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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.

Sleep

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.

self-care

What is self-care and why do you need it?

June 18, 2019
What is self-care and why do you need it?

What is self-care?

Self-care is the practice of looking after yourself to protect and/or improve your physical and mental health.

It means ensuring that we’re aware of and are actively taking care of our needs.

It’s impossible to go through life without stress or issues that we need to deal with. We all have to navigate work, family and relationship challenges that are sometimes completely out of our control.

Self-care is the act of understanding that these things have an impact so we can better take care of ourselves.

Why you need to practice self-care

Self-care sounds very simple in theory, however, the reality is that it’s often something we overlook. We can be so busy doing things for other people, we forget about looking after ourselves too.

Yet, in order to be able to do our jobs properly and care for others, we need to be in a good physical and emotional state. We need energy and balanced emotions; otherwise, it’s easy to feel frazzled, snappy or simply run down.

The emergency drill on planes always tell you to put your oxygen mask on before helping someone else. I’ve never really understood this; thinking my first reaction would be to save my child (and then remove my high heeled shoes to go down the big slide – joke). But the reality is, you can’t save anyone, if you can’t breathe. You need to equip yourself to make sure you can look after everyone else.

I appreciate that’s quite a bleak example; however, hopefully the message behind it makes sense. You have to look after yourself to be the best for everyone else.

you can’t pour from an empty cup

Self-care and understanding what your mind and body needs means you can protect and preserve yourself. Fundamentally, it will give you more energy and help you feel better able to deal with challenges as they come along. Practising self-care doesn’t make us selfish; we’re just recognising we have needs too.

When we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re more likely to feel fatigued and get physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach issues.

Self-care helps us to create that balance.

How to start a self-care routine? Carry out a self-care audit

The best way to start a self-care routine is to recognise you need to think about yourself too amongst, everything else that’s happening in your life.

We all have different issues happening at different times in our lives so it makes sense that what we need from a self-care routine will be unique to all of us.

Try to reflect on where you are currently. Ask yourself questions about how you’re feeling. Are you tired? Are your emotions hard to deal with? Do you think you’re suffering with signs of stress such as feeling teary, snappy or down?

I created this self-care audit template so you can work through it and see what areas you could focus on. All you need to do is reflect on some of the questions and see if there are some simple changes or actions you can take to look after yourself better.

Often we don’t see the toll that stress or life challenges are taking on us until it’s too late, so identifying potential triggers helps us put self-care strategies in place. As a doctor would say: prevention is better than cure.

It’s also important to remember, your self-care routine will need to adapt and change depending on what else is going on in your life so check in with yourself regularly.

20 simple self-care ideas

quick and easy self-care ideas
  1. Practice self-compassion and talk to yourself as though you’re a friend and not a critic.
  2. Run a bath. Yes, I know a hot bath with candles is a self-care cliche. However, it’s a great way to take 20 minutes out for yourself and rest your muscles.
  3. Remember done is better than perfect. Give yourself a break.
  4. Get into good sleep patterns.
  5. Create and reinforce boundaries.
  6. Take time out for yourself. Go to a yoga class, read a book – anything that’s just for you.
  7. Drink more water.
  8. Go for a walk. Fresh air and exercise are always beneficial.
  9. Practice mindfulness which has proven benefits on improving mental health. Daily meditation will help with stress relief and calming an overactive mind. Try Andrew Johnson or the Headspace App.
  10. Talk about your feelings and try not to let things build up. I appreciate this is easier said than done so think about journaling and write about your feelings instead.
  11. Are you eating properly? My diet turns to custard when I get busy. I don’t have the time to buy food, never mind cook it.. Try to plan in advance with a few frozen meals so you have something nutritious to eat when time is minimal.
  12. Choose a couple of things each day to tick off your to do list. There’s only so much you can do in a day so try to break down tasks, rather than feeling a failure for not achieving the unachievable.
  13. Have a digital detox. Ever fall down an Instagram rabbit hole and wonder what you’re doing with your life? Yes, me too. Think about switching off your phone once a week or after 8pm.
  14. Prepare in advance. There is a saying that says: ‘a Sunday well spent, brings a week of content’ and it’s true. I find if I plan for my week ahead, then life runs a lot smoother.
  15. Learn to say no. I often find myself saying yes to things out loud even though I’m saying no in my head, which is utterly ridiculous. It’s a hard habit to shake but an important one.
  16. Keep a gratitude diary. I feel I bang on about my gratitude practice a lot but it’s one of the easiest ways to change your neural pathways and help you feel more positive about life.
  17. Focus on your own personal growth. It’s hard to go through life without picking up some emotional baggage. It’s good to focus on your own self-development and become more self-aware as a result.
  18. Put yourself first. If you’re tired and you don’t want to go to something, then don’t go. You’re allowed to rest and recuperate.
  19. Celebrate your successes. I’m great at beating myself up when I feel I’ve messed up and terrible at congratulating myself when I’ve done well.
  20. And lastly, breathe. Even focusing on your breath for a minute will help calm your thinking.

self-care

Self-care practices and how to implement them

March 26, 2019
self-care practices and how to implement them

What is self-care?

Self-care is the practice of ensuring we are looking after ourselves physically and emotionally. This helps us navigate through life easier.

Whilst the self-care phrase has been mocked for just being about candles and baths (both of which I love); it is fundamentally important to make sure we are giving ourselves what we need.

Stresses about our families, finances, work all play on our minds. Eating badly, sleeping badly, becoming dehydrated and not exercising enough affect our physical health.

So how can we put self-care practices in place?

Our lives fluctuate and so it’s important to think about what we need to help with the situations we are experiencing at that moment in time. We are all individuals and our experiences are different so it’s important our self-care practices reflect what we need. In a previous post, I put together a self-care audit template so you can work through areas to focus on.

It’s important to then think about what self-care practices we can put in place to help and how we can do this realistically. What self-care isn’t, is a stick to beat ourselves up with. For that reason, I would choose only a few practices to put in place at any one time.

What are good self-care practices?

Nutrition: I find the advice about nutrition overwhelming and busy lives can make it hard to eat well. I try to start the day with a smoothie (2/3rds green veg and/or beetroot and 1/3rd fruit) so I know I’m getting some vitamins. I buy frozen fruit to save time in the morning. I also find taking my lunch to work helps. It’s very hard to eat the perfect diet and our bodies all metabolise food differently. I would choose one thing to start with such as cutting down on takeaways and then take it from there.

Dealing with stress: stress is an inevitable part of life. However, it’s important to understand the physical and mental impact it has on us. Try to rest and yes, take a bath or light a candle. Think about a mindfulness practice and download an App such as Headspace or Andrew Johnson to help. Look at ways you can minimise what is causing you stress – although admittedly, sometimes it’s out of our control and we need to just be kind to ourselves.

Good sleep hygiene: sleep is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing. Going to bed at a regular time; switching off phones at least an hour before bed; avoiding alcohol and making your bedroom a sleeping sanctuary should all help.

Give yourself permission to focus on you: there is a saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ and it’s so true. Sometimes we are so busy focusing on other people, we forget to take care of ourselves but being depleted means we can’t give either. Do something for yourself even if it’s just taking a short walk or sitting down with a coffee.

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