“The average American spends $143,280 on self-care in their lifetime.” That’s about $199 per month, or 22% of their disposable income. Self-care is important but you don’t have to break the bank to pamper yourself. In fact, you can do it for free.
Canadians also spend a great deal of money on self-care. Canadian millennials alone spend $295 a month on self-care services and products.
Why is this? People know that self-care means you make room for a healthier lifestyle, find balance in life, and improve your confidence and self-esteem.
But here’s the thing: you don’t have to break the bank to pamper yourself. Yes, a day at the spa, a shopping spree, and expensive lunches are great but the cost adds up over time.
The good news is, you can get the same feel good results with FREE options.
Here are nine ways to pamper yourself for free. Let’s dive in!
1. Expand your mind by reading
There’s lots of research that explores the benefits of reading. These studies show that reading regularly will:
- Reduce memory loss. Reading is like a workout for your brain and offers mental stimulation.
- Broaden your perspective on topics. The more you read, the more informed you become.
- Lower stress levels. Allow yourself to get immersed in the story you’re reading and discover new ideas.
- Boost your critical thinking. Whether you’re reading fiction or non-fiction, your mind is thinking ahead, trying to figure out and anticipate what comes next.
- Improve your writing skills and vocabulary. Reading regularly exposes you to how well-written books and articles are constructed. You can use these techniques in your own writing to improve the flow and structure.
Head to your local library and stock up on books that focus on topics you’re interested in. If you’re tech savvy then check to see if your library offers free downloads for your tablet or phone. This lets you borrow books without actually stepping foot in the library.
Turn reading into a regular habit by building time into your day for it. For example, carve out 30 minutes of non-negotiable time to dedicate to reading. Schedule this to happen at the same time every day. Get cozy and pamper yourself with some reading socks, a warm blanket, and a cup of tea.
Personally, my favourite spot to read in my home is a comfy armchair in my bedroom. I can sink in and relax and dig into a book at the end of the day.
If you find that you can’t read more than a few pages at a time — because of distractions or time constraints — then consider listening to podcasts or audiobooks so you still get some mental stimulation. With audio you’re still focused on learning something new but you’re able to fit your learning into your schedule.
2. Practice sleeping better
Depending on your job and responsibilities, you might feel overworked and overwhelmed. A good night’s sleep will keep you mentally alert and irritation at bay.
While the amount of sleep you need differs from person-to-person, a general guide for most adults is between seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
I know this much sleep sounds like a luxury — especially if you have young kids who aren’t sleeping through the night or like to crawl into your bed in the wee hours of the morning — so keep in mind that it’s ultimately up to you how much sleep you get.
To make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night and not yawning by lunchtime, think about the things you’re doing at night that keep you up later than they should. Are you watching TV, surfing the web on your phone, or something else?
Identify these factors and start to weed them out. Love to look at your phone before bed? Unfortunately, the blue light from phones slows down the production of melatonin — a hormone that naturally controls your circadian rhythm — and makes it harder to fall asleep.
Once it’s bedtime, put your phone away and turn off notifications. This way your body knows it’s time to wind down and you’re not tempted to check new, incoming messages.
Also, while it might not be possible to go to bed at the same time every night, try to create a routine that you follow most nights. Your body will adjust and you’ll feel more rested the next day.
Pamper yourself by spritzing some sleep spray on your pillow to help you relax and get rid of lingering stress.
Most moms don’t need a sleep aid to fall asleep at night. Between chasing after kids, working a 9 to 5, spending time with a partner, and taking care of a host of other responsibilities, lots of women fall into bed and are asleep almost immediately.
If it takes you a little longer then do some light stretching before you climb into bed. This helps you fall asleep quicker, relaxes your mind, and removes tension in your body.
3. Find time to meditate or pray
One thing that has made a difference in my life is dedicating time to develop my prayer life. I usually start my day with 30-60 minutes of prayer and reading the Bible and what I’ve found is I’m more relaxed and calm during the day and a 1,000 times more productive.
Whether you pray or meditate, pamper yourself by finding a time in the day that works for you and stick with it. This can be first thing in the morning or at the end of your day.It doesn’t have to be long, make time based on what makes sense for you.
Hold yourself accountable for this time by tracking your progress so you can see the difference prayer and meditation have made.
Consistency is key to turning this option into a habit. If meditation is your thing, then use an app like Calm and choose from one of their many guided meditation sequences. The app is free to download and use. To access their premium meditation sequences, you’ll have to purchase a plan.
If you prefer prayer, then start a prayer journal to track your prayers and breakthroughs. I also like to read Bible plans that last a few days. I work through each one and pray over my day, life, circumstances based on the lesson learned in the study that day.
I like to use the Bible app by YouVersion because I can choose plans based on specific areas in my life that need prayer. Plus, it’s free to use.
4. Find time to workout at home
If you want to get in shape, there’s no need for an expensive gym membership. You can get fit from the comfort of your own home.
All you need is some space, a laptop, and you’re set. Working out doesn’t have to be complicated. Figure out the type of workout you’re excited about and chances are there’s a free option.
Hop on YouTube to find workout videos. Whatever type of workout you’re interested in, there’s a video for it. Start by searching for “workout videos” and enter the rabbit hole of possibilities!
Another option is to download an app that takes you through a guided workout. For example, if yoga is your thing, use the Down Dog app. You can customize your workout by choosing your skill level, the length of your session, and the part of your body you want to focus on. This app is free to download and use but there’s also a paid option if you want to access even more features.
5. Start tracking experiences with a gratitude journal
I can’t tell you enough how I love journaling. It’s become an almost daily habit. Some entries are longer than others but the focus is getting the thoughts of the day out of my head and onto paper. I’ve found that I’m less stressed and hung up on issues than when I don’t write about what’s going on.
Journaling costs nothing but your time. Practice gratitude and pamper yourself at the same time by writing about what’s going well in your life. You’re likely to feel more positive and motivated when you regularly focus on the positives in life.
If you feel stuck with what to write about, here are some journaling prompts to get the juices flowing:
- What are 10 things that would make you happy right now?
- What are you grateful for today?
- What people are you most thankful for and why?
- What’s an example of a big decision you made that worked out well?
- What was the most exciting thing you did today?
These are basic starter questions meant to get your mind juices flowing. As you start to write, new ideas will come to you. Explore them and see where they take you.
6. Get in shape by finding time to walk or run
As we head into the winter months and the temperature drops, it’s tempting to want to hibernate and never leave the house. While you’re nice and cozy indoors, you can still pamper yourself by working out.
Running is an especially good way to burn calories, clear your mind, and check in with your emotional well-being.
Find simple ways to get your walking in. Head to the mall to walk around. If you have kids then walk them to school in the morning or when you’re out and about, park further away from entrances.
This approach is meant to get you moving and off the couch rather than lose weight. We’ve all heard how bad it is to sit for too long so get up and start moving to improve your health and well-being.
If you want to lose weight then combine walking and running for high intensity interval training. The combination of walking for a few minutes and then running for a few minutes helps burn calories quicker and for longer.
7. Spend quality time with friends and family
What better way to pamper yourself than to spend time with the people you love. It’s easy to get caught up in our daily lives and put off social time.
Build quality time with friends and family into your weekly routine so that these interactions can keep you grounded, motivated, and supported through different seasons in life.
What’s great about this option is that you don’t have to spend anything to enjoy this. Here are some ideas:
- If you have kids then plan a play-date at your home. The kids can play while you relax with friends, chat, and encourage each other.
- Volunteer your time with friends and family during special occasions or make it a regular routine to get involved in your community.
- Host a monthly movie night. Head to your local library to pick up movies, you’ll be surprised by the range of options they have.
- Head to community events together. I recently attended a parent conference hosted by the school board in my region. I went with a friend which gave us a chance to catch up and spend time together while learning about the curriculum our kids are exposed to.
Mix up the options every once in a while to give yourself something to look forward to. Ask your friends and family for feedback and come up with new ideas. Get adventurous and try new things!
8. Binge watch your favourite TV shows
If you prefer more quiet, low-key activities, then pick one night a week to binge watch your TV shows. Personally, I’m pretty busy during the week so I PVR everything. By Friday night I’m ready to wind down with a large cup tea (or a tall glass of wine…depending on the week) and catch up.
It’s mostly mindless TV but I’ve found that it helps take my mind off of current stressors and relaxes me.
Too much sitting and watching TV probably isn’t a good thing so be intentional with how you go about doing this. If watching TV feels like a luxury because you’ve got so much on the go then set a date with yourself and stick to it. This can be once a week or whatever works best for you.
If you want to moderate how much TV you’re watching you can do the same thing. Give yourself a set amount of time in front of the screen but enough that you get the benefits of putting your feet up for a while.
9. Do your hair and makeup
Doesn’t it feel good to get dressed up and get your hair and makeup done? You’re probably out there walking a little taller because you KNOW you look good! You feel powerful, in control of your destiny, and confident, right?
Why not recreate this feeling more often and pamper yourself with a glam session?
It’s great to get dressed up for events but there’s no need to wait to get dolled up. Heading to the mall? Your kids soccer game? Around the corner to get gas? Put on some makeup, throw on your favourite pair of jeans (you know the ones. They make you feel like Beyonce slow walking down a runway), or a cute dress and get out there.
The point here is to have a little fun and feel confident in your own skin and improve your mood.
Get started and pamper yourself
There you have it, nine ways to pamper yourself for free. Here they are again:
- Expand your mind by reading
- Practice sleeping better
- Find time to meditate or pray
- Find time to workout at home
- Start tracking experiences with a gratitude journal
- Get in shape by finding time to walk or run
- Spend quality time with friends and family
- Binge watch your favourite TV shows
- Do your hair and makeup
Find some time to try each one. Take note of how they make you feel and if a handful stand out to you, then focus on making these a priority in your life. Good luck!