I’ll start by saying that I am still mastering the art of self-care. I can be a bit type-A and goal-oriented, so it’s hard for me to stop working. If you run your own business, you can probably relate.
But over the past couple of years, I have slowly incorporated more and more self-care routines into my personal life. And not only have I found more fulfillment, but I truly believe that my team and my business have also benefited greatly from this.
Self-care is critical for all of us in creative industries. We spend so many hours working our minds, and in many cases also our physical bodies, to make our clients happy.
For me, planning how I’ll exercise self care is just as important as business planning for the year ahead.
Many people take expensive spa trips or vacations as a form of self-care—I do, too, and I think it’s a great habit. However, self-care can also be much more affordable and happen much more frequently.
Read on for some of my favorite ideas of ways to care for yourself on a budget. All of these ideas are either free or cost less than $20, and many only take a few minutes to do.
Daily Self-Care Tips
Here are some cost-friendly self-care tips that can help any entrepreneur live a more balanced life.
While most of these tips shouldn’t be especially surprising, it makes a big difference to actually prioritize every one of these into your daily routine.
1. Keep a gratitude journal
The older I get, the more I learn that gratitude is the key to getting the most out of life. It sounds cliche, but the journey is just as important as the destination. It’s important to recognize what you’re grateful for on a daily basis to stay grounded.
However, being constantly bombarded by negative news and a busy workday makes it hard to focus on gratitude.
To balance all the negativity, I recently invested in a simple gratitude journal. I now spend 2-5 minutes with it at the start and end of each day. This has positively affected my mood, and it helps me to focus on what matters to me on a daily basis.
2. Read a book
And no, your inbox doesn’t count!
On a serious note, make it a point to read a book about something that interests you every day. I find that making time to learn about non-work things that I’m interested in makes me feel balanced.
Instead of scrolling on your phone for the hour before bed, pop open a book. Not only will you learn something, it will also help you fall asleep!
If you haven’t read in a while, it may feel like work at first, but once you get into a reading routine, you’ll look forward to that quiet reading time all day.
A cluttered home, workspace, or room makes it hard to think straight. Try to declutter at the end of each day so it never becomes a huge, daunting task.
This applies to your computer desktop too (or wherever you store your files). Taking 5 minutes every day to clean up your digital workstation will make it much easier to find what you’re looking for down the road.
4. Limit Your Screen Time
If you’re glued to your phone or computer all day while you work, it’s wise to take a break from your phone on your off hours.
Too much screen time has been linked to obesity, mental health issues, and insomnia.
The blue light from your screens tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daylight, which stops your body from entering its pre-sleep routine. By reducing your screen time (or by getting blue-light filter glasses), you can avoid losing any sleep because of your phone.
5. Prioritize Sleep
On that note, I can’t stress how important it is to get enough sleep—at least 7 hours.
While you may feel like you have to squeeze every last moment out of every day by working one extra hour or watching one more episode of your favorite show, your life will be so much more enjoyable if you’re well rested.
On top of that, it helps your immune system, improves your mood, and helps you perform better at work.
Even if you’re skeptical at first, try giving meditation a shot. It doesn’t cost anything to sit alone with your mind and body.
There’s immense value in spending a moment doing less ‘doing’ while simply connecting with yourself.
If you’re new to meditation, there are plenty of videos of YouTube, or you can try the free versions of apps like Headspace or Calm.
7. Get Active
Most of us spend a lot of time sitting at work. So you owe it to yourself to move around a little bit every day.
How you want to move is up to you—whether it’s yoga, going for a walk, exercising, something! Just get moving.
Getting daily exercise is proven to minimize stress and doesn’t cost you a dime.
8. Eat Healthy
Don’t hate me for this one, but eating healthy is great for your body and your wallet.
Stock up your fridge with fruits and vegetables and plan out your meals at the start of each day to avoid feeling tempted to opt for takeout. Not only will you eat better, you won’t waste money when you’re feeling too lazy to cook.
And to be clear: this isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy a delicious cheeseburger every once in a while. Just be mindful of how you’re eating and avoid relying too much on junk food to regulate your mood.
9. Start Saying “No”
As entrepreneurs, we pride ourselves on the ability to take on as much as possible. But one element of self-care is taking on less.
Perhaps the biggest change you can make for yourself is to start saying “no” more often.
Set boundaries with others and yourself and focus only on activities that bring value to your life.
Think of it like Marie Kondo-ing your life: don’t take on an extra responsibility unless it brings you joy.
Weekly/Monthly Self-Care Ideas
There’s only so much time in a day. Here are some self-care activities that you should take on every few weeks—no excuses!
10. TV and Movie Binges
If you are super busy for any reason—balancing parenthood with entrepreneurship, working a 9-5 while growing your business, or just growing a business really quickly—you likely don’t watch a lot of TV.
I definitely don’t watch every day, but I’ve learned to use down times to catch up on a few of my guilty pleasures (Married at First Sight, anyone?).
It’s OK to put the to-do list down for a few hours and enjoy this time guilt-free with a little cocoa (or wine!) and your favorite blanket. Remember, you earned it!
11. Home Spa
Every 1-2 weeks, I take time to enjoy a bubble bath, or at least a body scrub. And before many of my summer weddings, I take a few minutes to apply a face mask.
Something about this makes me feel like I’m removing the stress of the week and preparing to step into the event with a fresh, clean zen.
12. Go Outside
Okay, this may sound obvious, but when you’re neck-deep in work, spending significant time outside can feel like a luxury you can’t afford.
But there’s something so mysteriously calming about nature that can give your mind a much-needed reset. Take some time to sit on your porch and watch it happen. Watch the stars, the sunrise, the changing leaves, or the falling snow. It’s a beautiful thing, and it really does help you clear your mind.
If you can get outside daily, go for it! But make sure you spend some self-care time outside at least once per week.
13. Leave Time for Hobbies
The demands of entrepreneurship, combined with our busy personal lives, give us very little time to focus on things we love doing.
Make an effort to carve out time for your hobbies at least once per week—whether you’re playing music, scrapbooking, cooking, or birdwatching. Do whatever rejuvenates your spirit.
14. Connect with People Offline
It’s convenient to communicate with friends and family through Facebook and Instagram, but make sure you take time to connect with people offline too.
Weekly coffee dates are great for clearing the mind and getting yourself out of a work-only mindset.
15. Take Social Media Vacations
If you don’t have the time or budget for a real vacation, try a social media vacation.
For example, take the entire month of July off social media. It can help you focus on your work, relationships, and environment.
Self-Care Doesn’t Have to Be Pricey
All of these ideas are either free or cost less than $20, and many only take a few minutes to do.
So make some time for yourself in your schedule this month—you definitely deserve it, and your mood and your health will thank you.