How to Practice Self Care Without the Cash

It can come as a pretty big shock to learn that self care – that thing we’re meant to be doing every day but very rarely do – can actually cost money. Want to go to a day spa? Or buy yourself a treat? How about a quick getaway this weekend? It can be a little difficult to dial up the self care without sourcing a money tree first. Here are some ways around that conundrum.

Self care shouldn’t be only for those with overflowing pockets – after all, making self care a priority is a hard task as it is. Here’s a few ways to promote positive health and wellbeing that won’t cost you your rent money.

#1 Getting professional help

Putting “me time” on the back burner is often a big reason why we feel run-down, frenzied and overwhelmed sometimes. And there’s no shame in seeking out some professional help; you’re doing a great thing for yourself. The huge hurdle here is that people think it’s expensive. Therapy costs money – but did you know you’re eligible for a few free visits through your GP?


Qualifying for these benefits is usually as simple as getting a Mental Health Treatment Plan (it’s not as ominous as it sounds, promise!) drawn up by your GP. For more information on whether you’re eligible for subsidised treatment, it’s best to check with your health professional.

#2 Go outside

Ditching the comfort of your home and getting some much needed face time with the outside world is a great way to improve mental and physical health – we know this. But sometimes all we feel like doing is wrapping ourselves in a doona ball and watching way too many episodes of Jane the Virgin – and that’s OK too.

But on those days when we need to stretch our legs, it’s good to remember how great it actually is to be out in nature. In fact, research has suggested that being in nature can make us feel more alive. Even living in an area with more green spaces goes hand in hand with greater life satisfaction and a decrease in mental distress. Get to know what’s happening in your city; there’s always a bunch of free summer events happening around town, including music concerts, free fitness classes and heaps more. Have a bit of a Google and see what you find!

#3 Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a special way of paying attention to yourself – you do so by focussing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts and body movements. If that sounds a little overwhelming, don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than it sounds – especially since you can do it from your handy portable device.


There’s a bounty of free online tools available that’ll help you take control of your emotional wellbeing. Try Headspace, Happify, Pacifica and Remente, all excellent apps that target anxiety, stress, depression with goal setting, mental training and mindful thinking.

#4 Declutter

It’s actually in your best interests to deal with those overflowing drawers. Whether your clutter is scattered around the house or hidden away under the bed, it isn’t just taking up physical space – it’s taking up precious mental real estate in your brain too. Decluttering is good for your mind and your wallet. Get rid of that old shirt, bag, book or picture frame – whatever it is that’s weighing you down – and donate it, sell it or just ditch it for good. Do as Marie Kondo does and you might finally get to enjoy the unique magic of a cleaner space – and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

#5 Keep track of your accomplishments

In terms of instant relief, crossing things off lists is ecstasy. But it’s also important to recognise the things we’ve achieved that might be bigger than your usual to-do list. Try making an accomplishment checklist of all the productive things you’ve done today: did you nurture a friendship? Did you complete a work assignment? Or eat a healthy lunch? Have you stuck it out a year in a new city? No matter how small or big, you deserve a pat on the back.

#6 Express gratitude

Just as beneficial as keeping track of what we’ve done, it’s also important to take stock of what we’ve got.


Grab yourself a notebook, keep it by your bed or in your bag, and note down all the things you feel lucky to have. Anything from comfy shoes or a functioning phone, to a supportive friend or family member. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget all that we have when all we focus on is what’s missing. And as we’ve mentioned before, practicing gratitude is the quickest way to go from a terrible mood to a great one.

Rebecca Russo is a freelance writer, editor, community radio dabbler, occasional hiker and celebrity autobiography enthusiast. She has written for online publications including Junkee, AWOL, Fashion Journal and Tone Deaf. Find her online here.

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