I know how to cheer myself up — and, if I can pat myself on the back, I’m very good to myself, especially if I’ve had a bad day. I’ve spontaneously booked a $150 massage, clicked “purchase” on buttery-soft leather boots, and splurged on (multiple!) technicolor $15 cocktails to shake off everything from a curt comment from a boss to a bad breakup.
Even when I try to cut back, I find that “self-care” can cost major bucks. Books, bubble baths, and cold brews aren’t exactly free! At the same time, when you’re feeling ugh, you’re not exactly super motivated to round up some baking soda, cornstarch, citric acid, and essential oils to build your own bath bombs. So how can you be good to yourself, your bank account, and your well-being? Try one of these strategies:
1) Make — and serve — yourself dinner
No need to run out to the grocery store for ingredients. Even putting a Pop-Tart on a plate and sitting down at a table can make you feel more pampered than if you had scarfed it down standing up. For extra points, dim the lights and cue up a Spotify playlist of your favorite jams.
2) Put fresh sheets on your bed
Fluff the pillows and fold down the comforter in the way you like best for that “hotel” feel at a $0 price tag.
3) Drink a glass of water
Or two. Sometimes when you’re feeling a little foggy, you don’t even realize it’s because you’re dehydrated. Have a glass — toss in some cut-up fruit to make it extra fancy — and you’ll be re-energized in no time.
4) Make a cup of tea
Rolling your eyes? Me too! Or I was until I actually made myself a cup of tea. I’m a coffee drinker to the core, but finding an herbal blend, boiling water, and sitting down and enjoying a hot beverage after a cold, damp day is much more decadent than it might sound. In other words, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
5) Clean out your inbox
A mindless, mess-free chore can stop you from ruminating on whatever’s bothering you, and getting to inbox zero can feel so (so, so, so!) satisfying.
6) Lie in savasana
Any yoga flow will help you feel good, but if you want to skip straight to savasana, we won’t judge. It’s the best pose — and if it turns into a nap, even better.
7) Make a mug cookie
Decadent, delicious, ooey-gooey comfort in a mug, coming right up. There are plenty of recipes online, but here’s a simple and foolproof one: Add one egg, two tablespoons cocoa powder, and ¼ cup powdered sugar to a mug; mix it all up, and nuke in the microwave for a minute. Done and yum.
8) Do a language lesson on DuoLingo
Learning a new skill is fun and free, and the game-like interface of this language-learning app can remind you just how smart, talented, and full of possibility you are.
9) Escape into a good book
Kindle offers free reads on the regular, ranging from classics to contemporary fiction. Feeling old school? Hit up the library — or swap bestsellers with a friend. Find the equivalent of literary junk food, if that’s what will make you feel good, or dive into fantasy or science fiction to help you forget the real world.
You know how recess made everything better as a kid? The same is accurate for adults. Download a workout app like Zombies, Run (where you run away from zombies while following a workout routine) which can help you get your sweat on (holla, endorphins!).
11) Say hi to someone
It sounds cheesy, but when you’re super caught up in your own stuff, the best way to break the cycle is to just get out of your head. Say hi to a grocery clerk, a barista, your coworker. It’s great if the “hi” then sparks a conversation, but a simple exchange of hellos and smiles can also cheer you up. Don’t have anyone around you? Surround yourself with people, stat.
12) Watch some dogs play at the dog park
Dare you not to smile.
13) Let your friends remind yourself just how awesome you are
Run a search in your email for the phrase “you’re awesome.” You’ll turn up all the emails from friends and family who have shared that phrase with you over the years.
14) Cue up some baby goat yoga
Ideally, you would do baby goat yoga. But since most of us don’t live near the farms offering this one-of-a-kind class, you can also get happy by watching goat yoga. So get on YouTube, stat.
15) Two words: Sand cutting
Again, this is a “even more soothing if it’s watched” type of thing. The official term for videos of people doing mundane things that somehow make you feel chilled out, calm, or even tingly (but in a good way!) is ASMR — autonomous sensory meridian response. Research is mixed about whether ASMR is a scientific phenomenon, but the Internet — and plenty of Reddit threads — confirm it’s a thing. Even if you don’t get any physical sensations, you’ve gotta admit watching videos of sand carving can make your brain turn off in the best way. Check out @sand.tagious on IG and see for yourself. It’s cool, weird, hypnotizing, and happiness-inducing.
16) Cross something off your to-do list
Even if that “something” is “write your to-do list.” An app will work, but there’s something extra satisfying about doing it with pen and paper.
17) Quit a subscription service
You know how there’s always that one thing you don’t mean to be paying for — but somehow still are? Take ten minutes and unsubscribe. Doing so will feel so good — and your bank account will thank you, too.