How to Practice Self-Care Without Breaking the Bank

Self-care has become a fad, and a pricey one at that. But self-care isn’t about spending money on healing crystals, boutique beauty products, expensive vacations or lavish shopping sprees. Most real self-care is incredibly affordable and easily achievable.

Here are 18 self-care ideas, all of which can be done for free or under $20, that everyone can pop into their wellness toolkit…

Start meditating with a free app.

A lot of people think that meditation is not for them. But meditation is for everyone. As humans, we are meant to have quiet time where our brain jacuzzi shuts down for maintenance. Plenty of dogs are expert meditators, staring off into space, fully present in the moment, and look how happy they are! Even if you are skeptical, it is worth giving it a fair shot. You have absolutely nothing to lose. Headspace is a great resource if you’re new to mediation and on a strict budget.

Related: 5 Ways to Meditate if Meditation Scares You

Take a long, hot shower or bath.

Feel the hot water lap or patter rhythmically against your skin. Let yourself sigh and relax into the embrace of the warmth. Soak in epsom salts, add bubbles, add shower oils, light a candle. Really take advantage of your bathing experience. If you’re not taking an indulgent bath or shower once a week, you are really missing out on an effective, affordable healing experience.

Indulge in a reading/music hour.

Find a small corner of your day to just sit and read, journal, listen to music and be with your thoughts. If you have a record player, dust it off and toss on your favorite record. If there’s a book you’ve been meaning to finish, now’s the time. Create unstructured time and space for your intellectual and creative needs. It will feel surprisingly refreshing and productive.

Writing in journal

Start a positivity journal.

Positive thinking is a practice. Our brains are wired to focus on the negative. It’s why most of our ancestors didn’t fall into canyons or get eaten by bears. They focused on how dangerous the momma bear was, rather than how cuddly and friendly the cubs looked. And that’s why we still exist today!

But in the modern era, positivity serves us on a more spiritual level. Feel better about yourself, your life and the world around you by keeping a daily journal about all of the wonderful things going on. Just 10 minutes of positive thought patterns can balance out the mental scales quite a bit. (If you’re not into the idea of forced positivity, clearing your thoughts stream-of-consciousness style in a journal every day can blissfully unload a lot of stressful mental clutter.)

Eat some chocolate.

Eating chocolate is always self-care. It’s good for you and makes you feel all warm and happy inside. If you’re not into chocolate, this can also apply to fine cheese, wine, coffee or anything that you find truly indulgent to consume.

Related: How to Find the Best Vegan Cheese

Go to the library.

I know, it seems so analog. But libraries are still a great resource for getting out of the house and indulging in some great reading. Books can be expensive, so let a library become your mind and wallet’s best friend.

coffee drip in coffee pot pouring into the ceramic cup on the wooden table in coffee shop

Sip some tea or good coffee.

There is something special about sipping a hot beverage alone. Snuggle into a corner and sip away, letting thoughts drift in and out of your consciousness.

Spend time with loved ones.

No fancy body oil can top a coffee date with your most beloved friends and family. If you’re feeling lonely, depressed or bored, make a date to catch up with your loved ones. Take a walk, grab a beverage or make a meal together.

Clean your house.

Ugh, I know. This sounds like no fun at all. But, if you enjoy a clean space (who doesn’t?)  keeping a tidy living space is huge for self-care. Disorganization can cause subconscious stress that weighs your spirit down. Keep on top of your messes so that they don’t become overwhelming and cause anxiety, or worse, a breakdown.

Related: Why Does Clutter Stress Us Out?

Close up of female left hand holding yellow massage ball

Luxuriate in some self-massage.

Your body needs love on the regular. Go invest in some tennis balls and you’ve got yourself unlimited self-massage in a can. The tennis ball is incredibly effective at releasing myofascial trigger points, or knots. A regular self-massage practice can reduce risk of injury and keep your body loose and limber between visits to your massage therapist. Self-massage techniques are easy to learn on the internet, or have a trusted friend give you some tips.

Take a walk outside.

Ah, fresh air. Nothing is quite as relaxing and therapeutic as a meandering journey in nature. Absorb some stabilizing sunlight, oxygenate your body and feel re-energized. Nature reduces depression, improves immunity and quiets the mind. Get yourself out of your box and get outside.

Shut down social media.

Take a break. Social media can cause anxiety and takes you out of the moment. Experience your life without a technological lens for a change. It will feel so liberating.

Human hands drawing in adult coloring book

Doodle or color.

Creating art in general is great for awakening creativity and lowering stress levels. Buy an adult coloring book or take up a new artistic hobby, like watercoloring or sketching No paper? Try free coloring apps like Recolor or Pigment. Whether you’re making silly stick figures or a massive mural, art feeds the soul.


It is important to move your body. If you don’t, your muscles and joints will become hard, stiff and inflexible. And that feels just horrible. But gym memberships can be expensive. Find a YouTube video to do some home yoga or a HIIT workout. You’ll soon feel great again.

Get dressed up.

If you’re feeling stressed or a little down, get dressed up. Working from home, I find that making myself presentable and even putting on a bit of lipstick can make me feel happier and more productive, even if I never leave the house.

Girl sleeping on the sofa

Take a nap.

If you love naps, treat yourself. A lot of us have a significant sleep deficit, so get a few extra Zs is always a wonderful idea. Plus, it’s free and it’ll feel great!

Cook yourself a nourishing meal.

If you are always rushing in and out of the house, make space in your schedule to cook yourself a wholesome, healthy meal from scratch at least twice a week. The food will be healthier than eating out and be prepared exactly the way you like it. No need to get complicated. There are plenty of healthy homemade recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less. Lighter is a great resource for easy, healthy, diet-specific recipes to get you started.

Do whatever makes you happiest.

If you’re happiest on a long run, go for it. If you’re happiest snuggled up on the couch watching Netflix, that’s fine too. Make space in your schedule for something that makes you happy every single day. Self-care is that simple.

Self-care doesn’t have to be this expensive, posh endeavor reserved for hipsters and rich white women. We all need and deserve to love and care for ourselves in the best possible way. And that doesn’t require expensive facials, massages, crystals, beauty products or shopping sprees. Let’s redefine the meaning of self-care to cut out the consumerism and focus on the intention.

What affordable self-care practices are part of your life? Share your tips with the community below!

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Hannah A
Hannah A13 days ago


Sophie A
Sophie A16 days ago


Savanna P
Savanna Pabout a month ago

Loved this!! Very useful

Marie W
Marie W7 months ago

thanks for sharing

Ruth S
Ruth S9 months ago


W. C
W. C10 months ago

Thank you.

William C
William C10 months ago


KimJ M
KimJ M11 months ago


KimJ M
KimJ M11 months ago


KimJ M
KimJ M11 months ago