What comes to mind when you hear the word “self-care”? Do you see a flash of Instagram squares featuring massages, spa days, expensive skincare routines, and weekend getaways? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Self-care has become more of a buzzword than a practice in our culture; a buzzword synonymous with “treat yourself” spending and “YOLO” activities. When discussing self-care with others I always hear responses like “I can’t afford that” or “Who has time for self-care?”.

Did you know self-care was practiced in ancient Greece? The Greeks believed self-care was critical to cultivating a healthy society. They understood that to care for others, you first have to take care of yourself. Self-care was a practice of feeding your soul by tending to your mind and body.

When I personally think of feeding my soul, the activities that come to mind are not attached to a large price tag. I think of everyday moments I look forward to, like listening to my favorite podcast on my commute to work or watching the sunset from my back porch. Increasing and mindfully participating in positive activities is a great way to feed your soul and balance your emotions.

Below is a short list of cost-effective positive activities I personally use for self-care and am now recommending to you:

  • Create a playlist of your favorite songs
  • Meditate
  • Listen to a podcast or TED talk on a subject that inspires you
  • Engage with nature. You may choose fishing, hiking, spending time on the beach, or sitting on your front porch. Fresh air and soaking in some sunshine always improves my mood!
  • Pet a dog—or cat—I am biased
  • Volunteer (bonus: if you don’t have a pet, volunteering at the humane society is a double whammy of positive emotions!)
  • Exercise! You don’t need an expensive gym membership to exercise. Try going for a walk or run, taking a bike for a spin, or search YouTube for a yoga session you could do from home.
  • Check out a new book from the library
  • Try a spa day at home! I love an Epsom salt bath and a facial mask. You can find cheap facial masks at drugstores, Wal-Mart, or Target. There are also great facial masks you can make with ingredients you probably have lying around your house.
  • Check your local community’s activities calendar for upcoming events
  • Have friends over for a game night
  • Take a free online course to learn the basics of a new topic, skill, or hobby
  • Teach yourself to cook a new recipe
  • Journal or blog—you could even do a photo journal if you prefer photography to writing

As you can see, all of these activities rank low in cost and high in positive emotions! Try some of these out and think of activities you could add to the list. Happy soul feeding!