1. A Journal
Writing things down can be powerful. Whether you create a gratitude journal, pen self-reflections, or write out hurt feelings and light it on fire, there’s something transformative about getting thoughts out of your head and onto paper.
2. Good Eats
According to science, how you feed your body affects your mood. Your gut contains trillions of microbes that secrete chemicals, like dopamine and serotonin, that contribute to your health and happiness. To keep your gut balanced, focus on a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Then add probiotics — naturally, via supplements, or both — to promote gut health.
3. Exercise Equipment
At an average monthly cost of $58, gym memberships aren’t cheap. But there are ways to include exercise in your life without paying expensive monthly dues. Buy a bicycle, invest in dumbbells and resistance bands, get that eco-friendly yoga mat, or purchase equipment for another fitness hobby. You can even save on costly sporting equipment by searching secondhand at used gear stores and yard sales.
4. A Preventive Care Appointment
If you live in the U.S., there’s a good chance you’ve opted to ignore medical problems rather than face the bill. Gallup reports that three in 10 Americans have put off medical treatment because of cost, with women more likely to skip a doctor’s visit than men. But if you have health insurance, you can receive certain preventive care for free—and that’s an important first step toward maintaining lifelong health.
5. A Trail Map
Spending time in nature is known to improve moods and relieve stress. The next time you have a free weekend, choose a national or state park in your region, pick up a map at your local outdoor store, and hit the trail for a day of all-natural relaxation.
6. A Good Book
According to the University of Minnesota, reading for 30 minutes can reduce stress up to 68 percent. Instead of pulling up a news blog, which might just stress you out more, seek out works of fiction that you can get lost in. Whether you opt for a best seller or find a gem at your local used book store, you’ll enjoy a temporary reprieve from the real world.
7. A Day Off
When you’re feeling worn down, overwhelmed, and like you can’t catch a break, it’s time to cash in on those vacation days. If you’re lucky, your boss might even let you count your mental health day as a sick day. While no one wants to leave their coworkers hanging, sometimes a day off is exactly what you need to return to the office rejuvenated and ready to give it your all.
8. Permission to Ask for Help
Sometimes the things we need to take care of ourselves simply cost more money than we have. Take addiction treatment: While not everyone needs rehab to get sober, for many people, it’s a necessary first step on the path to recovery. Whether you need medical supervision for detox, therapy to help overcome unhealthy thinking, or another form of clinical intervention, you shouldn’t let money stop you from getting the help you need. But if the money isn’t there, what are you to do? Ask for help. Whether you reach out to family and friends or start a crowdfunding campaign, there’s no shame in asking for assistance when you really need it.
While there’s nothing wrong with expensive self-care regimens, you don’t need to be rich to deserve time for yourself. Whether you have $100 or $10 to spare, you can find a way to improve your mental, emotional, and physical health. And when your needs exceed your budget? Ask for help, because your well-being is worth it.
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