5 tips for self-care on a budget

By The Space Between Us
Self-care during Covid-19 doesn’t have to be expensive. It also doesn’t have to be a day at the salon, or the spa, or even about beautifying yourself. So what can we do for our self-care without a lavish budget? TSBU explores. 
When it comes to self-care, so often it’s the little things that count most, and we love how clinical psychologist Lwanele Khasu describes the journey, saying it “begins with emotional self-care”. There are so many easy ways to nourish our inner selves, especially when we feel overwhelmed. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at five of our favourite self-care tips that you could start today.

Detox from technology

This is especially important since so many of us are working remotely. Technology can be fun and entertaining, but it can also make it almost impossible to close that digital office door. Reading that late night email from your boss can nudge your anxiety levels into overdrive. Browsing social media feeds could eat away at your self-esteem. And a flood of negative news stories can compound depression, anxiety, and feelings of doom – all of this is made harder by worries about entering stricter Covid-19 lockdown conditions.

It’s almost always a better idea to start small, and one healthy way to do that is to pretend your devices are little kids with an earlier bedtime than you. Some people find that putting a rubber band around their phones helps prevent them from mindlessly picking them up all the time. That little rubber band (especially a brightly coloured one) is a great tool to help you snap out of autopilot. And why not take advantage of our load shedding schedules? Make them work for you instead of against you. It could be your perfect excuse to get into some journaling or take a step outside. 

Play some music

Give yourself the luxury of an entire hour with absolutely nothing but you and your favourite tunes. Music can boost your mood, release feel-good chemicals and hormones in your body, and help you express what you’re feeling. Whether you choose to sit quietly and let the music wash over you, or you’re in the mood to get up and dance like nobody’s watching, or sing like you’re on stage, choose music that uplifts you in some way.

The golden rule here is that you shouldn’t be multi-tasking. This is not the time to squeeze in a few household chores or send an email while you’re listening to your music. This is the time to allow your body and your mind the freedom to play the way they want to play. Your mind might start daydreaming, your body might start moving, or you might find both your mind and your body settling into a calming stillness. Whatever happens, this is your time for doing purely whatever serves you best.


Meditative or mindful doodling is gaining more and more attention as a tool for relaxation and mental health. Doodling is a free-flowing and spontaneous exercise that can create a quietly reflective space for you to be present, to soothe your mind, and still your body from everyday busyness. And all you need is a pen and paper!

There is no right or wrong way to doodle. You don’t even need to be able to draw. But if you’re lost at first, it can help to hold an image or an affirmation in your heart while you doodle. Repetitive images like clouds or hearts are lovely and gentle images to play around with. Affirmations that resonate with you in an uplifting way can be ‘I am worthy’, ‘everything is okay in this moment’, or ‘I am calm and confident’.

Make your own gratitude jar

Gratitude jars can be like joyful eye candy in our homes, adding a creative visibility to all the things we are grateful for, no matter how small. It’s like a jar full of thankfulness that quietly shows us we still have good things in our lives. And if even Harvard writes about the association between gratitude and greater happiness, it’s definitely worth a try, right?

The act of making your own gratitude jar is not just about letting your creative side out to play; it’s also about creating the jar that just feels right. Whether it’s a box, a jar, or a tin, it’s something that inspires you and lifts your heart just by looking at it. Play with colours, designs, shapes and textures, stickers, ribbons, wrapping paper, magazine cut-outs, old photographs, buttons … literally anything! And then, written on a piece of paper, add to it one thing you’re grateful for every day. Even if it’s just your morning cup of coffee. Everything counts.

Take a trip down memory lane

Khasu reminds us that we can also find joy in taking trips down memory lane, and encourages us to find the things that can trigger-happy and nostalgic moments. “This is possible,” she says, “when the past has happy memory associations. Focus on transporting yourself to a time you felt hopeful, loved, cared for, powerful, calm, resilient, or any moment that elicits feelings of being protected right now.”

Some of Khasu’s best advice is to include listening to songs we enjoyed as a family when growing up, looking through old photographs, and connecting with loved ones. She also suggests cooking your favourite childhood meal or a meal you ate in happy moments. You could watch a movie that evokes happy sentiments within you or re-read a book that helped you understand your sense of self at a time when you felt confused.

But perhaps the most important thing we can all do, no matter which self-care ideas we embrace as part of our personal mental health programmes, is to be self-compassionate. Especially now. The Covid-19 pandemic has created a lot of turmoil and unknowns in our lives, so alongside this new normal we’re all learning about, let’s also learn a new self-kindness. Let’s do this. Let’s practice self-kindness like never before.

Sign up for our Cultivating Self Care Workshop for a treasure trove of more tips, skills, and tools to help you create a more resilient you.