"Self-care" is such a buzzword these days that it's starting to lose its core meaning. I've seen it used to sell everything from lipgloss to eyebrow threading on social media.
While I'm not against buying things to take care of myself—who doesn't love a nice candle or luxury bath oils?—I wrote this post to remind you that self-care is not the equivalent of retail therapy. It's really about nurturing and accepting yourself as you are now.
These 10 simple self-care practices only require a little time and effort, and next to no money:
1. Whenever you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take 5-10 minutes to do yoga alternate nostril breathing. Hillary Clinton used it to calm and ground herself after her devastating election loss, and she even demonstrates how to use it in this video.
2. If you're ever feeling low on self-esteem, make a list of 10 things you like about yourself and put it somewhere you can see often. I hope this comes easily for you, but if it doesn't, ask people who know you. If you want to go further with this, start a Book of Wins, noting every success in your life, big or small.
3. Schedule in a walk in the park. If you can, do some Earthing. If you have a backyard, lucky you—you can go Earthing anytime. If you live near nature, do some forest bathing. The point is to spend time in nature to get some fresh oxygen, unplug, and ground yourself.
4. Delete social media apps (including email apps) off your phone for at least 24 hours at a time. This is to help wean yourself off checking your phone for the sake of checking your phone. Use the free time to engage in the present moment and with the people around you. Maybe you can finally read that book or start the hobby that's been on your to-do list. I recommend doing social media detoxes for weekends.
5. Draw your own mandala and colour it. It doesn't have to be symmetrical and as complex as the ones you see in colouring books. Simply set an intention before you start drawing, whether it's for the colouring session to calm you, heal some aspect of yourself, spark creative inspiration, etc., and let yourself draw whatever comes to you. Continue to concentrate on your intention as you colour. What you do with the mandala after you complete it is up to you.
6. Make and eat your favourite meal without the TV on or any other distractions. Even if it's not the "cleanest" meal in the world, stop thinking you're being naughty doing something as natural as consuming food. Be fully present in eating and enjoy it.
7. Tidy up your space, declutter, vacuum, whatever you need to do. Your home is a part of you and keeping it clean, even just one room, will instantly make you feel better.
8. Got holes in your clothes? Even if it's just your socks or underwear and you assume no one else will see them, you'll know. If you're too broke to buy new garments, get out your sewing kit to mend them. Doing these little things to take care of yourself can add up.
9. Watch some stand-up comedy. Did you know that laughter reduces stress hormones and boosts immunity? Netflix has so many standup specials. Recently, I enjoyed The Comedy Lineup, featuring talented new comics doing 15-minute sets. (My faves are Ian Karmel, Phil Wang, and Taylor Tomlinson.) Even if you don't have Netflix, you can find countless videos of standup performances on YouTube.
10. Monitor your sleep and make sure you get enough hours each night. This may sound obvious, but sleep is something people often sacrifice to cram more stuff into their day. Get in the practice of sleeping before 11 p.m., as often as you can. Make sure you're not oversleeping, because that may prevent you from sleeping well the next night. Everyone is different with the amount of sleep needed each night to feel refreshed, so find your number, and set the alarm to get that amount.