Are your social activities becoming more like chores than stress relievers? Do you dread going to work or school on a regular basis? Or feel exhausted by a friend or colleague who comes to you with daily drama?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you should reevaluate your self-care routine.   

Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness (44.7 million in 2016). Mental illness is caused by a variety of factors, including genetic and environmental factors. Stressful life situations, chronic disease, trauma and unhealthy relationships can trigger mental health issues. 

Self-care is a tool we can use to combat mental illness. And the good news is that you can jump-start your self care journey without breaking the bank. 

Here are some tips for prioritizing self-care on a budget:

  1. 1) Utilize Free Resources

    PHOTO: TEFL Library

What are some things that bring you joy, peace and clarity?

Visit your local library and check out a new book. Libraries often have new releases or top rated books listed in their databases. Block off an evening to pick up a new read and get lost in a good book. 

Listen to a podcast created by your favorite influencers or networks. There are podcasts on numerous topics, including career development, sexual health, lifestyle, race, politics and more. 

Podcasts like Hey, Girl, Black Girl in Om, Short & Sweet Podcast and Tara Brach offer powerful talks and conversations on compassion, sisterhood, adulting and mindfulness. 

Pinpoint what brings you joy and exhaust the free options you have available.

2) Invest in Mental Health Tools

  1. PHOTO: Andrii Kobryn

    There are plenty of self-help resources available on our computers and mobile devices. Shine Text and Headspace are some of my favorite self-care tools. 

Shine Text is a perfect source for early morning motivation. I take a few minutes each morning to read a motivational article on mindfulness, relationships and personal growth. Shine Text helps me set my intentions and start the day with a fresh perspective.

I also use Headspace for midday and evening meditations. I work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and spend the majority of my day assisting people and responding to messages. It is easy to lose sight of my daily goals and intentions if I spend too many hours in work mode. I make time during my workday to clear my mind and reset my intentions. 

There are several tools that are low-cost and easy to incorporate into a routine.

  1. 3) Block off Some Personal Time

PHOTO: Alex Elle

Block off some time for self-preservation. 

Reserve five to 10 minutes each morning and evening for daily affirmations. Affirmations help us to build and maintain a positive self-esteem as individuals. My affirmations remind me of my personal values, self-worth and commitment to love and happiness. I make a commitment to stay away from social media, email and text messages during my daily routines. 

Block off 15 to 30 minutes for exercise a few times a week.  

Try a new class or workshop offered in your community. Groupon offers some discounted rates for fitness classes and experiences. I have tried everything from yoga, to kickboxing and salsa dancing. There are also free classes and routines online. I frequently use workouts from Gym Hooky and Yoga with Adriene

Show up for yourself. Reserve self-care time in the same way that you do for others.

4) Plan a Meet Up

PHOTO: For Harriet

Wishing you had more face-to-face time with girlfriends? Aim to meet up with friends a few times a week.

Schedule dinner with a colleague you haven’t seen in a few months. Get offline and meet with your friends and loved ones in person. 

Plan a day activity with your circle. Pack your bags and head to the local beach or lake. Visit a new hiking trail. Invite your friends over for a movie night or potluck dinner. It's a lot easier to stay on a budget if you pick the venue and activity. Never underestimate the power of good company and strong relationships. 

Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be "selfish." The more you invest in yourself, the more you can invest in others. Place a premium on your life and happiness today. 

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