mental wellness. Protect your energy, mind, body, and spirit. Be empowered and unapologetic as you journey towards becoming in tuned with yourself.