Good days. Bad days. In-between days. Life can throw a wide variety of curveballs at us at any moment, upending our mental health and sending us spiraling. Sometimes, we need to seek professional help from qualified mental health professionals (QMHPs). Other times, we may just need to take a breath.
Regardless of which kind of day it is, we all need to engage in some self-care!
However, self-care does not always seem like it’s easy to get. If you’re stretched for time or cash, it can feel pretty impossible. We always hear about getting pampered with spa treatments or traveling to luxurious places as part of self-care plans. But, self-care doesn’t have to take a ton of time or winning the lottery. Maybe, the best self-care options are, actually, free and take only a few minutes.
Here are some ideas:
- Music – Music tamed the savage beasts, or so the saying goes. But, music really does have a significant impact on our mental health. It can boost our mood, make us happy, help us work through emotions, and direct our minds to positive thoughts. Whether you like country, jazz, rock, or rap (or anything else, for that matter), you can find FREE playlists online on nearly every music streaming platform! SEKMHC even has a Spotify channel you might want to check out.
- Movement – Get active. Go and exercise. Do some yoga. Take a walk. You don’t have to have an expensive gym membership to walk around the neighborhood or do some stretching in your backyard. Just the act of getting up and moving creates increased blood flow to your heart and brain and makes your body happy. Your movement doesn’t have to last a long time; even short intervals of activity, like walking your dog, can elevate your mood. It’s also healthy – so, it’s another way to take care of yourself.
- Read – Many people can get lost in books. They can travel to wondrous lands, learn about extraordinary discoveries, or enjoy a story that whisks them away from real life. You don’t have to go and buy books from a store. Your local public library has nearly limitless options for free. And…if you don’t like to read, consider getting audiobooks!
- Memory Vacation – Recall a favorite memory and allow your mind to take you there. Close your eyes and take in the entire scene, using all of your senses. It might be a memory from your childhood or just a couple of days ago. Embrace the positive emotions your memory creates and use that to direct the rest of your day.
- Laugh – It’s been said that laughter is the best form of medicine. Whether that’s true or not is debatable. But, laughing has been scientifically proven to boost mood and encourage positivity. Take a few moments and act silly, tell jokes, or share funny stories with your kids, family members, or friends.
- Kindness – Most of the time when we think of self-care, we think of tending to our own needs. But, sometimes, giving compliments or offering up a random act of kindness can, actually, make us the recipient of those positive vibes. It feels good to help another person.
- Unplug – Social media and the internet are great. They keep us connected to the people we care about and the world. But, what happens when all of that is too much? Just unplug. Taking a break from the static that has become social media can be refreshing and allow us to get a reset for the day.
- Sunrise/Sunset – Taking in the colors and peace of a sunrise or sunset can be calming and just the affirmation we need to reframe our day in a positive mindset. If you’re not really a sunrise or sunset type of person, consider looking straight up, instead. Gazing at the stars can be calming, too.
- Self-Compassion – Some call it gentle talk, others call it self-compassion. Either way, we know that any amount of spa treatments, indulgent food, or exercise can’t fix a constant barrage of negativity given to us by our own toughest critics – ourselves! Give yourself a break. Affirm your worth. Have a talk with yourself about how awesome you are…how loving you are…and how worthy you are. Offer yourself grace; everybody makes mistakes. Talk to yourself with respect and admiration.
None of these self-care solutions cost anything. They don’t take significant amounts of time. They can be done in two minutes or two hours. They are stress-free and can deliver big results!