A lot of people think that self care is bubble baths, yoga and wine. While I enjoy 2/3 of these things (not a bubble baths kinda gal), there’s so much more to it and honestly, most of it isn’t expensive. While taking a week long vacation in a beautiful place can be a great way to reset yourself from the hectic activities in life, there are small things that you can do every day. As part of a Focused Frugal February, we’re taking a look at self care and how to find the little moments that can help relieve stress without breaking your budget.

Self Care Means Taking Care of Yourself

There seems to be a stigma around self care that it is a selfish thing, but if you are constantly drained and stressed out you’re not able to give your best self to anyone else. Start with just taking care of yourself. By that I mean the simple things you can do now and for free. So, hold off before you book that yoga retreat and read this first.

Just Sleep!

Forty percent of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep each night. The recommended amount of sleep is at least 7 hours, but preferably 8 is best. Odds are, if you are feeling run down, a good night’s sleep will help you feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the day.

How on earth are we supposed to make sure we sleep if there are kids and pets running around all day and then so many things to catch up on at night? This is a never ending question that I’m also working on improving myself in as well. The best thing that I’ve found is to use my time wisely and stop just mindlessly scrolling. When I don’t use my phone at night before bed, I sleep the best. I’m sure that this advice has been given many times as I have also received it many times, but that’s because it’s good advice. What I’ve started doing is leaving my phone in the kitchen overnight. I used to use my phone as an alarm clock and instead I just bought an alarm clock. It sounds so simple and yet, but often what is simplest works the best.

Routine is Boring, but it Works

Setting yourself up for a good night’s rest is key. Other than keeping your phone, computer and other items that emit blue light away from yourself at night, what else is there? I have tried to set a morning and nightly routine for myself. Sometimes I succeed in actually following through with it, other times I don’t. However, the nights that I actually run through my nighttime routine, I sleep more soundly and feel more refreshed. Unsurprisingly, research proves this by showing that routines can improve sleep quality and reduce stress.

Here is my routine that I try to stick to every night. It’s simple and works for me, but you will have to find something that works for you.

Use as a sample, but find what works for you!

Similarly, starting my day with a routine always helps get me started off on the right foot. The days where I skip yoga in the morning never run as smoothly. Note: I use a free app, Downdog, for my yoga routine and that has been a great resource. So, even if you have something as part of your self care that does cost money, there may be a way to do it for free if you get a little creative.

In order to ensure you have time for a routine, you may need to get up slightly earlier than normal, but I promise you, it IS worth it.

Take Time for Yourself

This could be a variety of different things. Sometimes all there is time for is to sit with a hot cup of coffee or tea and just focus on the moment, allowing your thoughts to just drift without worrying about the next thing you have to do or place you need to be. This can be just two minutes, but it will make all the difference in the world when the rest of your day is go, Go, GO!

If taking time for yourself looks like a workout, then do what you can to find this time. Jillian Johnsrud from Montana Money Adventures is a mom of 6 kids and at one point states that she only had one-minute stints to get her workouts in. She tried to find at least 5 or 6 times during the day that she could fit them in. Not that this is the most efficient way to get your workout in, but it just goes to show that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

As for cost, there are ways to odd value to your local gym to offset these costs. I became an instructor at my Krav Maga gym, saving myself over $1,000/year in expenses. Additionally, I just brought in someone to help with marketing for a couple of hours/month, who will now also get a free gym membership and krav maga lessons. If you prefer to work for a yoga studio, there are often positions where you can clean up the studio before or after classes in exchange for free classes. Some of these options might not work for you, but hopefully, they’ll get your creative juices flowing!

Another thing that I like to do, weather permitting, is to take a walk outside during my lunch break at work. It resets me from having to just star at a computer screen and fluorescent lighting all day. Not to mention that if I didn’t get to do this, I would almost never see the sun in the winter.

Eat Well

Something we already touched on as part of a Focused Frugal February is grocery shopping and food. What we haven’t talked about is the time it can take to eat well. What we end up doing in our house is only cooking a few days each week, making large meals that can last a couple of days. This gives us some of our time back each week while still allowing us to avoid the fast food grab on the way home from work.

Wrap It Up!

It’s important that self care is not only not selfish, but it is necessary! This topic was discussed as part of the Frugal Friends podcast a few weeks ago and they said something that resonated with me.

You cannot pour from an empty cup

With this in mind, focus on what makes you feel renewed and gives you the energy to tackle everything else going on in your life. There are constantly things that are pulling at your time and energy so make sure you take the time to care for yourself so that you can live the rest of your life in a manner than fits your priorities and values.

How do you manage your own self care? Let me know in the comments below!