Person laying in bed with tea and a small dog

If you’ve spent time on social media, you’ve probably come across plenty of people talking about self-care. While it can be inspiring to see others practicing self-care, social media can sometimes give an altered portrayal of what self-care should look like. In a lot of cases, influencers will take trips, splurge on shopping sprees or spend money on other activities. While this can look great online, it may not be a great fit for everyone. Remember, self-care shouldn’t just be about feeling good in the moment, it should also help you feel better longer term. It’s important to find activities that work for you and are within your budget. Here are some ways you can practice self-care that won’t cost you a thing (and may actually help you save money).

What is self-care?

Self-care is any activity that we intentionally do to take care of our own mental, emotional and physical health. Sometimes self-care may take the form of treating ourselves like buying a fancy coffee. Other times, self-care requires us to do things that may not feel as good in the moment, but will help us live healthier and happier lives long term. Activities like budgeting, eating healthy, staying active and getting enough sleep all fall under self-care (in addition to the occasional guilt-free pint of ice cream).

Self-care activities on a budget

If you’re not sure how to begin a budget-friendly self-care plan, here are some activities and resources on campus to help you get started.

  • Meet with a Peer Wellness Coach to make your own self-care plan. Students can meet one-on-one with a trained Peer Wellness Coach to set goals, customize a self-care plan and make meaningful changes. The best part? Sessions are free! Make an appointment or meet with a coach during drop-hours.
  • Learn how to manage your personal finances. If you’ve ever wondered how to budget, file your taxes, finance a car or save for future goals, learning how to manage your personal finances is a great first step. MoneyCoach is an online tool that provides free educational videos to help you navigate money management, including how to pay off credit cards and student loans.
  • Connect with a dietitian to create a healthy meal plan. There are a number of nutrition resources available on campus, including free nutrition consultations at the Rec Center. Students can visit with a registered dietitian nutritionist to discuss eating habits, food sensitivities, meal planning, meal preparation and much more. For ongoing support, students can also schedule an appointment with a dietitian through Nutrition Services at Wardenburg Health Center.
  • Stay active in the gym or outdoors. If you need motivation to go to the gym or take an adventure in the great outdoors, the Rec Center is a good place to start. Grab a friend and join the Fitness and Wellness team for Free Friday Power Hour to try out a new group fitness class every Friday evening. In addition to fitness classes, the Rec’s Outdoor Program offers free Wilderness Workshops to prepare students for the great outdoors with classes on winter biking, trip planning, backcountry cooking and more. Try a number of activities to find something you enjoy, so it’ll be easier to stick with it.
  • Give meditation a try. If you have trouble shutting off your thoughts and quieting your mind, meditation may be a beneficial activity to include in your self-care plan. The goal is not to completely turn your brain off but to slow down the busyness of college life. Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) offers a free guided meditation every Friday in the Art Museum as part of their Feel Good Friday series. Additional meditations are also available through the Contemplative Resource Center on campus. If you’d rather practice meditation at home, Headspace is a great app that includes meditations and exercises for mindfulness and sleep.
  • Evaluate and clean out your social media accounts. Social media is a place where we can connect with friends, share memories and learn new things. However, it can sometimes take a toll on our self-esteem and emotional wellbeing. Take a break from social media to participate in other self-care activities like reading, meeting up with friends in person or going for a walk. You can also check out these tips on how you can improve your relationship with social media.
  • Take a break. If you’re feeling stuck or in a slump, take a break. It may help you feel more motivated and creative when you get back to work. Health Promotion offers free mid-week activities during Wellness Wednesday to help you relax and reset. It’s also a great opportunity to connect with friends or meet someone new.
  • Talk through things. If you’re experiencing anxiety, stress or depression or are struggling in other areas of your life, it can be helpful to talk through it with someone. Students can use Let’s Talk to access free and confidential consultations with counselors. Let’s Talk counselors can provide insight, solutions and information about additional resources. Common areas they address include stress, worry, relationships, academic performance, family issues and financial struggles. Gaining professional insight can help you get peace of mind and make a plan to move forward. 
  • Ask for help, even if it feels difficult or awkward. Asking for help can sometimes feel awkward. We may not always think we need it, or we may be resistant to asking for help. However, asking for help is an important component of self-care because we can’t always do it on our own. Remind yourself that it’s okay to ask for help, whether that means visiting your professor during office hours or going to Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) for a walk-in appointment.