8 Self-Care Ideas that are Totally Free
Recently, when I was unemployed, I was really frustrated because I had all of this time to practice better self-care, but no money to do it. I felt like everything that I wanted to do cost money, and it was really dejecting; however, I have managed to find many different self-care practices, that didn’t cost a penny.
What are some ways to practice self-care for free? Well, here are 8 ideas that you may want to try:
- Give yourself a Massage
- Go for a Walk
- Do a Fitness Class or Yoga Class doing YouTube
- Watch Something Funny
- Take a Bath
- Practice Mindfulness
- Practice Meditation
- Try Belly Breathing
- Bonus: Ideas that you Can Do, with a Few Household Items
Below, I’ve included some details and tips on how to include these self-care practices into your routine.
1 Give yourself a Massage
You can give yourself a massage using your hands. If you already have some self-massage tools around the house, you can use them. My physiotherapist also suggested using a tennis ball can be an excellent self-massage tool. You can put it between your back and a wall and give yourself a neck and/or back massage. You can also put it on the floor and use it to massage other parts of your body, such as your calves.
2 Go for a Walk
Going for a walk is one of the easiest ways to get practice self-care, and it is completely free! Walking gives multiple benefits: exercise, fresh air, and sunlight. It is very accessible, and also low impact. You may want to pair your walk with a mindfulness exercise as well (see #6).
Social connection is always an important part of self-care, so you may also want to invite a friend to come along with you.
One easy way to get some walking company is to join a walking group. There is a website called www.meetup.com, which connects people with similar interest. Here is how the website works:
- An individual creates a group for a given interest (waking, biking, board gaming, writing, public speaking etc.)
- That same person creates events for the group members to attend
- Individuals join the group, and sign up for events that they are interested in
These groups are a great way to meet new people, and to explore new places that you may not have gone to on your own. It may also give yourself a bit of a push, since most people are more likely to do something if they have already said that they would. That’s why gym buddies work so well!
The events are typically free; although some groups may charge a small fee, to cover their administrative costs. Walking groups of this kind are in most cities.
3. Do a Fitness Class or Yoga using YouTube
YouTube has all kind of fitness classes from Zumba to “boot camp” style videos. With a quick search, you can find a good routine that you can do right from the comfort of your own home. This is a great option, especially if you are self-concious about what other gym goers may think. No need to pay a gym free or worry about packing a bag ahead of time. Just throw on some shoes and comfortable clothes and get to it!
4 Watch Something Funny
There is a reason that they say that “laughter is the best medicine”. A good laugh can do wonders for your spirits. You may want to throw on an old DVD, watch a funny YouTube video, or catch the latest Netflix special.
5 Take a bath
Baths are a staple of self-care and there is a reason for that. The warm water has a therapeutic effect, and it can be very relaxing. If you have sore or aching muscles, it can help ease the pain. You can read more about the best way to take a bath to ease sore muscles.
6 Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a great self-care activity that has many known benefits, including increasing focus and decreasing anxiety, and it is 100% free!
What exactly is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the state of being conscious or aware of something. Basically, mindfulness is about paying attention to your surroundings or yourself. You focus on what you see, hear, touch, taste and smell.
Mindfulness Exercise 1: Sound
One simple way to practice mindfulness is to close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. What do you hear? How loud are the sounds? What types of sounds are they? Are the constant or intermittent. Give yourself 5 minutes to really listen. We generally tune sounds out, so you may be very surprised to realize just how much is going on around you! If this exercise isn’t for you, you might want to try the raisin exercise.
Mindfulness Exercise 2: The Raisin Exercise
This exercise is typically guided, but this explanation should give you an idea of what the exercise is about.
- First, hold the raisin in your hand. Notice what it feels like. Notice its shape. How heavy is it? Can you feel it sitting in your hand? What colour is it? What does it look like?
- Next, touch the raisin with your finger. What does it feel like?
- Smell the raisin. What does it smell like?
- Place the raisin in your mouth, but don’t bite it. What does it feel like on your tongue? Do you feel yourself salivating?
- Bite the raisin. What does it sound like? What does it taste like”.
This exercise/mindfulness is simply about engaging your awareness of your surrounding. You don’t have to be a raisin. You can do the exercise with anything.
Mindfulness Exercise 3: Walking
As mentioned, walking while practicing mindfulness can be quite enjoyable. Take note of the sounds. Are there birds chirping? What colour are the trees or buildings that you pass? What does the sky look like?
7 Practice Meditation
Are meditation and mindfulness the same thing? Kind of. Mindfulness is a type of meditation. Meditation has the same practice of bringing awareness to your mind, but it can take many forms.
Many people believe that meditation is about clearing your mind, but it isn’t really that at all. A meditation app, Headspace, explains meditation in a helpful meditation anaology.
A man sits by the side of the road, and his only job is to watch the traffic go by, which he does for a while, but then, he gets distracted and starts chasing a car. Then he starts chasing a different car. Before long, he forgets that his job was just to sit on the side of the road and and watch the cars. That’s what meditation is. It’s not about not thinking, it is about just watching the thoughts and trying not to attach to them.
The app is free to download; although, if you want to continue past the first 10 sessions, there is a subscription fee.
8 Try Belly Breathing
You may have come across this concept before, as it goes by many names (Diaphragmatic breathing, deep breathing, abdominal breathing, yoga belly breath, or calm breathing) If you are practicing yoga, you are probably already using this technique. Belly breathing is fairly simply. When most of us inhale, our stomach moves in, with belly breathing, you want your stomach to move OUT, and fill with air, then exhale. It is really that simply.
Bell Breathing Technique
As all things health-related, there are always going to be multiple opinions on how to do something. Here is what Anxiety BC recommends.
Belly Breathing Technique as Recommended by Anxiety BC
Anxiety BC recommends that you take slow, regular breathes. They also recommend sitting up straight because it will allows your lunch to fill up more. Lay your arms on the arm rest of chair or on your lap.
- Take a slow breath in through the nose, breathing into your lower belly (for about 4 seconds)
- Hold your breath for 1 or 2 seconds
- Exhale slowly through the mouth (for about 4 seconds)
- Wait a few seconds before taking another breath
They recommend that you try this for 5 minutes a day.
They do suggest that when you first try it, you can lie on the floor with your hand on your belly. It is helpful to actually feel your stomach rise. You should put your other hand on your chest. You want to see/feel the hand on your chest stay still, while the hand on your belly rises.
9 Ideas that you Can Do, with a Few Household items
These are ideas that are either free, or that use some basic household items.
- Read a book
- Have a cup of tea
- Write in a journal
- Paint your fingernails
- Light some scented candles
- Read the Bible or other spiritual text
- Bake yourself a batch of cookies
- Read your favourite book again
- Listen to Music
- Dance around your living room
- Watch your favourite movie
- Play with your pet/s
- Sing at the top of your lungs
- Make a bucket list
- Clean your house or apartment
- Call a loved on to say “hi”
- Take your dog to a dog park
As promised, there are many ways that one can practice self-care without any money. There are likely many more ideas that aren’t even listed here. Hopefully this list has given you some great ideas on how you can practice self-care, without spending a penny.