The Mighty Logo

12 Realistic and Affordable Self-Care Tips to Improve Your Mental Health

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

What comes to mind when you think of self-care? Is it treating yourself? A soft, fluffy robe, bubble baths, maybe some champagne or a massage? That’s what I think about, too.

A quick search online, whether it’s a social media hashtag or an article online, will show you a plethora of ideas, but if you’re a fresh grad like me, not all of them are feasible. Forget a weekend getaway; even getting a fresh bouquet of flowers would be a splurge that would put a dent into my budget. But being an adult is hard and I think that’s where the love of self-care comes in — to tie us over for a little bit.

But here’s the issue: all those things, the small little treats along the way — they add up. And if you’re like me (a Torontonian, a fresh grad, a millennial), breaking the bank is just going to add more stress. Don’t get me wrong – I love all of that. Fresh flowers, a great meal, a glass of my favorite champagne. But I guess being an adult means knowing you can’t have that all the time. Part of it is that we’ve romanticized the idea of self-care and self-compassion. It’s not always grand romantic gestures, from others or just yourself. It’s not always the most exciting or Instagrammable. Sometimes, self-care just needs to be simple and sometimes it’s boring. And sometimes, we can find a happy medium. So that’s what I’ve done. Here is a list of 12 realistic (and affordable!) self-care tips to try. I promise these won’t break the bank!

1. Take your medication and do your homework.

It’s not exciting but it will make you feel loads better. Take your prescribed medication when you’re supposed to take it. Drink water. Let it help you. If you have a therapist who’s given you some tasks to work on (my therapist calls it “homework”), do it! Whether it’s journaling or breathing exercises, trust that it’s a process and the process works.

2. Make some tea.

If it’s before bed, try going for decaf. It’s warm and soothing but less acidic than coffee. I also find that when I’m over-caffeinated, it makes me jittery and anxious – but that’s something that doesn’t happen with tea.

3. Get a new toothbrush.

You should be switching out your toothbrush every few months anyways, so what better way to feel fresh! Maybe even a new tube of toothpaste to go along with the new toothbrush!

4. Gratitude journal.

“If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.” Even if you don’t feel like it, or if you haven’t done it before, this is a great way to start. Try listing out three things you’re grateful for. Watch how this simple exercise will help you focus on what you already have, leading to more positive thoughts.

5. Make your favorite smoothie.

Smoothies are a great source of nutrition and when you make them at home, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Make sure you’re getting all of your greens by making a green smoothie. My favorite recipe is: bananas, spinach, kale, cucumber, coconut water and yogurt. If you want it a little sweeter, try adding in pear or apple.

6. Watching a good movie. 

Watching a film doesn’t always mean heading to the theater – snacks and ticket prices add up, and the hustle and bustle of people in the theater isn’t always the most calming environment. Make some healthy popcorn (kernels on the stove + a little salt!) at home, turn on Netflix and enjoy some time alone.

7. Taking your vitamins.

Daily routine can sometimes feel like a chore – but it’s better to get these out of your way so you don’t have these small things nagging in the back of your mind.

8. Clean your closet.

Or even a portion of it. Or even just your washroom. It’s extremely liberating to get rid of things you don’t need, to not feel bogged down by things. Don’t just throw things out – sell or donate the things you don’t want; one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and it will help reduce your footprint on the planet!

9. Dance.

Get moving! You might not always feel like going for a run or heading to the gym, so put on your favorite jam and dance to your heart’s desire. Whether it’s alone in your bedroom or with your friends, dance like no one is watching!

10. Put your towel in the dryer before you shower.

Taking a hot bath or shower does wonders, but do you know what’s better than that? Coming out of a bath to a nice warm, fluffy towel. Wrap yourself up in it and just take a moment for yourself.

11. Be a tourist in your own city.

While big cities are known to be concrete jungles, I guarantee there are parks and alleyways filled with beautiful street art — you just have to look for it. Go enjoy nature, get some fresh air and have a little adventure without needing to jet set around the world!

12. Get cultured.

Last but definitely not least, go enjoy the arts. Nothing feeds the soul like the fine arts, and they’re not as expensive as you’d think. Most galleries have free or reduced-rate days/nights. The opera and ballet are also not out of reach — companies are always trying to fill their seats. Whether it’s “young adult pricing” or rush tickets, there are so many options for you to enjoy the fine arts without burning a hole in your wallet!

Living in a big city or on a budget doesn’t mean self-care isn’t doable. Remember: your health always comes first, and that includes mental health.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via pecaphoto77

Originally published: June 22, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home