It’s not hard to think up great ways to treat yourself. We’d all love a spa day topped off with a meal prepared and served by someone else. Maybe a sitter for the night, so the little angels are asleep when we get home. Or just a morning where the cat doesn't wake you up by sitting on your windpipe.
But for every article I see about self care, I roll my eyes at least 12 times because many of those "treats" are expensive and don't fit into a normal family budget. And sure, I would love to have an afternoon to myself and a bucket of fried chicken, and a cookie dough chaser. But that's not particularly healthy.
So I'm a fan of realistic self care. That is, activities that aren't expensive, and will make you feel good about how you spent that time, without the guilt-hangover. Here's a list of my favorites:
Meditate, the easy way
If you're the kind of person who can't sleep during the day, napping can be more work than it's worth. But guided meditation is a whole other story. It gives your mind something (easy) to do so the rest of you can relax a bit. There are plenty of free guided meditations online or use one of the many app's available such as Insight Timer or Headspace.
UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center website. http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22
Walking lunch (The opposite of a working lunch)
Okay, so this one involves food... Pack a little bag with a snack and a drink and go for a walk. Doesn't need to be far, doesn't need to be fancy. Just get outside, find a rock or a tree stump or a bench, settle in and sip your beverage. Listen to the quiet, or bird-watch. You'll be amazed how much better you feel about yourself and the new perspective you will have returning to your workplace.
Read a Book
When was the last time you read for pleasure? I love to find new books that interest me. Ask your friends on Facebook for some recommendations. Don't want to spend money on books? There are plenty of Free ebooks on Amazon http://ow.ly/T6FV302tFeI, and the Bullitt County libraries are free and awesome! Or reread some of your favorite books from childhood if you have them hanging around. If you don't have the time to read with your eyes, try an app like Audible or rent some books on cd from the library to listen to!
If you choose the topic right, learning is great self-care. Pick a topic for FUN. Don't feel like you need to learn something pertinent to your work or a current hobby. I'm in love with the online academy Udemy. You can literally learn anything there. The Louisville area has plenty of local options for learning as well. Rainbow Blossom Markets host classes for Cooking, Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation and other healing topics regularly. LevelUp Louisville is a group of local experts who offer classes on a wide range of topics from home beer brewing to hand lettering, to flower crown making and needlepoint!
Bust out a piece for paper and draw something. Even if you don't have fancy pencils or crayons or markers, you can play with shading and pressure and make something cool. I personally love the meditation coloring books. Raid your kids colored pencil box and get lost filling that space between the lines. When you're coloring or drawing, it's really hard for your brain to wander off into "adulting". There are plenty of free coloring pages available at http://www.coloring-pages-adults.com/ you can download and print out.
Write a Letter (this one will cost you the price of a stamp)
Remember letters? On real paper? It's becoming a lost art, which is kinda sad. It used to be so exciting to get a real letter in the mail, or in your locker. Not a bill, not an advertisement, but a real letter, with news, from someone you love. It was downright magical.
If you feel totally lost and don't know where to start, here's a site to help you out. http://www.nhcs.net/parsley/curriculum/postal/friendlyletter.html
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. There are plenty of free apps to help you learn geocaching and get started. My favorite is Geocaching.com. https://www.geocaching.com/guide/
For nearly every song out there, there's a karaoke accompaniment on YouTube. For reals. https://www.youtube.com/user/TheKARAOKEChannel Crank it up and let ‘er rip. You’re a stress-free superstar now. :)
Play a Game of Cards
Or Dice, or Dominos, or your favorite childhood board game. Get a kid and play Uno, or find an old deck of real cards and fall into a game of solitaire. Visit with a friend or relative and pop open a game of 10,000 (my fave).
You can go nuts and find a whole bunch of fancy recipes on the internet, or just throw some salt into big bowl of warm water. Put a foot in there. Scrub it a bit with a washcloth. It feels good, the warmth is calming (or use cool water if it's a zillion degrees where you're at), and your feet will be all soft and good-smelling when you take ‘em out.
Got a teabag? Throw it in. Got an essential oil you like? A couple drops'll do. Easy-peasy!
When you're ready, dry that foot off and slather with some lotion. Or coconut oil. Or olive oil. Whatever you have is just fine. (Put some socks on to really make it last, and so you don't slip, ok?)
And when all else fails: Nap
Put your jammies on and take a nap. In your bed. Not all crammed up on the couch with the TV on. Close the shades in your bedroom and hunker down for a proper sleep sesh.
There. You don’t have to spend money or fill your belly to feel great and treat yourself well!