Self-Care Tips For When You’re On A Budget

You’re feeling crummy, so you take yourself out for a breakfast treat – and then the guilt you feel at dropping $20 on eggs makes you feel worse than before. And now you have to go and do extra exercise to make up for it. We get it. But there are ways to take care of yourself without dropping dollars on an expensive treat.

Here are five self-care tips to boost your mood and care for yourself for less than five bucks.

#1 Get your heart rate up

Sometimes it’s the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling low – but getting an endorphin hit doesn’t have to mean slugging it out solo on a treadmill or gritting your way through a shouty sweat-fest.

Find a friend and walk along the river or beach, swim some laps at your local pool, take a hike or a bike ride in the hills, find a YouTube video of a simple yoga flow sequence to copy in the park, or put on Janelle Monáe and have a groove in your lounge room. Dorky? Undoubtedly. Effective? Certainly.

#2 Do something that feels useful 

Tackle a small nagging task or run an errand that’ll give you a gratifying boost and help you start next week ahead. Renew the library book you know you won’t finish before the due date. Change your sheets and put on fresh pillowcases. Sort through the miscellaneous condiments that line your fridge door (and be honest about whether you’ll really eat those capers this week, or this month… or this year).

If you’re feeling ambitious, pull everything out of your fridge, clean the shelves, and look up new recipes that’ll help you use up all the scraps and leftovers (here’s one for those capers).

It may sound boring, but don’t forget: self-care is just as much about being the strict parent to yourself as it is the fun-loving oddball aunt.

#3 Do something that doesn’t feel useful

Give yourself permission to take a break and zone out. Sure, there’s the classic Netflix sesh in your cosy bed, but you can also invite a friend around for a movie night, lay in the park and spot shapes in the clouds, or set yourself up with a sketchpad, journal, guitar or new recipe, and take some time out to play around.

Lay in the park and spot shapes in the clouds, or set yourself up with a sketchpad, journal, guitar or new recipe, and take some time out to play around.

The creative practise will boost your mood and could provide a much-needed distraction: if you’re a person who tends towards anxiety or overthinking, doing something with your hands could be just the circuit breaker you’re looking for.

#4 Get squeaky clean

Sure, self-care isn’t always pedicures and facemasks, but when you’re three days deep into a fug and can’t remember the last time you left the house, some basic hygiene is essential – and easy.

A super-hot shower or bath, a hair wash, some vigorous scrubbing and bit of moisturiser will perk you up and prepare you to face the world in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Queer Eye. Optional extras include an at-home facial, a glass of wine or book with your bath, candles and incense, or a head massage traded with your housemate.

#5 Turn to your friends 

When you’re not feeling your best, it can be difficult to find the energy to take care of yourself. But your mates know what you’re going through, and they’re here to help. Invite one on your hike or to your Sunday-arvo cooking sesh, stop in for coffee and a chat at the end of your morning beach walk, or use each other as motivation to get to the gym, library or supermarket.

If you’re craving contact of another kind, some time with a furry friend may be just the thing for you: there’s a reason why pet ownership is linked to better mental health outcomes. If you don’t own or live with a pet (or if you’re shacked up with a particularly unaffectionate goldfish), try visiting an animal sanctuary, a self-guided bird-spotting bush walk, volunteering to walk a friend’s pooch, or taking a book to your local dog park or beach and strategically setting yourself up near a ball-throwing area.

It may not always feel fun, but these self-care tips can help you fill your cup, soothe your soul, and prepare you to face the week ahead with energy and zest – and with a whole lot more money in your wallet than usual.

Sophie Raynor is a writer and list-maker from Perth living in tropical Timor-Leste. She loves ethical development communications and taking about sweating, and tweets at @raynorsophie.