We’ve been talking a lot recently about mental health, including the importance of self-care. But for many people, the thought of self-care seems to be a privilege. Not everyone can afford many of the things that are regularly suggested as self-care, such as trips to a spa, massages, an expensive gym membership, manicures, a fancy bottle of wine. It’s vital to take the time to look after yourself, especially for those who may think the cannot afford it- because it is often those on the lower end of the economic spectrum who are most in need of de-stressing, and self-love.

Eat well

Eating well is an essential part of a health, and can be an excellent way to take care of yourself. Healthy food can often be a more expensive and more time consuming option, but there are some great ways around this.

Meal boxes

Meal boxes can be a pricey long-term investment. However, many offer massive discounts for the first few orders, which means that as long as you remember to cancel, you can save quite a chunk of change on your food shopping for a week or two. Having a good meal, freeing up some time in the evenings and saving some money for use down the line, is great for your health and your bank balance.

  • Gusto- Gusto offers 50% off your first box, and 30% off all boxes bought in the first month of subscription.
  • Hello Fresh- Hello Fresh similarly offers 50% off your first box, but also 50% off the second. This means that each meal bought under this offer is £2.50 for 2 people (even less if cooking for more people).
  • Abel & Cole-Abel & Cole offer £30 off your first shopping order with the code RECIPE.

App-etisers

Now, there’s a handful of apps that can also aid you in your quest for cheap, good food. Wriggle will alert you to deals on meals in your area, so look out for the best discounts and healthy meals. It’s also not the worst thing in the world to enjoy a burger or pizza once in a while. Too Good To Go is a personal favourite, but it does need monitoring. Local cafes, coffee shops, hotels and greengrocers will let the app know when they have stock they need to get rid of, and users have to buy a “magic bag” through the app, and collect at a designated time. There’s only usually a few magic bags up for grabs so you have to be quick, but once you are, you can really luck out. I love TinCan Coffee, where if you turn up right before the pick up deadline, you can often get a bonus coffee when they are cleaning out the machine!
Olio is another alternative, where users list what they have to give away and others message them to arrange collection. This one is more hit-and-miss, but sometimes you can get just what you’re looking for- for free!

Budget workouts

Everyone everywhere will tell you that exercise is the key to maintaining both physical and mental well being. Gym memberships and fancy classes seem to be getting more and more expensive. However, there are ways to work out for free.

Exercise at home

Well, duh, right? Sure, it sounds simple, but it also sounds super boring. There’s a multitude of YouTube channels, websites, and apps, that have fun and effective routines to motivate home workouts.
Some great ones to check out are:

Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are great places for finding cheap, if not totally free, gym equipment. Especially in February after the New Year resolutions have died, or in early autumn once the desire for a “beach body” has been put away with the summer clothes. Weights and yoga mats are prolific victims of a good decluttering. I picked up a treadmill for £20 on Gumtree a few years back, and it means I can no longer use the bad weather or dark nights as an excuse to not run.

But you don’t actually need any equipment at all. Running is totally free! Almost everyone will already have a pair of trainers, and a good sports bra, so dust them off and pound the pavement. If you’re not a total newbie and prefer not to run alone, check out Parkrun,
to find a totally free run near you!

Get Outside

Most activities are much more fun with a group of people to laugh with. Get on your bikes and cycle out to a nice pub or a local beauty spot.

Grab a football and chase around the park. If there’s enough of you, a cheap rounders bat and ball can provide a summer of entertainment.

First-time Freebies

Many places offer free trials of their activities. There’s nothing to be ashamed with by exclusively hopping from free class to free class. Check out your local yoga studios, leisure centres and keep an eye on notice boards for free events near you. Not only is this purse-friendly, but mixing-up your workouts means you’ll be able to find something you really enjoy. Check out these places below for some free ways to work up that sweat.

  • Hussle– This app is PayAsUGym rebranded. Sign up, and your first pass is free. The app will show you which gyms near you are part of the scheme, so you can finally hit that fancy place you’ve been dying to try.
  • DW Fitness- DW Fitness offers a guest pass that’s valid for a whole three days! Great if you’ve got a long weekend available.
  • Anytime Fitness– With 162 locations nationwide, there must be one near your home or work to make use of a one-day free pass.
  • MoveGB– We’ve saved the best for last. MoveGB offers a whopping 7 day free trial. Better still, by signing up, you can the chance to give a 10 day free trial to a friend. So now you can encourage all your mates to join you in that pilates class, boot camp, or even rock climbing, totally free!

Volunteer

It might seem counter-intuitive to volunteer your time when you’re busy and short of time to look after yourself, but by finding something that fills you with the feel goods will give you a long-term warm and fuzzy feeling. There are a million different things you can do, so you’ll be able to find something you actually enjoy doing. You can volunteer at your local library or historic venue, you can keep a lonely old person company for a few hours a week, or give our food to homeless people. There’s animal sanctuaries, after-school clubs, food banks, youth groups to name a few. Many workplaces offer to let you out of the office to volunteer for a few hours a year, so look up your company’s policy.

Check out do-it.org or Volunteering Matters if you need some inspiration!

Book It

Hit up your local library for an abundance of free books. And if you don’t want to leave the house, check out Libby, the library app, where you can borrow an ebook for up to three weeks. Close the curtains, light some candles, make a great cup of tea and curl up on the sofa for an evening. Lose yourself in someone else’s adventures and disconnect from technology for a few hours.

Get some sleep

Most experts agree that noone gets enough sleep these days. Go to bed early, or have a lie in at the weekends without feeling guilty.

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