I’m a working-class writer who is recovering from paying for student loans, bad financial decisions caused by lack of planning, and working jobs with meager wages to boot.
Things haven’t moved up fast, but I feel confident that I’ll get over this slump thanks to seeking financial counseling from people who were raised in a working-class background as well.
It got me thinking about privilege, and how finances, one’s place in life, and one’s struggle can affect their ability to practice the coveted self-care. We need to create a world where anyone can engage in this practice and need to recognize why we haven’t yet.
Many blogs provide advice I still can’t feasibly do. Weekly brunches with friends aren’t in my budget, and I’ve never been able to afford a massage or spa day to save my life. But I do make a living as a freelance writer and regardless of how unstable it can be to make a living as a creative, it’s not possible to most people
Below are a few self-care tips I’ve developed that don’t cost me anything or that don’t cost much:
- Use earplugs and eye covers when you sleep. Even if you live alone, you probably have neighbors. Most adults don’t get quality sleep and it affects us. Earplugs won’t drown out any important emergency noises, if any should arise. You’ll still be able to hear a siren, but you don’t have to deal with your upstair’s neighbors drunken footsteps.
- Try to work in a quiet zone. If you have a 9-5 job, you may not have a choice or any input on noise levels, this is especially true for people who work in construction sites, gyms, bars, and restaurants, but there are probably tons of other service industries where loud music and loud clients are the norm. It might help to find even one minute of quiet time before or after your shift to decompress.
- Exercise for five minutes per day. I’m no nutritionist or personal trainer, but I know most Americans don’t exercise nearly enough. Forget about body conventions, appearances or losing weight, focus on other goals that don’t require on beauty standards. Moving can help you feel better and have more energy without chugging so much caffeine.
- Schedule your breaks. Not everyone has a choice in this, but if you have a job that gives you breaks or a lunch period, take it. Don’t eat lunch at your desk if you have the option. Don’t do anything during your break that isn’t taking your break if you can avoid it. As a writer, I don’t get many breaks, but when people want to talk about work (even when I’m backpacking somewhere), I often tell people I’m a freelance writer and that I’m not interested in talking about work because it takes up so much of my time.
- Set boundaries. I don’t know what areas in your life you’ve been too permissive with. Maybe you have a partner who belittles you, a co-worker who keeps stealing your creamer, or a friend who keeps bailing. Practice setting boundaries. You don’t have to start with large things because setting boundaries is like a muscle, the more you respect yourself the more you can continue doing it. You don’t have to be rude about your boundaries either, you just have to make them known.
- Drink more water. Personally, I basically gave up sugar two years ago. I no longer add it to my coffee except maybe every three months if I need a kick, but less than half a teaspoon is effective for me. No longer taking sugar also made me drink less alcohol because suddenly even a glass of red wine and some beers felt sweet—not to mention cocktails. I’m not going to tell you to give up sugar, but I will encourage you to drink more water. Don’t go extreme with these changes. If you don’t drink any water right now, start with one glass. If you hate how it tastes, buy some mint leaves or cucumber or something so you can flavor it naturally. Just drink more water. You’ll be happier and hopefully, you live somewhere with a decent system so you won’t have to fork over money for plastic bottles all the time.