25 Self Care Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank

Self Care Ideas by popular DC lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a woman shaving her legs in her bathroom and wearing a blue and white striped bathrobe and a white towel wrap on her head.

It’s Week 3 of Social Distancing: how are you all holding up?

On Monday, the governor of Virginia just issued a stay at home order for VA residents until June 10th. Meaning, we have at least another 2.5 months at home. I’m happy to do my part, stay indoors, and help flatten the curve. However, I know isolation can also drive anyone mad!

Can I let you in on a little secret? When I moved to Philadelphia back in 2017, it was initially a tough adjustment for me. I was so excited to move to a new city. However, I lived alone, I worked from home, and I still didn’t know a ton of people in town. I would spend weeks on end cooped up in my apartment with nothing to do. I started to feel depressed, and I decided to work with a therapist to adjust to this significant life change.

Prior to moving to Philly, I was in D.C., I had a full-time job and went into an office Monday-Friday, went to plenty of influencer events after work, and I had a roommate. I was always surrounded by people, and I was lucky if I had any alone time. I’ve always been a very social person, so when I made the move, and I wasn’t surrounded by people 24/7, it took a toll on my mental health. I had to learn how to be okay with being alone.

Social distancing is going to be a tough adjustment for everyone, whether you’re living alone or surrounded by family. Even if you’re introverted and tend to stick to yourself, not being able to go to the office or your favorite restaurant or that workout class is going to disrupt your routine. That’s why it’s so crucial to make time for yourself and practice a little self-care during this period.
Self Care Ideas by popular DC lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a woman sitting on her bathroom window ledge and wearing a blue and white striped bathrobe and a white towel wrap on her head.

Looking for some self care ideas while on a budget at home? Here are some of my favorite budget-friendly self-care ideas:

25 Budget Friendly Self Care Ideas

  1. Give yourself a spa night. Light some candles, try out a new mask, give your hair a deep condition, take a long bath, do a foot soak…the possibilities are endless!
  2. Get some fresh air and go for a walk. Admittedly, I never really found pleasure in walking before social distancing. However, now that I don’t have meetings, events, or date nights out on the town with Tom and my friends, I saw my step count dwindle. I took a 45-minute walk on Sunday, and it did wonders for me mentally! Take a few minutes out of your day and walk around your neighborhood if it’s nice out — the fresh air will do you good.
  3. Do a home workout. As they say in Legally Blonde, exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. I love working out because it’s a small part of my day where I don’t have to worry about anyone or anything but myself. I’m focused on getting stronger and building endurance. If work is stressing me out or if someone’s getting on my nerves, I can just let it all out and let it go when I work out. Here are some free at-home workouts you can try!
  4. Take a nap. I’ll admit it: when this social distancing period first started, I felt the pressure to be productive every hour of the day. I finally had more time at home, and I could knock out so many projects and finally deep clean my place. You don’t have to be productive every second of the day. This is a weird time for a lot of us. You might not be sleeping well. You might be facing financial issues. It’s ok to let yourself rest!
  5. Have a solo dance party. As a former dancer, this is something I do daily, TBH! Turn on your favorite playlist or learn the new hot dances on Tik Tok and jam out, my friends. This will instantly improve your mood!
  6. Try a new (or old!) hobby. Is there something you want to try now that you have the extra time? Whether it’s teaching yourself ballroom dances on YouTube or learning a new language, think about a new hobby that will bring you joy and dive in.
  7. Give yourself a mani/pedi. Guys. I really, really miss the nail salon. I don’t usually give myself manicures at home, and I have a long way to go in terms of refining my skills. However, if you mess up that at-home mani, no one has to know or even see it! 😉
  8. Dress up for yourself. I personally feel a million times better when I have a slammin’ outfit on. Tom…he doesn’t care. Ha! I dressed up in a super extra maxi dress this past weekend, sat on my deck, sipped on some wine, and felt like a queen. Rock your favorite outfit around the house for you!
  9. Treat yourself the next time you grocery shop. Having a long week? Pick up a treat (or two!) for yourself at the grocery store the next time you shop. And don’t share it with anyone else in your household! Whether it’s your favorite brand of ice cream or your go-to cheese, don’t worry about that diet. You deserve it, friend!
  10. Start reading more. Anyone else feel like they’ve reached the end of Netflix? Turn off the TV, put down the phone, and dive into a book. I like doing this before bed: the less screen time I have before going to sleep, the better!
  11. Go on a solo drive. Need to get out of the house? Go on a short drive for yourself. Drive through that cute dream neighborhood in town, or take a cruise through a scenic route. Blast your favorite music, or listen to your go-to podcasts. No need to get out of your car — just drive safely, enjoy the change of scenery, and come right back home.
  12. Take a virtual museum tour. They might be closed to the public, but you can still browse your favorite museums online. Check out this roundup of the best virtual tours in the world. 
  13. Set up FaceTime dates with new (and old) friends. Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to lose touch with your friends and family. Set up a few FaceTime dates throughout the week to get that face-to-face interaction!
  14. Mute or unfollow any social media that don’t make you feel great. Are you following an influencer, news outlet, or friend, and do their posts make you feel inferior or drive you up a wall? Mute or unfollow them for your own mental health! 
  15. Buy yourself flowers. More time at home = more time to enjoy that fresh bouquet.
  16. Declutter a problem spot. Not going to lie: cleaning has been very therapeutic for me. Now that I’m spending more time at home, the existing clutter we have drives me up a wall! Take 20-30 minutes out of your day a few times a week to tackle a problem area, and figure out ways to organize it.
  17. Make yourself a luxurious latte or fruit-infused water. You might not be able to go to your favorite coffee shop, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite drinks at home! Right now, I’m stepping up my latte game, and investing in a milk frother to step up my morning cup of coffee. For those days when I don’t feel like drinking coffee, I like to make myself a hot lemon water, and I add fresh lemons and mint to it. It’s easy to make, and it makes me feel like I’m in a spa!
  18. Keep a gratitude journal. Look on the bright side, and focus on the good. I try to wake up each day and think about my “5 Gratefuls” — five things that I’m the most thankful for. It really helps me put things in perspective!
  19. Cook a fancy meal for yourself. You might not be able to dine out at a restaurant, but you can prepare your favorite meals at home. Think about your favorite dishes, and go to town!
  20. Get creative and try out a new art project. Whether it’s photography, watercolors, knitting, or using an adult coloring book, work that right side of your brain and hone in your inner creative.
  21. Meditate and do self-guided therapy.  I like using the app Headspace for meditation, and Bloom for daily self-guided therapy sessions!
  22. Go to bed early or sleep in late. A few extra hours of sleep will make you feel like a million bucks. Try to go to sleep a little earlier, or allow yourself to stay in bed an extra hour or two a few days a week!
  23. Host your own “happy hour.” Whether it’s getting a group of friends together on Zoom or making a nice cocktail for yourself at home at 5 pm, give yourself a toast!
  24. Say “no” to someone. Don’t feel pressured to say “yes” to any projects or meetups that aren’t worth it. If it’s going to take a toll on your mental health, just drop it!
  25. Make a picnic for yourself. Head out to your backyard, grab a picnic basket, some wine, and cheese, and enjoy!

Do you have any self care ideas that I didn’t list? Let me know in the comments below!

Photos by Tom McGovern

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