I saw a Facebook post recently encouraging friends to post a photo in the comments in which they were truly happy. Happiness is found in different ways for different individuals, but part of being truly, consistently happy is practicing self care. For years I underestimated the importance of it. But if you want to be a successful wife, husband, student, small business owner, daughter etc., you need to make time for it. Taking care of yourself is not spoiling yourself. It is not living in excess or gluttony. Don’t feel guilty, because there’s nothing wrong with it. So your bank account isn’t big? Don’t worry, you don’t need one. Today we’re sharing 5 science-backed frugal ways to practice self care!
During school I never consciously set aside time or resources for self care. Which lead me to burning out about every three weeks and eventually created a lot of anxiety.
My experience with self care kind of reminds me of the the Greek Myth of Icarus and Daedalus. For years I read this story in my book of fairy tales growing up. I loved to admire the illustrations. While the lesson here is more about not letting pride get the best of you, I think it’s also one regarding balance. In the end of the story Icarus ends up disappearing into the sea because he flew too close to the sun for the too long. This melted the glue holding the feathers on his wings together.
Even in describing my blogging habits (up until last fall) I would describe them as “I just burn too hot too quick”. Which essentially meant creating content like a mad woman for a week and a half. Then tucking my tail in and giving up. Because it was simply overwhelming. It wasn’t sustainable or realistic, which is why I’ve started and stopped so many times.
While not feeling like I had enough time was me falling victim to poor time management I also didn’t really believe in self care. I thought that self care resided under practices that cost a lot of money. In college you don’t have a lot of expendable income. As I’ve matured I’ve realized that it’s incredibly important to practice self care. One of Steven Covey’s habits in being a highly effective person is sharpening the saw after all. Self care is not selfish, but it is necessary if you choose to live a balanced life.
5 Frugal Science Backed Ways to Practice Self Care
1. Repeat/Write an Affirmation
You might think that repeating an affirmation seems silly. You’re not the only one. But regardless of your initial perception – they work.
An affirmation is a phrase you coin that capitalizes on thinking positive and is empowering. Trust me, google can find one for you no matter what the situation.
Another study that spent time researching positive affirmations to see if they could be valuable in practicality.
A group of students were introduced to self affirmations at the beginning of a semester. Students that utilized the affirmations had more of a boosted Grade Point Average and it even helped underperforming students succeed.
But why? This study they found that repeating a positive self affirmation can help you perform better under pressure. So whether it’s going to school or just managing the stress you deal with day to day affirmations can absolutely be helpful.
If you’r writing an affirmation daily, you’re repeating it daily and it’s posted up around the house there will eventually be results. Want some great fodder to start? Be sure to check out these ones!
2. Go for a Walk, Swim Or Dance A Little Bit
We’ve all heard about the importance of maintaining our physical fitness. For some people it’s a priority for aesthetic reasons, others are motivated by health. Regardless what boat you are in, exercising is good for your health. A study found that among the activities mentioned in the heading, jogging and aerobic exercise help reduce anxiety and depression. Why you may ask? The answer lies in two primary explanations: simple biology and benefits from exercising with others.
This particular study discusses the impact that increased blood flow can have to your brain – specifically near your hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Which is caused by – you guessed it – exercise! Essentially where they hypothalamus and pituitary gland join communicates with other areas in your brain. Three of these areas (amygdala, limbic system and hippocampus) can actually have a positive influence on your mood while controlling stress.
We also tend to forget about the fact that exercise is often social. Even if it isn’t social for you it can serve as a distraction to keep you from immediately stressing and even help you feel more confident about yourself and your abilities.
3. Keeping a Journal
You probably kept a journal at some point. I know I did. It was through middle school and is literally one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever written. It wasn’t because I had listed the names of crushes – it’s because I (as all of us once were) was incredibly immature. But it has been shown that continuing to keep a journal as an adult can have positive benefits.
In a study conducted at UCLA some participants wrote about experiences they felt neutrally about. Other participants wrote about experiences that they felt emotional about. A brain scan was done both before and after each participant took time to journal about their experiences. What was found is that participants who wrote about an emotional experience showed more activity in a particular part of their prefrontal cortex. This area will actually help relieve some of the neural response that is a result of strong emotions.
So in the real world if you have strong feelings about a situation, this can help you calm down. We all have days that are less than ideal. Writing about them helps not only increase self awareness, but also can help you feel less stressed.
4. Acknowledge Your Gratitude
One of the favorite videos I ever watched in college was this one in which Shawn Anchor shared his 21 Day gratitude method. You see, people are often grasping at happiness as if it resides in some other place. A new promotion, a new goal attained, etc. But while you are striving for something new, you should also be grateful for where you are at. This was especially helpful to me when I was overwhelmed at college. It truly is the little things that make life so wonderful to live. The 21 Day Gratitude Challenge has three different portions. To participate in the gratitude challenge daily you need to:
- List 3 Gratitudes In a Journal
- Journal about 1 Positive Experience Within The Past 24 Hours
- Do 1 Random Act of Kindness
- Exercise for 30 Minutes
If you’ve never meditated, don’t worry about it! You can find an all inclusive article for newbies here.
5. Make Your Health a Priority
There are little ways that we can make our health a priority each day that don’t cost a million dollars. They are just smarter decisions. Because little things add up to have a big impact.
For instance, did you know that your mood is affected by your gut? That’s right, serotonin (which affects your mood and sleep) is primarily produced in your digestive tract. If you take better care about what you’re putting into your body it will actually have a positive effect on your outlook. You can read more about this here.
What about sleep? It’s also incredibly important! Oftentimes when we sleep more adequately we fell refreshed. This helps us take in new information better the next day. If you’re not sleeping enough you’re at a higher risk to develop a whole host of health problems and diseases.
We all want to be healthier this year, so now you have some science-backed and frugal ways to practice self care!
Thanks for reading!