12 Free & Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care (And Why It’s So Important to Make Time For You!)
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As a modern homesteader with a never-ending to-do list, it’s definitely not always easy to find the time to practice self-care. But it truly does benefit you (and everyone else) when you take care of yourself first. You’ll find you’re healthier, happier, more productive and have more energy to tackle your to-do list and take care of all of the other people you love most in life.
Fair enough, right? But where do we find the time? The thing is, if we’re constantly looking to find the time, it will almost always escape us. Instead, we need to make time. Make self-care a priority. Schedule it in each day and commit to it. Do something each and every day that’s just for you. Work on constantly improving yourself and caring for your own needs so that you can be a strong asset to your loved ones, your homestead and your community. Be the best version of you and aim for optimal health and wellbeing in your life. You and your family deserve no less than that.
Okay sure. But who has extra money laying around to spend on pampering themselves?
Simple solution: Don’t spend a dime.
The beauty of everyday self-care is that it need not be expensive or time-consuming. While it’s nice to go for a spa day every once in a while or get your hair and nails done (when is the next blue moon again?), those are certainly not the only ways to practice self-care. There are lots of things you can do for free -many in just a few minutes- to start taking care of you and, in turn, making sure there’s more of you to give each day.
Here’s a list of my favourite free ways to practice self-care. They can all be done at home or in your neighbourhood or community for free or for next to no monetary cost. All they require is a little time, which is one of the wisest investments you can make.
12 Free & Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care
1. Read (or Listen)
Reading is one of my favourite ways to nourish the soul. While reading can be an excellent escape from the stresses of daily life, it can also help soothe and comfort us in times of need, and to grow as we go through life’s ups and downs. I personally like to read non-fiction, so I usually opt for books about personal development and spiritual growth. But fiction is also a great way to escape into another world that’s yours alone when you go there in your mind.
Save money on buying new by reading and re-reading the books on your shelves, going to the library or swapping with friends and neighbours. And if you really hate reading, try an audiobook or even listen to a free podcast.
I’m a huge fan of podcasts and listen for free on iTunes on topics ranging from homesteading to personal development to inspirational stories. You can find a podcast on just about any topic you can think of. Plus, the upside to listening to a book or podcast is that your hands are free to take care of all those other important things you’ve got goin’ on. And while I don’t necessarily endorse multitasking while practicing self-care, sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
To be honest, I’m happiest when I’m listening to podcasts and audiobooks in my kitchen as I work away at preparing meals and preserving food, or while I’m in the garden weeding or harvesting. Multitasking isn’t necessarily a dirty word in the self-care world when done right.
2. Go For a Walk
There is lots of research to suggest that simply getting outside and going for a walk is good for the mind, body and soul. If you can, find a quiet place out in nature and allow yourself ample time to meander, to stop and smell the flowers and to breathe in the fresh air all around you. A forest, beach or country road is ideal, but any park, esplanade or quiet neighbourhood in the city will do well too if you don’t have easy access to nature. And if you’re short on time, simply go for a brisk walk around the block (or even around your property if you have acreage). It will still do wonders for your overall wellbeing and can be done on your lunch break or after your morning chores are complete.
Upgrade: If you want to reap even more health benefits, go for a run. According to a 2015 article from health.com, running just 5 or 6 miles a week is enough to lower the risk of certain cancers, stroke, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
3. Take a Bath/Pamper Yourself
You don’t need to go to the spa to pamper yourself like a queen (or king). If you’re used to taking quick showers in the morning and getting on with your day, simply taking the time to soak in a hot bath is enough to make you feel like you’re living in the lap of luxury. While you’re at it, use the fancy soap and the bath salts. What are you actually saving them for anyway?
Shave your legs (ladies) and exfoliate your whole body. When you’re done, moisturize from head to toe, dry and style your hair and maybe even give yourself a pedicure. Put on your comfiest pyjamas (as I highly suggest having a bath before bed) and then tuck yourself in with a good book, a hot cuppa tea and some lavender oil on your pillow and enjoy what might easily be the best sleep you’ve had in a long time.
Speaking of sleep, make sure you’re getting plenty! Sleep is one of the best things we can do for our mental and physical wellbeing, and most of us are not getting enough.
If your days start early, make a habit of going to bed early enough to get at least 7 hours in. If you work late, try not to schedule anything too early in the morning so you get enough on the other end. And if you’re feeling really squeezed on both ends, try slipping in a nap after work or on your lunch break. Or perhaps reevaluate your daily schedule as sleep is of utmost importance for peak productivity and overall wellbeing.
Pro Tip: If you have trouble sleeping, try diffusing essential oils like lavender, vetiver or chamomile, or putting a few drops on your pillow if you don’t own a diffuser.
Also, turn off all electronics (or at least stop using them) at least an hour before bed. If you read, read a paperback book rather than an electronic copy. And make a habit of going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning to help your body get into a routine. If you’re still struggling with sleep, talk to your doctor about other methods that may help.
5. Swap Massages With Your Partner
Sure, you could pay a ton of money for a massage (and sometimes it’s worth it to do so), but if you’ve got a special someone, you can exchange massages and help one another relax and de-stress at no cost in the comfort of your own home. That’s part of the package deal, right?
And as an added bonus, you’ll be making quality time for one another which is good for you both.
For an amazing at-home aromatherapy massage, add a few drops of your favourite, skin-safe essential oil(s) with some carrier oil and have your partner massage it into your neck, back and feet. Be sure to return the favour and you will both come away feeling a renewed sense of relaxation and intimacy with each other. Win-win.
6. Make Time to Socialize With Good People
This is probably the thing I am the absolute worst at on this entire list, and if you’re an introvert too, you might be thinking the same thing. In fact, for many introverts, making time to socialize does not sound like self-care at all. It sounds like torture. But I can honestly say that when I do make time to catch up with friends, whether in person or on the phone, I always feel better and more energized after.
Even if all you can commit to is a short phone call with a dear friend, pick up the phone and make it happen. Good friends have a way of building us up, making us feel loved and reminding us of why we’re awesome, and we could all use a little more of that.
If you don’t have many friends you can call or get together with, consider signing up for a free class or event in your community. Or make time to volunteer. Get to know other like-minded people. Find your tribe. And cut out anyone who constantly brings you down. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
7. Do Yoga/Meditate
Doing yoga does not mean you need to go to a class full of sweaty bodies and contort yourself into all sorts of impossible positions for a monthly fee. You can find lots of amazing yoga videos on Youtube for free. Just roll out your mat in your living room and follow along.
And if you’re not on board with twisting your body into a pretzel to reap the benefits, try some restorative yoga, which is all about slow, relatively simple movements and positions held for a long time in order to really stretch your muscles and breathe oxygen into all parts of your body. I’m super lazy when it comes to exercise, and restorative yoga is by far my favourite “workout.”
If yoga really isn’t your thing or if you only have a few short minutes, try meditating without the yoga instead. Sit in a quiet place and close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Bring your awareness to the tips of your toes and slowly move up your body, focusing on each area as you go all the way up to the top of your head (this is called a Body Scan).
Or try a guided meditation instead. There are tons of free guided meditations on Youtube ranging in length from 5 minutes to an hour or more.
8. Make Time For Your Hobbies
Whether you like to cook, garden, knit, sew, hunt, fish, read, write, paint, sculpt, scrapbook or dance naked under the full moon, make time in your life for the hobbies and passions that make you feel whole and alive.
Sometimes (especially as homesteaders) it’s easier to make time for our hobbies when we feel they are also productive (ie. cooking for our family or hunting for our food). But remember that all hobbies are productive because they are good for our souls.
Whether you have something physical to show for your efforts in the end or not, making time to engage in your favourite hobbies is like chicken soup for the soul. Because hey, if dancing naked under the moon is what makes you happy, you go on wit’ yo bad self!
9. Eat Well
Our diets are often one of the first things that we start to neglect when we are stressed out, overworked or going through a hard time. We tend to grab quick and easy, carbohydrate-rich, overly-processed comfort foods to fuel and console us in busy times and in bad times alike, but these are the times when we most need to be eating healthy, nutrient-rich, whole foods.
Since you’re here, visiting a homesteading blog, I’m gonna go ahead and assume that you probably enjoy cooking meals from scratch and even growing some of your own healthy, organic food. If so, you’re off to a great start. Keep doing what you’re doing and maybe even make extra food when you are cooking and then freeze some or meal prep for the week ahead. This will make eating well convenient for you as you will have healthy meals made and ready to be heated up when you need them.
If you don’t do much cooking at home, make time to start. If you’re purchasing most of your ingredients instead of growing them yourself, source out fresh, local, organic ingredients whenever possible and pay the extra money for them. It is a worthwhile investment to buy the best food for yourself and your family, even if it costs a little more up front. Then spend a bit of time meal prepping and planning for the week so you eat well every day and have good food on hand to nourish you and that temple of a body you were blessed with.
10. Give Yourself A Break
Take a load off and stop doing everything for everyone. If you have a family or a spouse at home, you can delegate some of your shared responsibilities to the other people in your household.
Maybe your partner can handle grocery shopping this week or your kids can do the dishes or maybe even be responsible for a couple meals a week. If you are homesteading and have a garden and/or livestock, delegate some of the chores of watering, weeding and feeding animals to the other members of your family. These are great tasks for children if they’re old enough to handle them, and you’ll be doing them a great service too by teaching them responsibility and valuable life skills.
11. Turn Off Technology
If you’ve ever been sucked into the vortex of scrolling through Facebook for hours on end, you know what a time-suck technology and social media can be. Likewise if you regularly find yourself zoning out in front of the TV or watching cat videos on Youtube until 2 a.m. when you need to be up in just a few hours.
Then there’s the whole “comparing yourself to a bunch of strangers on Instagram” thing that often leaves you feeling like you’re not good enough. And if you ever scroll down to the comments section on any given post or article nowadays, well let’s just say it can spark all sorts of negative emotions ranging from anger to hopelessness about the state of the world today and how badly people can treat each other.
Solution? Turn it off! I have deliberately shut down my social media accounts a couple times in my life and have always felt happier and better about myself and about life in general when I have. Now I use social media sparingly and make a conscious effort to only check my accounts once or twice a day.
We also recently got rid of cable and now only get our news through a couple of late night shows that we have access to on an app. This keeps the depressing, bad news out of our home by filtering it through a comedic lens and helps us to avoid commercials by using Netflix instead of regular cable when we want to watch something.
12. Just Be.
Sometimes the best form of self-care is allowing yourself to take a break and “just be” for a while.
Maybe that means you sit and stare out the window for a bit and zone out or collect your thoughts. Maybe it means you close your eyes and just focus on your breath and on being still. Perhaps it means that you linger a little longer when you hug your spouse or cuddle your children before bed. Or maybe it simply means that you put the past and future out of your head for a bit and focus on the present moment.
Just enjoy right now. Look around and recognize all of the beauty that surrounds you. Count your blessings. Enjoy whatever moment you’re in and savour it, because you’ll never ever get that moment back.
We often get so busy that we forget to enjoy life; To just be. We focus on all of the things we “need” to do; On mistakes we’ve made in the past and on events in our future that worry us. But when we stop and focus on the present moment, it can help to put it all in perspective. We’ve made it this far after all, and we’re alright. Even through all of life’s ups and downs, life is a beautiful gift that we need to learn to appreciate every day, because all we ever truly have is the present moment.
So don’t wait. Take time today to practice self-care for your own benefit and for the benefit of those you care most about (and who care most about you). Invest in yourself and reap the rewards throughout your lifetime. Feed your mind, body and soul only the best. Treat yourself to little luxuries whenever you can. Enjoy every moment of your life. Above all else, be kind to yourself and never feel guilty about taking time out just for you. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones, and you deserve no less.
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