With a new year in full swing, self-care is a term you’re probably hearing a lot these days. And these free self-care ideas are definitely something to work on implementing!

They even have added health bonuses! Studies show practicing self-care boosts your self-esteem, helps you feel more connected with how you’re feeling and shows you and others that your needs are just as important as everyone else’s.

Some people equate self-care with things like facials, massages, maybe even buying that expensive purse they’ve been eyeing—but not all self-care needs to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, some of the best self-care ideas are entirely free and can make you feel great not only while doing them but after too. Here are a few free self-care ideas to get you started.

FREE SELF-CARE IDEAS TO TRY TODAY

GET OUTSIDE

Ever been outside on a gorgeous day and thought, “Wow, I feel great! This makes me feel so much better!”? It’s not in your head—studies have shown that getting outside in nature lowers the stress hormone cortisol, meaning it can actually help you relax and unwind. Not near any woods? That’s ok. Even a quick walk around the block, exploring a new park, or taking an urban hike count for outdoor time. And the best part: it’s free!

woman meditating outside in nature

CHANGE YOUR INNER MONOLOGUE 

How many times a day do you find yourself saying negative things to yourself? “Don’t eat that,” “You can’t make that work,” “Why’d you do it that way?”. 

If it’s more negative than positive, it’s time to change your inner monologue and create a healthier mindset.

Talking yourself up not only makes you feel better but can (and will!) build up your confidence, two key factors when practicing self-care. If you wouldn’t say what you’re thinking about yourself to someone else, why would you direct it on yourself? It’s a mindset change that will go far in your self-care journey—and doesn’t cost a dime.

FIND A HOBBY

If you feel like all you do is work, eat, sleep, repeat, it’s time you found a hobby! Think about what makes you feel good and feel happy. It could be cooking a meal (or two!), baking, gardening, creating new music playlists, drawing…you get the idea. 

And while these hobbies might not be totally free, you can find creative ways to save money while practicing them. Need new cooking tools? Try thrifting them! Want more houseplants? Propagate clippings from your friend’s fave plants. 

Whatever you want to pursue, doing activities outside of the daily grind will make you feel happier and improve your mindset. Plus, it’s an excellent start to prioritizing self-care.

BREATHE

Breathing. It’s something we do every day, but it can also be used as a self-care technique. If you’re feeling stressed, count to five as you inhale, and count to five again as you exhale. Slowing your breathing can help you feel less anxious, think clearer, and make more definite decisions. If you need a little coaching on breathing or breathing techniques, meditation phone apps can help. Search your phone’s app store for free options.

woman deep breathing

BE PROTECTIVE OF YOUR TIME

There’s only so much time in your day (and your life!). Don’t be afraid to be protective of your time and practice saying “no” to things that really don’t serve you. 

Just because you say No to a happy hour, lunch, baby shower, or bridal shower, doesn’t mean you don’t care about the people who invited you. It simply means you’re learning to prioritize your needs above others, which is crucial to any self-care routine. 

You’re not selfish, you’re just learning to listen to what you need! If you’re feeling guilty for saying no, propose another time to meet up or suggest another activity that works better for you.

GET MOVING

You know what feels better than saving money on self-care? Movement! Think of action as the most natural daily self-care routine ever. It doesn’t take a lot to feel good either: it could be 10 minutes of stretching, a quick yoga sequence, a walk around the block, jumping jacks in your living room, whatever makes you feel good. 

Movement not only makes us feel better, but helps our bodies regulate hormone activity, boost our immune system, and helps with increased flexibility and endurance. And it doesn’t have to cost you anything.

Read next: Five Simple and Fulfilling Physical Self-Care Ideas

FINAL THOUGHTS ON SELF-CARE

Now that you’ve got some inspiration for free self-care ideas, it’s time to implement them (or any other ones you can think of). The more you prioritize yourself and your needs, the better you’ll be able to care for others.

Remember: self-care is not selfish and doesn’t need to cost a ton of money. It’s about changing your mindset and genuinely looking for small ways to make yourself feel good. They’ll all add up to a great result: a stronger, healthier, and more positive you!


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR, STEPHANIE SMALL 

Stephanie Small wellness writer

Hi, I’m Stephanie! I’m a Seattle native, living in the suburbs with my husband, dog, cat, and soon-to-be son. When I’m not writing freelance articles or marketing writing at my day job, you can find me doting on my houseplants, enjoying a walk in nature, or trying out a fun new recipe in the kitchen. 

Check out my website for more examples of my work.