When hard times fall upon you and you find yourself struggling to make ends meet, it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. It’s easy to feel like you are losing yourself when your surroundings feel like they are crumbling. But these are the times you need to take care of yourself the most. Things will fall into place, you must believe that. Don’t sacrifice caring for yourself and enjoying life.
When I found myself in the throes of my worst financial struggles, I was forced to come up with alternative ways to take care of myself and think outside of the wellness box. While I still had to spend here and there, spending a little versus a lot still made a difference. I’m also very fortunate to have had the help I did, from the people that I did. I also told myself to think more preventative, rather than just treatment or solutions, and that I could still treat myself to things without breaking the bank. I also told myself that just because I didn’t have that extra to splurge on a spa or luxurious services, it did not mean I didn’t deserve to be pampered or feel those things – as do you… you deserve it! You just need to be creative and open. And if you’re unsure of where to begin with that, then I’m here to help!
Here are some of my favorite mind-body-spirit wellness tips on a budget. Keep in mind that my definition of wellness here is very loose and all-encompassing. I use wellness as a term to describe anything that makes you feel whole, good and healthy. Anything from eating right, to shopping, to meditating, to lounging. Anyway, here’s the list and if you have additional suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
1. Go For Walks – Don’t break the bank for the gym membership if you really can’t afford to do so. You’ll get just as much of a workout by going for a walk or run in your neighborhood or local park. Being out in nature will also lift your spirits and give you something to look forward to each day. Or…
2. YouTube Yoga or Work Out Videos – Follow the pros and have your own personal trainer in the comfort of your own home. Hook your computer up to the big screen and make it feel like you’re in an actual class at the gym.
3. Trade Massages With A Spouse – Who says you have to sacrifice a massage? It may not be “spa quality,” and an hour long (or maybe it is, depending on your partner!). But it still has its benefits. It’s relaxing and enough to loosen up tense muscles and shoulders. Take turns with one another and come up with a plan, i.e. 15 minute massage for me on Monday, 15 minute massage for you on Wednesday, etc.
4. Create Your Own At Home Spa – Buy a few candles, crystals, update your music playlist to include some relaxing spa music, throw a bath robe and fluffy towel into the dryer and take a warm bubble bath by candlelight. Throw a bath bomb or some salts or essential oils in there. Bring your book, a glass of wine or tea with you and just be. Leave your phone outside of the room or on silent to really set the mood. Follow it up with…
5. At Home Facials – I already had everything on hand as far as face products. If you don’t have these kind of products on hand, you can always buy a little at a time, or make your own products using things like sugars, honey, essential oils, etc. When you invest in the products yourself you get weeks of your own at home facials at next to nothing compared to spending hundreds on going to the spa and having them done there. My favorite way to do facials are – cleanse with a cleanser first, exfoliate, steam (you can use a facial steamer, or turn the hot water on the faucet, lean over it, and drape a towel over yourself trapping the steam in), facial mask and cucumber slices, toner, eye cream, and finish it off with a face cream. You’ll love this self-care ritual.
6. Do Your Own Nails – Save that trip to the nail salon every week… it adds up. Pick out a few nice nail polish colors at the drug store and a few good nail tools and do your own nails, or have a friend over for wine and trade nail services (if you feel you really aren’t great at it). Just make sure you do the nails first before you start enjoying the wine!
7. Dine In – It can be much cheaper to eat in rather than take out. You can save money each week by planning your meals out for the week ahead, making your shopping list, and buying what you need instead of things that you don’t. Incorporate more seasonal produce and you’ll save even more. Have date nights in and work them around meatless dishes. Be creative.
8. Have Your Own Wellness Retreat – Just because you can’t afford to go away on a lavish vacation, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve time off. Take off for 3-4 days time and do something each day. One day do something for your mental health, the next day do something for your physical health, the third, something for your spiritual health, and the following your emotional health. You don’t need to limit yourself to 4 days and can take however long you need. The point is that a stay-cation exploring what’s in your own yard is just as effective and rejuvenating as adventuring across the sea. It is what you make it.
9. Save A Trip To The Chiropractor (Or Whoever) – I was fortunate enough to meet and be treated by an excellent massage therapist in my travels who gave me this tip because I had horrible neck pain – sleep with a pillow under your legs so they are slightly elevated (if you’re a back sleeper), or in between your legs (if you’re a side sleeper). And use one pillow for your head so your neck is not crooked up so high. You can also alternate this as you’re sleeping if you do both. So simple, yet overlooked. She has saved me! I feel the need to pass that on to you.
10. Save A Trip To The Doctor – Feel a cold coming on? Break out the ginger and the white part of scallions and boil them in water and sip on the tea. This is an ancient Chinese Medicine that is used to treat external wind cold invasion (common cold). No use in wasting the time and the energy on going to the doctor for something so simple. Nip it in the bud before it gets worse. If your cold is accompanied by a sore throat, sip on mint tea. Don’t forget to wear your scarf during the change of weather/season. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the back of the neck is one of the areas where the pathogen enters. Keep it covered and you have less of a chance of catching a cold or getting sick. Also, wear socks on your feet and don’t walk barefoot on cold surfaces.
11. Save A Trip To The Dentist – You should definitely be going for your cleaning twice a year, but prevent extra trips to the dentist by doing as they say and flossing regularly and using mouthwash. Seriously! A bag of floss picks, Thieves Mouthwash, and investing in an inexpensive power toothbrush and you are good to go. Do this twice a day and you’ll have no reason to go there other than for your routine cleanings.
12. Diversify Your Food Shopping – You do not need to buy everything organic. Decide which food items should be purchased organic and which shouldn’t. Which markets offer cheaper organic produce and which offer cheaper non-organic produce? To better gauge what you should or shouldn’t buy organic – if you consume its peel or skin, you are better off purchasing it organic. If it’s something you peel off, then it’s ok to purchase non-organic. Check for quality and for sales.
13. Make a cleaning checklist – This one is more or less about budgeting your time, but still worth a mention. Keep your home and mental health in order by getting organized and keeping things clean to keep dust and mites at bay. When your surroundings are healthy you are more likely to feel healthy also. You can also save yourself from becoming sick with allergies or other issues related to build up of dirt and dust. Don’t forget to open up your windows and let the fresh air in. It really helps to clear things out – including energy.
14. Meditate At Home – Group meditations are fun and not all of them necessarily break the bank, but if you find yourself scraping for every single penny at this time, then consider just doing them yourself at home. Plus, you are given the opportunity to get in touch with yourself even more. Create a little nook or corner of your home especially for this purpose and make it your own. See my blog Rituals, Altars and Sacred Spaces for some ideas on that. There are numerous sources on iTunes or YouTube that offer guided imagery, meditation tracks, chanting or any other guided or musical meditations of your preference. You don’t have to sacrifice quiet time and you can do it for however long you choose, and whenever you choose. And it’s all free from the comfort of your home.
15. Buy One Accessory Or Clothing Item A Week – You do not need to go on a complete shopping spree all at once to have a brand new wardrobe. I remember feeling particularly sorry for myself because I had so many clothing items that I’d been wearing for years and hadn’t been able to buy anything new. I told myself that I would try to at least buy myself one thing a week or every few weeks if I could. When you do it that way instead, it’s less daunting and you’ll see that you’ll start to build up a new wardrobe as time goes on. Donate anything old that you no longer use or wear as you go. Maintain self-control and tell yourself as you go into the store that you only have “x” amount of dollars and enough for one top, or one pair of shoes and only look for that one item. That means, don’t head over to the other section that has bags, or pants or etc. – save that for another time. Set yourself that dollar limit.
16. BYOB – Bring your own beverage – as in coffee or tea. The Starbucks every day adds up. If you must have your barista made java, then at least limit yourself to one day a week as a treat yourself/reward day such as Friday. Then it’s more like something to look forward to. Invest in a cute mug or thermos, a coffee pot or tea kettle and bring your own. In the end you will save more money. And there’s something so much more feel-good about using a cute mug to start your day.
17. Opt For Incense – I love essential oils. I really do. But during “the struggle” I couldn’t afford to buy some of the ones I wanted. So in those times I reached for incense. While not quite as clean as diffusing oils, I personally love the woodsy and earthy aroma of burning incense. If you’re still looking for that ambiance then give it a shot. Plus, you can get a gazillion for a few bucks… you’ll be set for awhile.
18. Go For Check-Ups – I stress this a lot because I am a firm believer in it. Check with your insurance company on what your health plan covers as far as screenings and routine exams and then… SCHEDULE THEM! Preventative care is the best care. Save yourself money spent down the line by going for those check-ups and learning how to better care for yourself if necessary. You may learn even more tips and tricks as you go.
19. Make Your Own Cleaning Products – If you’re all about the go green and sustainable living – as most of us are these days – but don’t have the money to splurge on the products that are better for your home, consider making your own using ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, castile soap, and essential oils. With few ingredients and a little elbow grease you can get the job done with spending less.
20. Use Teas and Herbs – If you just can’t splurge on expensive herbal vitamins and supplements right now, then at least incorporate them into your daily food intake. For example, you’ve heard that turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory. Turmeric pills are also very expensive. Research interesting recipes you can make and incorporate more turmeric powder or fresh turmeric into your diet instead. This is only one example. If you know you’re lacking in a certain vitamin or mineral, look up herbs or teas rich in those vitamins or minerals. Please note that in this case food items can also be considered herbs for health.
21. Grow Your Own Veggies And Herbs – Grow what you can and what thrives in your climate and you’ll save even more on your grocery bill. If you’re concerned about space or not having enough, consider container gardening. Not having to buy herbs at the store was a big savior during the season and saved so much for my household. If you have a big enough space and more crop than you can consumer, consider selling them for a small fee to your local community.