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How to Practice Caregiver Self-Care on the Cheap for COVID-19 and Beyond

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We parents hear time and again that if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of our children. It’s been said so many times because it is true! Until recently, I thought self-care was too expensive, too exhausting, and too time-consuming. Before children, I had hobbies and engaged in self-care every day. After children, that dropped drastically.

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Once my children were diagnosed with their disabilities (autism and stroke), self-care dwindled to just about nothing. I could barely hold onto flossing, eating, and sleeping, let alone niceties such as massages and vacations. We don’t have much money, and I felt that time spent caring for myself was time stolen from my children. A discussion with my husband opened my eyes to the fact that there are many free and quick ways to practice caregiver self-care on the cheap, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some free and quick strategies we came up with.

Caregiver Self-Care on the Cheap at Home

There are many free things we can do, and we don’t even need to leave the house!

  • Soak in the bathtub
  • Listen to music
  • Safely sunbathing
  • Spend a night in with your partner or friends (once social distancing is no longer a thing)
  • Card games or board games
  • Yoga
  • Arts and crafts with found objects
  • Read a book
  • Dance
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Listen to free audiobooks from the library
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Watch old home movies
  • Have a movie marathon
  • Write a letter to an old friend
  • Have a paper airplane contest
  • Design a fake house
  • Make a time capsule
  • Paint your nails
  • Drink more water

Caregiver Self-Care on the Cheap Out of the House

There are other strategies we can do when we go out once social distancing is no longer a thing.

  • Take a drive in the car
  • Take a walk
  • Go to the library
  • Go to a free museum
  • Go on a picnic
  • Meditate outdoors
  • Window shop
  • Visit a farmer’s market
  • Start a found rock collection
  • Attend a free community class

Caregiver Self-Care Mindfulness Strategies

Of course, if time is a factor, there are plenty of things you can that only take a little bit of time but pack a huge punch.

  • Think about good past memories
  • Really taste your food
  • Take mindful walks
  • Do the dishes mindfully
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Doodle, paint, or color
  • Give self-affirmations
  • Daydream
  • Write in your journal
  • Spend a few minutes outside
  • Take short breaks at work
  • Blow bubbles
  • Gaze at the stars
  • Stretch
  • Practice mindful breathing
  • Practice progressive muscle relaxation
  • Try out creative visualization

Caregiver Self-Care Fun

Having fun can’t be overrated. Try these activities to lighten your mood.

  • Watch funny shows on YouTube
  • Having a fun text conversation with a friend
  • Sing
  • Cook or bake
  • Flip through a magazine
  • Take cool pictures on your phone
  • Put on creams and lotions
  • Give yourself a massage
  • Start a microgarden
  • Plan a (real or fake) future vacation
  • Read an interesting blog post

On those hardest days, when we are at our most exhausted, when we are completely broke, when we feel selfish taking care of ourselves, we no longer need to justify making time for ourselves. There are lots of quick ways to practice caregiver self-care on the cheap. Try one or two strategies a day and see what works for you. Any small steps you can take toward caring for yourself makes a world of difference. You are worth it!

This story originally appeared on Different Dream.

Getty image by Irina Bort.

Originally published: June 9, 2020
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