#TreatYourself: Affordable & Accessible Self-Care Options
You’ve heard it before: self-care is a necessity. It’s a common refrain in the creative community and one that’s even more ubiquitous in female circles.
But as feminism becomes a buzzword, and self-empowerment a hashtag, self-love can sometimes feel like a pretty picture on Instagram, filtered through a lens of aspiration, rather than attainability. #TreatYourself?
It’s a great irony of attempting to “have it all” (the perfect hair, the flawless skin, the thriving career, etc.) that the stress of doing so means we must also take the time, money, and resources needed to invest in ourselves. And it can seem like a cruel joke to encourage women to practice self-care when those resources are lacking, and potentially even the cause of stress in the first place.
And make no mistake, women are consistently more stressed than men, with women of color even more so. Factors like money, work, and the economy all play into a gender-wide stress gap, to say nothing of the sexism and racism many of us experience daily.
So we get it and we hear you: there’s an incredible amount of privilege attached to the access and practice of self-care. Taking a moment to consider yourself — and not your job, your partner, or your kids — isn’t what we’ve been conditioned to do, which is why it can feel like such an extravagance.
But it can also feel powerful in the face of such a stacked deck. As poet and activist Audre Lorde famously wrote, self-care is not “self-indulgence—it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
So we’re here to say it again: self-care is a necessity. And it shouldn’t cost you half a paycheck to obtain it. We’ve rounded up a few simple and inexpensive ways to love yourself when you need it most.
How do you practice self-love? We'd love to read about your routine in the comments.
It’s as simple and as inexpensive as realizing that self-care doesn’t require doing anything. While the bells and whistles of a $$$ aromatherapeutic candle can absolutely help you unwind, expensive products are not a prerequisite to treating yourself. Self-care starts with an attitude shift — with realizing that self-care is also self-love and that self-love means simply taking a moment to breath and reaffirm your worth.
The cheapest thing you can do and, perhaps the most effective, sleep is our bodies’ (free!) built-in recharge system. It may sound like such a trivial thing, but getting enough of it is a proven way to curb stress, help prevent depression, and potentially catalyze creativity. Be good to yourself and snuggle in an hour or two earlier this evening.
Insomnia, anxiety, depression, headaches, digestive issues — acupuncture has been shown to improve all kinds of stress-related maladies. Take a peek at our list of businesses owned by self-identified women in Austin (included at the bottom of this article) that offer affordable sessions to make the practice more accessible community-wide. It’s worth a try, even if the thought of skin-puncturing needles freaks you out. (It doesn’t hurt, we promise!)
Get A Routine Massage
If you have enough budgetary wiggle room to swing $60 a month, try ironing out the external. The benefit of something like a massage membership or a monthly subscription to self-care is two-fold: You usually get a deal and it will keep your routine consistent. When you’re already scheduled to take out an hour exclusively for yourself each month, you’re more likely to make it happen.
Clean and/or Redecorate Your Space
Whether or not you believe in the cult of the tidy, you must admit that environmental factors absolutely affect the way we move about day-to-day. Changing the energy of your most intimate spaces can help recharge your batteries when they’re on E, or close to it. If you lack the funds to go full HGTV renovation, try rearranging your existing furniture and decor for a needed change of pace.
DIYing your aromatherapy sessions can save you dollars, while allowing for a completely customized experience. Directions are as follows: 1) Procure a small spray bottle (for a few bucks at HEB, or even the dollar store). 2) Procure one essential oil — or several — that makes you feel calm and rejuvenated. 3) Mix three parts water with every one part essential oil, spray, and enjoy.
Meditation can be intimidating for the uninitiated. Get started with free guided meditations or simply attempting to find some quiet time alone. Then, if you find yourself taken with centering your thoughts, look into the various, free mediation apps available for download including Headspace, Omvana, Calm, and more. DIYing it with a custom, ambient playlist and mantra is also always an option. The important thing is to just take time out to slow down your breath and your thoughts.
For the one-time fee of a pen and bound notepad (crafting your own could be fun), you have a portal to explore — and love on — the corners and curves of your mind, while simultaneously validating whatever feelings you’re feeling. It’s meditation minus the rhythmic music, with the added benefit of creative expression. It also works with your schedule so there’s no need to stress about trying to fit it into a tight schedule.
Talk to Somebody
Caring for yourself is really about prioritizing your own well-being over that of others — including your own mental health. If you could benefit from talking to someone about anything from anxiety to sexuality, consider affordable therapy options. YWCA Greater Austin offers individual counseling on a sliding scale, starting at $10, and dependent on income, dependents, residence, and identity.
Our self-care babes: