Make the world your yoga mat. Photo via Brooklyn Bridge Parents

Self-care has entered the Zeitgeist yet again, which means that in these dire times people are remembering to be empathetic. Seriously though, neuroscientists now link the center of the brain that controls empathy with the center that controls self-discipline. The theory being, we are taking a moment to walk in the shoes of our future self, doing what would be chillest for them. Every social justice warrior is realizing you have to literally pick your battles, and you’re not a spineless snowflake if you disengage to recharge. You’re a jacked AF snowflake, in my personal opinion.

Self-care is natural and ancient, and even good old Lucy the australopithecine was probably drinking ginger tea and doing sun salutations. In the history of our species, holistic medicines and mindfulness practices excessively predate the rise of the kale smoothie. Language was literally developed to pass on trendy new self-care tips.

That said, your impulse may be to buy a month at a fancy yoga studio or go full on Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle and buy everything in the mall. But for real though, “consumerism masked as wellness” is not self-care. You need not be bougie to be good to yourself. We cannot trust solely in “restores everything goop” we were tricked into buying on Goop.

Now while it’s totally important to abstain from certain negative habits in the name of self-care (I’m looking at you, all social media platforms/apps, booze, Netflix, and retail therapy), I’m gonna focus more on positive additions to our journey that we can make room for, depending on how close we are to pay day.

FREE self-care options

Meditation
It may come as a chakra to some, but our energetic bodies are usually out of whack. Whether you’re hunched over a desk to crunch data or standing all day, old school mantra chanting has been studied to reduce stress, improve self-awareness and happiness, even slow the affects of aging while bolstering your immune system. Wait until your roommates are out and about, or invite them to join you in one of my fave mediation series from the interwebs. As George Takes would say: ohm, my!

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Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe. Oh, Prospect Park. Stay green, baby. Photo via NYC Parks
Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe. Oh, Prospect Park. Stay green, baby. Photo via NYC Parks

Walk it out
If dogs need to be walked three times a day, goodness knows we should be walking ourselves more. Pick a park or green space near you, and make it a point to find one time a day to walk there for at least 30 minutes, apart from regular cardio exercise and do it RAIN OR SHINE. My mom, who is retired now, simply takes a walk around the block three times a day. Research shows that walking 30 minutes daily not only has health benefits, but bolsters creativity and encourages goal completion.

30 day yoga challenge
Now that yoga as a trend-exercise is over, come back to your mat or blanket or whatever you got at home. I love Yoga with Adriene’s 31 day Revolution series, the videos are quick and suitable for all ability levels, and Adriene is the appropriate mix of knowledgable and humorous. Having a daily ritual, and a short term goal for one month, are a great way to both remember to self-care daily and set you up for continued self-care success.

Not free but cheap

Respect the craft
Target your local dollar store – or your local Target – and find a puzzle or coloring book or some pipe cleaners and get crafty. Crafting has been shown to release dopamine in the brain, so be careful this may be the next gateway drug. As someone who has a children’s craft table from IKEA instead of a coffee table, I’m a huge fan of anything childlike as a self-care tactic.

From Coloring for Grownups
From Coloring for Grownups

Be a fitness alien
If you haven’t caught the space shuttle to Planet Fitness or any similarly low-cost gymnasium du jour, hurry up because the Russians are outflanking us. I won’t bore you with the obvious benefits of regular exercise, but what so many people I know pay crazy sums for: a personal trainer or class-centered experience. I have used both a personal trainer and been to classes at my gym, it only costs me $10/month, and now I’m ripped AF. P.S. Don’t google image search me…

You made rent! Reward yourself my making your own goddamn dinner
If you invest the time spent browsing delivery apps to browse recipe blogs, I promise your wallet and your brain will thank you. Cooking at home – even if you’re starting off with microwave-only skills – will make you feel accomplished and magical. Joining a co-op might be the easiest way to get high quality groceries on the cheap, but even a stop to the C Town can save you a buck and set you up for success with a home-cooked meal.

Treat yo self

There’s the rub
The reality is, you can save your paycheck for the rent and still have a nice massage or simple beauty treatment. In the LES, there’s an amazing massage place I’ve been going to for years called Wu Lim Qi Gong Master, and they give you a no-nonsense, fully-clothed rub down. That way, if you’re pinching pennies and need some muscle relaxation, never fear.

Therapy
In today’s world, social media has seen a huge decline of puppy videos, and various other world phenomena are also causing me great agita. While some find their release in carafes of mimosas and spilt tea, processing my life with a non-judgmental, non-agenda-having outside party instead has never felt more important. Check out my article for tips on affordable therapy in Brooklyn.

Retreat to move forward
Sometimes, the Brooklyn bubble all feels like too much. You don’t even have to turn on a television or log onto your Facebook before you’re overwhelmed with negative news and photos of a protest you didn’t even hear about before it happened. You might be asking yourself: “Am I resisting resistance?” The other week with that ringing in my ears, I found the cheapest closest AirBnb out of town on the Hudson and walked through mountains post-blizzard with a friend and we sang every Disney song we could remember at the top of our lungs. It felt great, and in the end it really helped increase my resistance.

There's more to New York than the city – upstate, there are trees! And sky! Photo via Flickr
There’s more to New York than the city – upstate, there are trees! And sky! Photo via Flickr

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