A Frugal Guide to Self-Care

Self-care isn’t selfish.

I had to remind myself of this recently, as Josh and I took a frugal weekend getaway. (Yay for free hotel points that can be redeemed in small towns nearby!)

Don’t get me wrong. I was thankful for a chance to get away. I don’t take it for granted.

Binge-watching cable TV (not exactly healthy, but self-limiting since we don’t have TV.)

Browsing antique shops, bookstores, and thrift stores.

Talking with my hubby for hours on end.

Laughing.

Crying.

Eating good food.

It’s hard to get away without pangs of guilt. But it is so important.

I’ve written before about how I don’t often treat myself…at least not in the traditional ways.

But today I’m talking about the flip side of that coin.

Self-care isn’t selfish.

And it doesn’t have to be expensive. (No two-hour Swedish massages on my list!)

It’s only when we’re filled that we can overflow into others.

As frugal as we are, I’m glad Josh understands this. (Though I couldn’t help but think he was judging my mindless TV choices.)

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Cait Flanders recently said it in a beautiful post on the matter: Don’t treat yourself. Take care of yourself.

Yes, I believe it’s important to take care of yourself in order to take care of others well. Good news! You don’t have to get drunk, eat junk, or spend a lot of money to take care of yourself.

Binging isn’t the answer. Slow, steady, ongoing self-care is.

It’s as simple as listening to your body if there’s something that needs attention.

Taking those breaks when you need them.

Remembering to relax and make time to reflect…or turn your mind off for a short time.

I believe that as a Christian I’m called to serve others, but if I’m not taking care of myself physically emotionally, and spiritually, I won’t be as effective. 

Beware of Self-Harm Disguised as Self-Care

Be wary that sometimes what we think is self-care is really self-harm in disguise.

Junk food, drug abuse, binge drinking, and retail therapy are all things that make us feel good temporarily, but are actually hurting us.

Giving in to these kinds of cravings will feed the addiction and make it harder to break the cycle. Not only are these “treats” highly addictive, they can be very expensive and waste valuable resources that could be used to help others.

Establish Boundaries

One of the first steps of self care is absolutely free. That is putting healthy boundaries in place. Watch that your schedule isn’t overbooked (and only you know how much you’re able to take on without depleting yourself.) 

I’m a go, go, go type of person, but I’ve learned what types of activities stress me out. I say no to stressful obligations and yes to almost all enriching activities and acts of service that align with my family mission statement. For me, there is a rhythm and a balance of activities and downtime that is beneficial to my personality and drive. We all have a balance if we pay attention.

Learn how to say no to things that are just “busy things” and not in line with your personal mission statement. (Let’s review: our mission statement is Simplicity. Generosity. Hospitality. Community.)

Learn how to reschedule if one week is just too full but the next week is blank. Establish patterns and breaks. If one weekend is especially busy, do your best to go easy the next weekend.

Like I said, everyone’s balance will look different. I thrive when there’s people around. I give myself breaks and family time, but I also allow several people to enter into my raw, unfiltered life. These friends don’t deplete me – they fill me up. And they know that they are always welcome.

On the other hand, sometimes there are people in our lives that deplete us more than we would like. I’m sure we all have these people. It doesn’t mean we can never be around them, it just means we have to establish boundaries when we’re with them. A good counselor can help you establish formal boundaries if you need to in order to maintain a relationship with these people. 

Boundaries don’t make you a bad Christian or a greedy person. They make you a healthy person who is able to serve others out of your abundance. 

Be a Giver as Well as a Taker

One of my best friends taught me a simple but revolutionary trick this year. Her and her husband give each other frequent breaks to be alone. Not all quality time has to be spent together. Even extroverts need their alone time, away from the noise and expectations of young children. It isn’t selfish to ask for this from your spouse…but be willing to give them breaks too – and not just when you feel like it, but when they need it.

If you’re married check in with your spouse often to see what their needs are and if they need a break to re-charge. Josh loves quiet time to read and write. He is usually pretty flexible at fitting it in between my breaks and between the hustle and bustle of life, but we’ll often ask each other what our desires and plans are for our nights off and our weekends. I value our time together as a couple very much, but one of the best things Josh gives me in my marriage is the freedom to take a much-needed break.

I’m grateful for a hubby who watches the kids so I can run solo for hours on the weekends and meet new goals and distances…and just breathe and listen to the silence.

Sometimes love is romantic and other times love is acts of service.

Sometimes love is being together and other times it’s giving space.

He loves me enough to let me go.

Frugal Self-Care Ideas

This is the fun part. Coming up with frugal, enriching ideas for self-care that aren’t addictive or damaging. I can personally vouch for everything on this list! 

  1. A walk with a friend.
  2. A phone call or Skype with someone you miss.
  3. A run through nature.
  4. Alone time in the park.
  5. A hot bath.
  6. Tea on the couch.
  7. A bike ride through the neighborhood.
  8. Working on a craft.
  9. Watching the clouds.
  10. Hiking somewhere new.
  11. Letting yourself unplug – it’s okay to be unreachable sometimes.
  12. Journaling.
  13. Listening to a favorite album with good headphones.
  14. Reading a book.
  15. Browsing at the library.
  16. Laying in the sun in a kiddie pool.
  17. Playing an instrument or singing.
  18. Dancing.
  19. Praying.
  20. Cuddling.
  21. Writing a song or poem. 
  22. Taking a nap.
  23. Watching a movie (but if this is your go-to every night, get more creative.)
  24. Lighting a candle or diffusing essential oils.
  25. Going for a photo walk with a real camera.
  26. Giving yourself a foot massage.
  27. Looking out the window at night.
  28. Letting yourself be unproductive.
  29. Coloring.
  30. Eating well. A colorful smoothie in the afternoon or a big homemade salad at lunch.
  31. Lifting weights and taking a cold shower.
  32. Learning a new skill or hobby.
  33. Taking the scenic route.
  34. Listening to a lighthearted podcast.
  35. Allowing yourself a beer or glass of wine (again, if this is a daily thing I’d encourage you to branch out.)

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Self-care is important. Some of us need more than others, and it looks different for all of us.

Here’s to setting boundaries and rhythms in place.

Here’s to asking for the breaks that we need.

Here’s to establishing healthy habits that won’t perpetually drain us.

Here’s to getting away sometimes.

Here’s to escaping so we can hit the ground running.

Here’s to being filled so we can overflow.  

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