I am ecstatic about the increasing popularity of self-care amongst people my age. Upon searching the Instagram hashtag, my phone screen immediately became engulfed with images of Ghiradelli truffles, avocado face masks, Lush bath bombs, and self-gifted bouquets. And while these are, without doubt, completely valid methods of self-care, spending exorbitant amounts of money on tangible items is simply not feasible for a lot of people. The marketization of self-care has caused many people who can't afford these things to feel like they're falling behind in that regard, and that does not have to be the case. Here are five simple, effective, and practical ways to "treat yo' self" without breaking the bank:

1. Read!


Meditative, enriching, and fun, reading is one of the most effective cost-free alternatives to more mainstream self-care practices. By reading, you allow yourself to surrender your worries for a moment and relax into a new narrative, free of any problems you may be facing in your own life, even if only for a short time. With this, reading is known to lower blood pressure, improve sleep quality, and even prevent diseases like Alzheimer's! And the best part? Your options are quite literally endless! The abundance of free reading materials on the internet alone is, quite honestly, baffling. So whether you enjoy the likes of J.K. Rowling or Mark Twain, everyone can reap the benefits of reading as a form of self-care.

2. Write!


We carry so many things around in our heads and stuff so many feelings to the backs of our minds, not realizing how heavy they are until we can no longer handle them. Schedule out time for a weekly (or biweekly, or even daily...whatever you need) 'brain dump', where the paper becomes your dumping ground for everything you've been trying to sort through in your head, but just can't seem to. Feeling overwhelmed? Write it down. Need some clarity? Write it down. Not sure where to go next? Write it down. The simple act of transferring thoughts from your head to a tangible piece of paper can provide the same sense of relief and grounding that we're all seeking when we take to more costly methods of self-care...and it's free.

3. Go outside!


I may be a bit biased, as I grew up with a pond full of koi fish and a bamboo forest in my backyard. However, I find that no matter where I am, getting outside works WONDERS for me when I'm in need of a reset. There's a certain comfort that comes with the sensation of wind on your skin and the chirping of birds. Not to mention the fact that vitamin D (provided to us via the sun's rays) acts as a natural mood booster! So get out there, get some fresh air, and possibly a fresh outlook. It's free!

4. Call someone you love.

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Oftentimes, when we're overwhelmed, we think we MUST seek solitude to give ourselves room to perform self-care. This is, of course, completely valid, and oftentimes necessary. However, I often find that opening myself up to the company of others, specifically those I love, really helps ground me and raise my spirits when I need it most. So call your mother. Or your brother, or your cousin, or your friend. Letting other people love you is a form of self-care, and it won't cost you a dime.

5. Just take a nap.


If you're alive in today's society, you're probably exhausted. Sleep has become such a valuable commodity, taking the time to put everything else aside and rest is a treat in itself. Allow yourself an hour or two (or three...no judgment) to rest and decompress. You'd be surprised how much something as simple as sleep can help you reach a state of sound mind and spirit, and give you the physical energy to practice other kinds of self-care. So, grab your good pillow, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, and get some sleep. You will thank yourself for it (and so will your wallet).