You can’t read a blog or scroll through Instagram without someone talking about self-care. When you look on social media, you’ll be convinced that you need numerous things to take care of yourself – epsom salts, face masks, essential oils, manicures, massages and even subscription boxes that come with an assortment of self-care things each and every month.

You can essentially buy millions of things that will help you take care of yourself.

On the 9th episode of the SophieThinksThoughts podcast, I talk about the problems I have with self-care. One of the elements we discussed is the fact that self-care is now a multi-billion dollar industry. We’re being sold on the idea that we need things to help ourselves.

But, this isn’t the case.

While the case of self-care being an industry is a whole other story (which I talk about on the podcast here), here are 5 free ways you can care for yourself:

Read Fiction (Young Adult Is My Favourite)

I was never a fiction reader. I didn’t have enough time. If I was going to take the time to read, I needed it to be about self-growth, personal or professional. I read countless books, but they were the furthest thing from relaxing. If anything, they stressed me out. I was never able to read close to bedtime, or I’d lay wide away, unable to sleep.

This summer, Netflix released their Netflix original, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Riley was away for 3 weeks, so I was taking advantage of that time by watching movies I knew he’d never watch with me.

I fell in love. It was the cutest story ever. I had never heard of the books, but I was hooked, and I needed more. I went to the bookstore the next day and got the entire trilogy. I read them within a week.

I found that while reading fiction, particularly young adult, I was able to turn off my mind. It was a relaxing way to take care of myself. I found that the sweet (but somewhat predictable) storylines really helped sooth my busy thoughts.

Reading is a great and inexpensive way to take some time for self-care. While purchasing the books requires money, library cards in most places are free!

Reading a book that’s not about telling you all of the things wrong with you can be a beautiful way to show yourself self-care.

And hey, if epsom salt baths are still your thing, try out reading your book as you soak!  

Guided Breathing + Journal

Would I be Sophie Gray if I didn’t include guided breathing and journaling on this list? As I have talked about hugely, combining guided breathing and journaling saved my life. It’s simple, effective and can help you connect with yourself. Best part? Connecting with yourself is free!

I find that self-care practices are often used as a way to distract yourself. While diffusing essential oils and using face masks can be beautiful ways to care for yourself, there’s usually unprocessed traumas and unfelt feelings that need your attention first. Using guided breathing and journaling as a tool for introspection can help you understand what you’re facing, which then allows your face mask to just be about your face.

Unsure of where to get started? Try answering this question:

How am I doing?

Yup, it seriously is as simple as that.

You could also download the DiveThru app and get started for free by clicking here.

Admit That You’re Not Okay

It’s exhausting to pretend you’re fine all of the time. Life is hard, and it’s okay (and normal) to not be okay. A fantastic way to take care of yourself is by merely admitting you’re not okay. I say simply, but truthfully, it takes a lot of courage to be able to recognize how you genuinely feel.

When I finally faced myself and my feelings, I took the first genuine step to taking care of myself.

Talk With Your Friends Or Family About Your Emotions

As humans, connection is what it’s all about – connection with ourselves and those around us. Beautifully, talking to your friends and family about the way you feel can be a beautiful way to take care of yourself.

After the flight of panic, I had a lot of feelings floating around and having Riley to talk them through with really made a difference.

You may be in a place in your life where you’re out of touch with your family, and don’t have any close relationships. This can actually be a beautiful period in your life for you to work on yourself. Social media can be a beautiful tool to connect with people facing similar things. There’s numerous support groups on Facebook or local meetups you can attend to connect with like-minded people.

Take A Social Media Break

Remember the time where we weren’t always glued to our phones? What did we even do with our times? While stresses and anxieties were a thing even then, social media didn’t add a layer of stress to our days. I find that taking a break from social media can be a beautiful way to take care of yourself.

While these self-care practices are free, it’s not to say that taking a bath with rose petals and a diffuser going is wrong. They’re just not the only ways you can care for yourself.

I want to know, what self-care practices do you love?