It’s not hard to think up great ways to treat yourself. We’d all love a spa day topped off with a meal prepared and served by someone else. Maybe get a sitter for the night, so the little angels are asleep when we get home. Or just a morning where the cat doesn't wake you up by sitting on your windpipe.
But for every article about self-care, I roll my eyes at least 12 times and think "Who can afford that?" Yes, it would be great to have an afternoon to myself and a bucket of fried chicken and a cookie dough chaser. But that's not particularly healthy.
I’m all about realistic self-care. That is, activities that aren't expensive, don't involve food, and will make you feel good about how you spent that time. Here's a list of my favorites (bonus: most of these you can do with kids).
Meditate, the easy way
If you're the kind of person who can't sleep during the day, napping can be more like torture. But guided meditation is a whole other story. It gives your mind something (easy) to do so the rest of you can relax a bit. There are plenty of free guided meditations online. Check out the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center website and the free version of the Headspace app, which has plenty of options to get you started.
Read a book
When was the last time you read for pleasure? Even if you can't get to your library, there are plenty of free ebooks on Amazon, and your local library may have a free online borrowing program. Or reread some of your favorite books from childhood if you have them hanging around.
If you choose the topic right, learning is great self-care. Pick a topic for FUN. Don't feel like you need to learn something pertinent to your work or a current hobby. Check out Coursera, MIT or Harvard to start. (But there are PLENTY of sources for free online classes, do your own searching, too!)
Bust out a piece for paper and draw something. Even if you don't have fancy pencils or crayons or markers, you can play with shading and pressure and make something cool. There are plenty of free coloring pages you can download and print out.
For nearly every song out there, there's a karaoke accompaniment channel on YouTube. For reals. Crank it up and let ‘er rip. You’re a stress-free superstar now.
And when all else fails: Nap
Put your jammies on and take a nap. In your bed. Not all jammed up on the couch with the TV on. Close the shades in your bedroom and hunker down for a proper sleep.
There. You don’t have to spend money or fill your belly to feel great and treat yourself well!