Let me guess you are sick of hearing about self-care? Every time you open Instagram, you see it used in an advertisement. As if the daily hustle and bustle can be cured by a face mask anyway. Don’t worry, I’m with you! Real self-care is about taking the time to look after yourself. It has nothing to do with the money. In this post, I am going to give you five free and five cheap ways to practice self-care. HS is a changeable disease, and what you may be up for one day, you won’t be the next. So, feel free to adapt these to your own needs.
These 5 tips require no equipment or expense. However, making time for a hobby is its own form of self-care. If you choose to invest in something you love, feel free. Otherwise, know that all you need is yourself.
Walking is the ultimate free self-care activity. It is entirely free, and you can incorporate it into your day. Lots of people take a daily walk because of its mental health benefits. Walking, especially in nature, makes us happy. The endorphins from exercise as well as the break, reduce anxiety. Walking also aids other body functions like digestion and sleep.
If your HS is acting up and a walk seems like too much, adapt your errands. If you need to visit the shop or bank, leave the car a distance from your destination. If you work at a desk, make sure you take a couple of short walks in the day. They only need to be about ten minutes. Just let your body move and stretch.
I recently listened to The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads podcast called The Mindfulness Conspiracy. It was about the commercialisation of mindfulness and mediation. The speaker said the basic Buddhist principles in the practice get lost behind paywalls.
While I agree that learning meditation can be expensive, I disagree that it must be. YouTube has many great meditation channels you can use for free. There are also podcasts and free apps. As well as that, check out your local library or community centre. Some have groups you can join.
Take a nap
This is my all-time favourite self-care tip, probably because I have chronic insomnia. If you feel tired, have a nap. Don’t feel guilty for sleeping during the day, because when your body is healing, it needs the rest.
The key to napping is to set a limit. Set your alarm for an hour or two and get up when it comes calling. If you are active during the day, a nap won’t prevent you from sleeping at night.
Cleaning up may seem more of a chore than self-care. But being in a tidy space can improve your mood. You don’t need to spend the day scrubbing floors. All you need is to dedicate ten to fifteen minutes a few times a day.
When I’m working at my desk, I often take a break and do a household job. It allows me to stretch my legs. And when I go back to the desk, I am more focused.
You don’t need to be good at dancing to dance. And you certainly don’t need to go to an expensive class. Remember, when you were a child, nobody taught you to dance, you just did. And it would have brought you so much joy. Put on your favourite playlist or the radio and get moving.
Unlike dancing, some self-care practices need a small number of supplies. However, you don’t need to buy anything fancy or expensive if you don’t want to. The following tips only work if they help you feel well. It’s more about the practice than the equipment.
Write a journal
Writing is one of the best ways to look after your mental health. Writing allows you to express your emotions healthily. If you don’t know where to start, the Centre of Journal Therapy has a handy acronym, WRITE.
- What do you want to write about?
- Reflect on how you feel when you write.
- Investigate how you feel by writing it down.
- Time yourself. Dedicate 10-15 minutes a day and set a timer to keep track.
- Exit smart. Review what you have written. Are there any actions you can take?
Humans have been creating art forever. Long before you could read or do math, you were artistic. Creativity is one of the most essential human things we do. Yes, even you can make art, stick men absolutely count.
You don’t need a lot of stuff. The results you can get with a pack of crayons or some colouring pencils can be just as beautiful. You will be surprised when you finish your masterpiece how good you feel. Art at every ability level is fulfilling self-care.
Getting lost in a good book is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Depending on what you are into, you can learn or be thrilled. You can cry, relate or laugh yourself silly. If you can’t sit down with a book, listen to an audiobook. And don’t forget that public libraries are most often free and have books for every taste.
Plant a garden
Gardens are lovely things. You out in nature, creating something. Gardens also give you a place to go when you’re feeling down. They are beautiful and even get you exercising. Can you think of anything better? (Okay, maybe napping).
If you don’t have a garden to plant, start a windowsill garden, that’s what I did. Initially, there was a cost, and I was concerned about the light level. But now every summer, I have new plants that I grew. The growing season is one of my favourite times of the year. I get endless joy, watching things grow.
Cook a meal
Cooking your own meals is one of the best things you can do for your body. We all know that diet can affect your HS flare-ups. So, cooking gives you control over what you put into your body in a way processed meals can’t. As well as that, food is a creative activity. Bonus tip, why not grow fruit, vegetables and herbs in that garden we talked about? And if you need recipes, HidraWear have you covered.
There You Have It…
Self-care is not hard. If you are in doubt, ask yourself what it is you need. Whether that’s calm, space or better health, there is something in this list for every goal. And if you need something more involved but still chill, check out our post on hobbies you can do from your sofa.
About the Author
Shannon Sweeney has an MA in Community Research & Journalism from Ireland and works as a multimedia journalist. She is also living with HS and has a keen interest in lifestyle, wellbeing and hidradenitis suppurativa.