The first section of my self care email course (which you can get FREE by signing up for my newsletter) tackles a variety of myths about self care, but there’s one major myth it doesn’t really get into: the idea that self care costs money. Today I’d like to help you challenge this myth.
How the media encourages us to associate self care with spending
In the past few years–and especially since the 2016 American election–mental health has been brought into the light. The stigma is still pervasive throughout society, but we’ve started having the conversations. And many of these conversations revolve around the concept of self care. I would even go so far as to say that self care has become the most popular conversation related to mental health.
There are a couple major reasons why self care has been propelled to the forefront of these conversations. One is that everyone, regardless of mental illness, needs to practice self care. This gives it some separation from the icky topic of mental illness. It also means that self care can appeal to a wider audience.
Self care also lends itself to marketing, especially the way it’s practiced by mainstream “gurus”. On many self care lists every single idea requires you to first buy a product. These products can be anything from bath bombs and yoga mats to a day at the spa. Companies can make a fortune by convincing people their products are great self care tools. And a “guru” with a large enough audience can make another fortune in sponsorships from those companies.
To be fair, many of these products are great tools for self care. Some items, like a yoga mat, can also be used hundreds or even thousands of times (this assumes that the reader is able bodied, but that’s a conversation for another article). But simply purchasing these items doesn’t count as self care, and they’re not accessible to everyone. Some people can’t afford to spend even a few dollars on self care.
More importantly, self care doesn’t have to cost money. It doesn’t even have to take a lot of time.
Self care everyone can access
My email course is designed to help you create a personalized self care plan, focusing on what time/energy you have available and activities you actually enjoy. Today I’d like to suggest a few free activities you can include in that plan:
When you hear the word “journal” you probably think about simply recounting your days, but a journal can be so much more. You can do morning or evening pages to clear your head. You can choose to tackle specific memories or difficult topics. You can start a gratitude journal. As a writer, your journal can even become a space for collecting story ideas.
The best part about journaling is that it’s 100% free. You’re reading this, which means you already have a device you can use as a journal. And dictation software means you don’t even need to have free hands. All you need is a few minutes of spare time.
There are dozens of studies proving that meditation is good for you, and it also happens to be free. All you need is a quiet room and a comfortable place to sit. If you have trouble clearing your mind in pure silence, consider using a guided meditation. If you’re able bodied you can also learn to do yoga, martial arts, or even dance as moving meditation. I’ve always preferred moving meditation myself, as I find it much easier to clear my thoughts when I’m focused on physical sensations (it’s also a good way to get my butt out of the chair).
Adding even a short meditation period–many experts recommend starting with two to five minutes a day–to your day can help you stay calm and focused.
3. Connect with others
Self care may be about you, but you’re a social animal like everyone else. Maintaining active, caring relationships with other people is incredibly important. Schedule time at least once a week to connect with someone you love, even if it’s only for a five minute phone call.
Of course, this only works if you connect with supportive, compassionate people. We often love people who are bad for us, especially if those people also happen to be related to us. But those people aren’t going to replenish your soul. When you’re scheduling self care time with another person, that person has to be someone who brings you joy, who makes your life a little better every time you see them. And you can’t let anyone else invade that time.
Want to know more about creating your own personalized self care plan? Sign up for my newsletter below and get a FREE three part email course, Self Care Planning for Creatives! (ONLY members signed up for the “Blog Updates” list receive the newsletter)