Inexpensive Self-Care Ideas
Written by: Shaowda Salehin
You know what the best thing about getting older is? You realize that you’re going to be spending the rest of your time with yourself, so you need to invest in yourself and make yourself happy. This investment process does not have to break your bank, especially when you’re a university student trying to balance work and studying at the same time. So these are a few of the cheapest and quickest pick me ups that you can be free of feeling guilt for.
Sometimes you need to walk by yourself, no significant others, no friends or parents or pets - just you in nature. Exercise helps clear your mind and releases chemicals in your body that increases your happiness - walk slowly and smell the roses while you’re at it! I usually listen to music and curate my playlists specifically for my walk. Take long routes and different paths around your neighbourhood or campus. When I go for morning runs, I usually spend the last half hour just walking so that I can cool down and think through my tasks and to-do lists for the day.
When university was still in person, taking a break always felt like I was cheating or avoiding studying, but efficient breaks are actually crucial to your overall health and it increases our ability to concentrate. Studying for a “long” period of time is not nearly as efficient as studying for short 30 minute spurts so that you don’t overwork yourself. Make sure that you’re making your favourite cup of coffee or going out for Tims or Starbucks because that’s a break you deserve! If you’re looking for something to do while on your break, pick up a book and start reading instead of scrolling through Tik Tok or Instagram. Social media is a great way to accumulate revenue if you’re an influencer, but otherwise, these apps can sometimes be more triggering than relaxing. Taking a break should be guilt-free and you should be able to enjoy your moment of calm amidst the constant chaos of the world right now.
Hangout With Your Friends:
Facetime your friends, especially since we can’t exactly see each other the way we used to. I like to keep in contact by sending a meme or post and talking about it briefly on the phone. A good laugh is the best medicine I know, especially when the lockdown loneliness gets overwhelming. My friends and I have one day of the month where we order each other our favourite foods, so we’re all feeling loved and taken care of. Try new take out places and see which one you prefer or buy the newest Oreo flavour cookie and put your taste buds to the test. There’s a variety of ways of hanging out online now, gaming is also a great way to keep in touch! Human contact helps us stay in touch with our reality and keeps us motivated. If I don’t talk to my friends often or express my feelings then I start to live in my own head too much. To keep your thoughts positive, ask your friends for advice and they’ll help you see the good in everything!
Aromatherapy is as essential to me as food and water, seriously cannot live without a good candle on my nightstand. I don’t even light my candles every day, their faint scent stays in my room since I always keep their lids off. Investing in quality smelling candles can uplift your spirits in no time, especially if you match the seasons - spring time is best for floral and fresh lemony scents! There are several candles that have calming scents to them like Lavender, Mint, Eucalyptus and Oat, so you have a variety to choose from when it comes to picking the perfect scent for your room. I also like the Wallflower plug-in scents from Bath and Body Works, which are diffusing oils but they tend to be a lot stronger and their refills can be a little expensive. But nonetheless, they last for a long time and the refills are not nearly as expensive as a Yankee Candle so it’s a win-win!
Yoga can help control your exam anxieties, reduce stress and improve your overall daily mood! There is no reason that you shouldn’t try yoga because it is such a powerful and effective form of exercise where you feel better instantly. Even if the stretches and poses are sometimes difficult and more strenuous than your go-to cardio workout, it’s worth the serotonin boost. I know that I can barely squeeze in a 15-minute workout at the end of my study days before exams because anytime I take a break, my body immediately wants to rest or lay down. So instead of going down to the basement gym, I just lay on my carpet so my body thinks it's resting but really I am doing a yoga pose! Sometimes it also helps restore my appetite since I usually get very nervous before exams and papers and start eating poorly - my exam diet consists of a gazillion cups of coffee or anything with caffeine and sugary treats. Buy your yoga mat on Amazon for less than 12 bucks and experience the power of mindfulness through the benefits of exercise.
Every time I perform horribly on an exam or feel that I was unable to do my best due to other life reasons, I buy myself a new top from Zara or get ice cream with my brother. Weird psychology to reward bad grades, but I have realized that this helps me keep my outlook positive and perform much better on the upcoming test. See sometimes in University, you have to pick and choose your battles, so when I have two exams on one day, I tend to perform great on one and absolutely below 50% on the other - necessary and clever sacrifices have to be made to achieve optimal academic success! I’ve learned that even failing an exam has an art and finesse to it, since you have to choose which one you want to fail - fail the one you have a better chance of bouncing back from! No matter your performance, you did your best and those mistakes had to be made so there’s no reason to sulk or deprive yourself- you are still worth all the good things in life even when something good didn’t happen!
There are so many great ways to appreciate yourself every day. The beauty of taking care of yourself shows on the outside and keeps you glowing like a cool April day’s sunset! I am rooting for you!