We all know how important it is to look after ourselves, but this can sometimes be easier said than done. In this article, Laura Marcus shares her practical self-care tips that can help you relax and unwind – without breaking the bank.
What is self-care?
We all need to take care of ourselves. This can mean simply making sure we eat a healthy diet and take regular exercise if we’re able to, or it could involve going on a programme of self-improvement.
Taking care of ourselves means that we are being proactive in our approach to our wellbeing. And if you’re being looked after by a carer, your self-care practices can help them too. By taking some time to look after yourself, you’ll find it easier to express your needs to your carer.
Looking after your emotional wellbeing
Our mental health and wellbeing can be tied to our ability to look after ourselves, as much as we can. Self-care puts us in the driving seat and gives us a sense of agency over our lives. Even if we can only take small steps to improve our lives, it can be immensely beneficial to our overall health. Some self-care practices can also improve your physical health, which boosts your emotional wellbeing too.
Remember: self-care is not selfish
It’s important not to think of self-care as being selfish. Everyone needs to check in with themselves from time to time, and doing this will help you in the long run.
If you are a Scheme customer, you may think that your vehicle or product is just there to help you with your everyday tasks, such as shopping or going to appointments. But you can also use it to go out and meet people, visit new accessible places and generally give yourself a break when you need one.
It doesn’t need to be expensive
Self-care doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. In fact, it needn’t cost anything at all. You don’t have to break the bank to take good care of yourself.
Here are some suggestions for budget-friendly ways for self-care to improve your health and wellbeing.
10 affordable self-care ideas
This may sound obvious, but it’s the easiest way to make sure that you’re looking after yourself every day – try to get a decent night’s sleep. You can follow a few simple tips to help you get better quality rest if you’re someone who struggles to fall asleep.
You may have heard of ‘sleep hygiene’ – this doesn’t mean ensuring you always have clean sheets every night! It means going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Get into a routine that works for you, and try to stick to it if you can. You might also want to try leaving a gap of at least two hours between your evening meal and going to bed.
Learn something new
Learn a new language, watch a documentary or discover some local history. There’s no shortage of cheap or even free online courses, so you should be able to find something that takes your fancy.
Learning about a new topic or picking up a new skill can be very absorbing, helping you to focus on something new and take your mind off any cares or worries. Some courses even offer interaction with other students, which can be very enjoyable and adds socialising to your learning.
It doesn’t have to mean sitting in silence for hours at a time. Meditation can just be switching off for five or ten minutes at various times during the day, to help you destress when things get a bit too much.
If you struggle with it at first, that’s okay – it takes practice to learn how to switch off the world around you. Although there are books and courses that can help you with specific techniques, you can also find lots of information online. Search for ‘mindfulness’ or ‘meditation tips’ and try to give some of the techniques a go. Once you’ve mastered it, meditation is free, and you can practice it anywhere at any time.
Take some kind of exercise
If you’re a wheelchair user or have mobility issues, you might want to ask your doctor or health professional about which movements you can do safely as exercise. For most people, getting your heartbeat up a bit can be beneficial, but this doesn’t have to be anything intense. if you haven’t done any exercise for a while, you should check with your doctor first.
Enjoy your food
Eating is essential, but it can also be immensely pleasurable. Take time over it when you can, as this can help you appreciate it more. Some people like to plan their meals, so that they can look forward to them. Even if you don’t like to plan every meal, you should still make sure you have regular food treats to pep you up every now and then.
Join a support group
Joining with others can be a great way to boost your confidence and look after yourself. This can be in-person (perhaps at a local community group) or even online. Try looking for groups that are specific to your disability, your local area, or some of your main interests – doing this can help you to find some like-minded people and build more connections.
Engage your senses
One thing that can help when you’re feeling stressed is to focus on physical sensations, or even things like nice scents. Essential oils or candles might be a good gift idea if you’ve got a birthday coming up, as they are great at helping you relax and you will be able to enjoy them for a long time.
Another thing that can engage your senses is going out into nature. This can involve a particular activity such as gardening or taking a pet for a walk, but it doesn’t have to – the main thing is to enjoy the fresh air and the surrounding scenery. If you have a Motability Scheme vehicle, this can be a great help in getting to new parks or gardens, where you can switch off and take in nature.
Try audiobooks or podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to wind down, and many of them are available for free. There are shows that cover everything you might find interesting – the BBC Sounds app has a wide variety to choose from.
Audiobooks are also a very nice treat, as most people love being read to. They can be very soothing and help take our minds off things. Many people also find it easier to find time to listen to a book rather than to read a physical copy.
The novelty and sense of a treat can do wonders for mental wellbeing, and it doesn’t need to cost the earth. Even going for an occasional tea or coffee while out shopping can feel like a wonderful gift to yourself.
If you’re able to, arrange to meet friends in a coffee shop once a month or every couple of weeks. Having it set in the diary gives you something to look forward to, and we all need that.