Self-care when you have no money

June 14, 2020

If there’s one thing that rattles my cage (and trust me, the word most people use to describe me is ‘calm’), it’s the commodification of self-care. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good bath lotion, I adore candles and I spend money on yoga and breath work classes because they make me feel a million times better. However, what I don’t like though, is the feeling that if you can’t buy these things (and let’s face it mes amis, we’re heading into one of the biggest recessions in years), then somehow you’re not investing in your self-care and you’re not looking after yourself properly. In the same way, that exercise shouldn’t just be about the gym, self-care isn’t about consumerism either. We need to separate what are luxury products and think about what self-care is especially when you have no money.

Consumer culture and self-care

Truth time, I’m very easily influenced – no pun intended – and it’s something I really have to keep on top of. I’m really susceptible to branding, latest trends and the higher the price tag, the more I seem to place value on it… Honestly, I’m a marketer’s wet dream, to the degree, I would buy snow from eskimos if it came in good packaging. This is why I know how well self-care has been commodified and tbh, being able to treat yourself is one of the greatest pleasures in life.

However, fundamentally, good self-care should cost nothing. Buying a good candle but then not giving yourself space and time to relax and enjoy it means that investment hasn’t really been worth it. Good self-care is fundamentally about space and time and the rest is all gravy. Drops the mike.

When your love don’t cost a thing – and you’ve also worked out boundaries because self-care

Self-care when you have no money

So what do you do when you’re need for self-care is high but your cash flow is low? Because let’s be honest here, being skint is stressful and this is when you need to look after yourself more than ever. How do you make that happen when money is tight and I’m not talking just because you’re saving for a holiday…? Well, here are some simple ideas on how to still invest in your self-care when you have no money.

Switch off social media (for most of your day)

I’m not suggesting switching off social media so you don’t see lots of adverts or people doing nice things… I just think we need to be aware that social media is a noise and it can make you feel a bit shit about yourself. I allow myself 70 minutes per day to look at all my social media channels and then my phone switches them off. We’re not good at being in our own thoughts and allowing ourselves to just be. So this is why I suggest manually limiting time on these channels and giving yourself some headspace.

Be at one with nature

I can only imagine what my neighbours must think when they see me kicking off my shoes and embracing a tree in our communal garden in Peckham. However, one of the best things you can do for yourself is spend time in nature. I’m not talking about roaming the Norfolk broads or wild swimming, just spending time tending a house plant or being in your local park will do. Seeing just a bit of nature makes the biggest difference to our wellbeing and it costs nothing.

Listen to a podcast

Now, I tried to google this to prove my theory and didn’t find much scientific evidence… HOWEVER, I fully believe listening to a podcast takes a lot less out of you than watching TV and so is therefore better for your wellbeing. Fully open to being shouted down by a scientist… But the best thing is podcasts are free.

I wonder if it’s because it’s more of an intimate relationship? It’s more conversational? Or it only requires one of the senses to concentrate? Anyway, regardless, here are some of my favourite wellbeing podcasts (placed in the order that I thought of them in). Just as an FYI, I only listen to the edited highlights of Russell Brand’s Under the Skin because I don’t want to buy a monthly subscription… I know we should pay for content (she says writing a blog for nothing…), however, needs must and this is a blog about self-care when you have no money after all 🙂

  1. How to Fail with Elizabeth Day
  2. That’s so Retrograde
  3. Happy Place
  4. Under the Skin
  5. Happier with Gretchen Rubin

Practice gratitude

I’ve written a lot about practicing gratitude and the difference it makes to your mindset. However, what do you do (and I’m not correlating this to having no cash) when things are really shit? And you feel like you don’t have anything to feel grateful for? Well, in those circumstances – and we all have them – then cast your mind back to things you were grateful for in the past and think of those examples until things start to feel a bit better.

Practicing gratitude is one of the best things you can do for your outlook. Plus, all you need is paper and pen.


One of the best things all of us can do is make sure we get enough sleep. The amount you need varies from person to person, but for me, eight hours is the dream (pun intended). Get into good sleep habits and give your physical and mental body time to recuperate and replenish. Sleep is honestly one of the best things you can do for yourself and it’s free.

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