Mindfulness & Massage


Ways to engage in "self-care" without spending money

July 21, 2019

Self-care is not a new concept. But as of late, it has become more acceptable to engage in self-care. Encouraged, even. Most of the time, you will see it as an energizing face mask or a sugar foot scrub, and will happily buy it to treat yourself after a hard day. After all, don't you deserve it? 

Thus, self-care has become a profitable industry. That is not to say there is no joy to be had from these products. On the contrary, they are an excellent way to engage the senses and appreciate your body. However, the marketing of these products does, in some ways, dilute the true meaning of self-care. The main flaw being that you don't need to spend money to show yourself some TLC. Don't believe me? Here are 5 ideas to start:

  1.  Drink more water. It seems like an obvious one but I am willing to bet you don't drink enough. I certainly don't. It might not feel glamorous downing your 8th glass for the day but it really does show your body some love. And it can do wonders for your skin (See? No need for the face mask now).
  2.  Self-massage. Sometimes you do need a 120-minute full body massage from a massage professional. But sometimes you just need your own hands and a tennis ball. After a stressful day, whether you've been at work, running errands, or doing household chores, take a second to feel out your tender points. If it's somewhere easily accessible like your shoulder or leg, try teasing out the trigger points with your own hands. If it's on your back, grab a tennis ball, or any small round object, and roll it around your muscles in between you and a wall (sometimes I slide my back up and down a door frame if I can't find a ball). And if you have a willing partner, you could try giving each other shoulder/back massages.
  3.  Meditation. Not the most novel idea but you really can't go wrong with meditation. If you try meditation, and stick with it, you will be singing its praises. But if you haven't stuck with it, either because you don't believe in its efficacy or you got frustrated after 5 minutes of mind-wandering and gave up, then give it another try. Set an alarm, focus on your breathing, body scanning, or an image, and gently bring yourself back to present when your mind begins to wander. And remember, on days when you're the busiest, and it's hard to squeeze in the time, that is exactly when you need it the most. Don't forget to carve time for yourself into your schedule.
  4. Exercise. At this moment, you are probably scrolling back up to double check the title of this blog post. You said this would be about self-care, not self-torture!  Yes. I did say that. And sometimes exercise can be torture. But the way your body feels from exercise is unbeatable. Your body is built for way more exercise than it currently gets (I take that back if you're an Olympic athlete). In one extreme example, the indigenous RarĂ¡muri of Chihuahua, Mexico are known for running 200 miles in a single session (watch the documentary Goshen or read Born to Run, both about these amazing runners). While that may not be what the average human was running thousands of years ago, it's likely we were more nomadic then than we are now, sitting at our desks hunched over all day. And as Elle Woods once said, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands..." So your spouse will thank you too.
  5.  Yoga/stretching. This is essential, especially if you exercise regularly. When I first started running, I would get this weird sensation in my legs, like an urge to contract them. I assumed it was my legs craving running, but realized later they only felt satiated after being stretched. Soon after I began a regular stretching regimen, and now look forward to the stretches every night. It's one of the best ways to say thank you to your muscles. It feels good in the moment, improves your range of motion, and can go a long way in preventing the ever-dreaded DOMS after an intense workout.