Save Time, Money, and Yourself: Budgeting for Self-Care
By Emma Grace Brown
The idea of self-care conjures up activities that may come with a hefty price tag, from spa days and massages to mini-vacations. The advice from the publication Her Money cautions that self-care costs should comprise “about 5 percent of your budget, maximum,” but that also assumes a level of disposable income that many people may not have — especially those survivors of gender-based violence that Survivor Strong serves. And yet, self-care is essential to you, the survivor. Your emotional well-being is essential to your physical and mental health. But you can engage in self-care without sacrificing your finances. Here are ways how.
Self-care in the home
Get started with inexpensive self-care activities in the embrace of your own four walls. Explore free meditation apps — not only can they help guide you through mindfulness exercises, but most provide soothing tracks that facilitate healthy sleep, which is an important component of self-care and health. Many apps offer a free trial and then charge for various membership levels, but if you’re diligent, you can find some that are truly free (although they may suggest donations to meditation and music contributors).
Get elaborate with your bath or shower so it does double-duty as a self-care function versus simply a hygienic one. Dim the light and then break out the candles, essential oil diffuser or incense, and Epsom salts or bath bombs, and let the warm water envelop you as you let go of negative thoughts. If you don’t have a bathtub or baths aren’t your thing, a warm shower can offer similar benefits. In fact, a shower can give you more versatility — while a warm bath or shower can relax you and help you sleep, a cool or cold shower can elevate your mood and may even bolster your immune system.
Carving out time for one of your favorite pastimes or hobbies is also a form of self-care. Allow yourself some quiet reading time every day. Even coloring, working on jigsaw puzzles, sewing, or knitting can be gifts to yourself that you don’t need to feel guilty about, financially or emotionally!
Being outdoors and forging a connection with nature can have a very restorative effect on the human body. It reminds us that we are all connected and that there is a circle of life that accepts you and your human imperfections. It costs nothing but determination to take a walk or visit a municipal park. A few dollars will get you some pots, soil, and seedlings to start an herb or flower garden. Simply breathing in the air and perhaps catching a hint of newly cut grass or a post-rain cleanse can help ground and connect you.
You can remove some of your mental clutter with self-care activities like meditation, but physical clutter is also a hindrance to self-care. Looking at cluttered rooms each day can be stressful. If you’ve recently gone through a bad experience in your home, such as living with an abusive partner, any remaining negative energy can zap you emotionally and leave you feeling ill at ease or even trapped. Cleaning and then organizing your home is the first step in releasing that negative energy and replacing it with a recognition that you have control over these aspects of your life, which is an empowering feeling!
When you have to navigate through clutter just to perform necessary tasks, whether it’s cooking a meal or paying bills, you’re spending time unnecessarily that could be devoted to you and your self-improvement. It may require some time upfront — and you may even need to talk yourself into it — but that time spent now can be channeled into creating a healthy home atmosphere that helps you focus on loving yourself.
Better you, better boundaries
Making time for self-care is one of the most selfless things you can do — selfless, not selfish. The time that you take to improve your emotional health is an investment in improving and empowering you — something that can boost your confidence and help you set the necessary boundaries for your continued survival. But remember you don’t need to go this alone — if you need help or are just looking for a nudge to get started, reach out to Survivor Strong for the care you need. It costs you nothing to take the first step on your self-care journey.
Emma Grace Brown is a writer, self-care enthusiast, and blogger. Check out more of her work on her blog My Life, My Rules.