As the calendar gets closer to Feb. 14, thoughts usually turn to our loved ones as we look for ways to express our love and celebrate Valentine’s Day. But this year, more than ever, we all need to remember to take the time for a little self-care too. Frugal self-care options are essential for those who want to take care of themselves but still be mindful of their budget.
Self-care is an important way to lower our own stress levels and increase energy. And it’s especially vital now. As the pandemic continues, many of us are reaching our limits. An October study from the American Psychological Association found that nearly 8 in 10 adults say COVID-19 is a significant source of stress in their lives. Nearly 20% say their mental health is worse than it was the year before.
And, sure, a fancy spa treatment or big splurge at the mall might sound like a great way to let off some steam and celebrate you, but self-care doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, some of the best self-care options are free. Here’s how to celebrate yourself and de-stress frugally.
Move your body
Research shows us that physical exercise and movement are both important ways to cut our stress levels and take care of ourselves. As the Anxiety and Depression Association of America explains, movement produces endorphins, chemicals that act as “natural painkillers” in our brains.
And you don’t need to run a marathon to take advantage of them. A walk through your neighborhood or along a nature trail near you is a great way to get moving. So, would some at-home yoga or online workout. Self.com has a list of the best yoga channels on YouTube. Good Housekeeping lists the best YouTube workout channels for all fitness levels.
Get some sleep
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but one in three adults aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis. If that includes you, make some changes so you can get a better night sleep. The CDC recommends having a consistent bedtime, making your bedroom as quiet and comfortable as you can, not storing your smartphone and other devices in your bedroom and skipping large meals, caffeine or alcohol just before bed.
And don’t forget the value of a power nap, quick 20- or 30-minute naps during the day. Healthline has tips for an ideal nap.
Meditation is a research-proven way to reduce stress and find some peace. And it’s an excellent frugal self-care option! Even just a few minutes a day can make a difference, according to the Mayo Clinic. Free apps such as Calm and Headspace can help you get started.
Make a playlist
Music is therapeutic, research tells us. And we all have our favorite songs and pieces that take us back to happier times or just help us clear our mind from the stresses of the day. Make your own playlist using sites like Spotify or YouTube. Or check out this music therapist-recommended playlist of music that will soothe your soul.
Rediscover your hobby
Pick up those crochet needles again. Pull out the trumpet that you used to love to play. Start painting again or researching your family history. Dive back into that mystery series you loved. Start up your own film festival featuring your favorite rom coms. Self-care is all about doing things that you love and make you happy. Now is a great time to rekindle your passion in something that you haven’t made time for in the past.
When we’re stressed, we often make bad food choices, which can only make our stress levels worse, according to the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. But healthful foods that are high in vitamin C such as citrus fruits; complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and fruit; and magnesium, such as spinach and other leafy greens, can help reduce our stress levels, according to the center. So can dark chocolate and herbal teas such as mint and chamomile. So, add more cups of mint tea and pieces of dark chocolate into your life.
Make your own spa night
Spa treatments are notoriously expensive. Luckily, you can make your own. We covered a variety of budget-friendly spa treatments, including an Epsom salt foot bath, body scrub and at-home face masks.
Seek help Self-care is important for all of us. But, for some, a cup of tea and a nap isn’t enough. If you’re struggling, there’s no shame in seeking help. The American Psychological Association offers local mental health resources for those who need it during the pandemic.
It may take a little bit of effort and thought, but you can absolutely find some helpful frugal self-care options to take care of yourself better, starting with Valentine’s Day!
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