As a joy expert, self-care is my jam.
Let's get one thing clear, though... consumerism is NOT self-care.
Yet, society at large is constantly marketing things with the not-so-subtle message that "if you care about yourself, you'll buy X".
"Retail therapy" is, at best, a distraction from the real therapeutic work of fully acknowledging your experiences, feeling through them, and learning healthy, meaningful ways to navigate the world. At worst, "retail therapy" is a classist lie, leading people to believe they have to spend lots of money to take care of themselves.
Self-care has become synonymous with "treat yourself".
Self-care has been commodified and sold as a luxury.
I'm here to call bullshit.
The most meaningful, transformative types of self-care are not for sale.
The most meaningful, transformative types of self-care are practices that help you connect to ease of body/mind/spirit, establish a sense of belonging in the natural world, affirm your place within a community, and connect to a sense of hope for the future.
Below, I will list my personal top 20 favorite free, meaningful, self-care practices.
Please remember that self-care is a practice--it's not a quick fix. Nor is it all or nothing. Do what you can, when you can, as compassionately as you can.
Self-care is a commitment to your well-being and an affirmation of your inherent worthiness of joy, love, and belonging.
Please let me know what your favorite suggestions are, and any other types of self-care that work well for you.
Create a list of 1-5 MOST trusted people (this is your contact list for when you're getting down on yourself, or need connection. Put the list on a business card in your wallet. Let these people know they're on your list. USE THE LIST.)
Practice self-forgiveness (Where are you holding resentment, shame or frustration against yourself? Spend time writing yourself a letter of acknowledgment and forgiveness; conclude by stating you've done the best you can, and you're learning how to do better.)
Take a break from social media
Write down feelings without judgment or restraint
Practice interpersonal boundary-setting
Be sure to drink water & stay hydrated
Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4, exhale for 4; repeat as feels good
Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping pressure points)
Meditation (whichever form you like)
Take a break from technology
Read something edifying
Sing or chant
Spend time in nature
Nurture a plant or animal