Audre Lorde once stated: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” 

How we define the term “self-care” has changed over the past few years. Countless celebrities have announced its importance across social media, creating a hashtag that is commonly used to caption selfies taken at luxurious spas and resorts. A type of self-care that is inaccessible for most.

When exactly did caring for yourself become such an expense? It is easy to be fooled into thinking that spending money equates to self-care. I am guilty myself of purchasing an overpriced smoothie solely for the reason that I read online, avocado and coconut milk will help make my skin glow, giving little thought to the price tag. It is near impossible to escape from phrases such as “because you are worth it” and “treat yourself.” Adverts of this kind try to convince us we need to splurge to feel good.

It is important to remember self-care does not always have to mean booking in a facial or ordering a new pair of shoes. I am not denying that these expenditures can help make you feel better, nor am I trying to deter you from doing something that makes you happy. However, let us consider the fact that these purchases can only offer instant gratification—the feeling after is ephemeral. 

Low-cost and sustainable self-care does exist. Yoga is hands down one of the greatest acts of self-care. It is a holistic approach to combating feelings of anxiety and tiredness, and it can be practiced at home for free. Timothy McCall, the co-author of Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care, asserts “even 10 to 15 minutes a day is valuable in re-patterning dysfunction in your body. It’s about personal practice. That’s where transformation happens.”

Other examples are giving yourself time to unplug, nap, and dance around your bedroom. Sleep deprivation is a big contributor to reduced mental health. It can cause your brain not to function properly, which leads to feelings of demotivation and stress. As simple as these steps may sound, it is easy to get caught up in the chaos of life and forget to stop and slow down. 

During my adolescence, I scoffed at my mother for suggesting that a healthy diet could help improve my mental health. I can still vividly recall the disgusted eye-roll I shot in her direction when encouraging me to go for a jog. Since reaching adulthood, I have, as always, started to see she was correct. Self-care can be exercising; it can be meditating; it can be simply just slowing down. These alternatives are inexpensive, accessible, and sustainable. Give yourself time each day to show your mind and body some appreciation.