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5 Free Self-Care Practices You Can Try Right Now

While retail therapy is a go-to form of self-care for many people (we see you, Leos and Tauruses), some of the best self-care doesn't come with a credit card bill. The most important part of self-care is investing in YOU, and that “investment” can be with your time and energy rather than your hard earned paycheck. 

Here are some of our favorite, zero dollar investments you can make yourself and your self-care today.

1. Creating Routines

When you’re feeling unanchored or stress, having a routine can ground you and give you a support structure. Maybe your routine is a morning practice or a weekly digital yoga class that you try never to miss. Humans are creatures of habit, and having strong routines has been linked to reduced stress, better sleep, and healthier diets. Give yourself time for your routine to set in. As trainer and lawyer Sophia Bernard told us earlier this month: it takes 21 days to make a habit.

2. Taking Breaths

Ok obviously you’re breathing all the time. But taking deep, intentional breaths is one of the most powerful things we can do to nourish our body and root ourselves in the present moment. It’s one of the most often overlooked forms of care, especially in times of stress or anxiety when our “flight or fight” instinct kicks in.

Brooklyn-based acupuncturist and naturopath Dr. Naika recently shared her thoughts with us on the value of deep breaths. "I think there's some magic in taking some really deep breaths in and even longer, deep breaths out," she said. "And if you make it a part of your practice throughout the day, you'll find that you're better able to respond to life's challenges, because you've made yourself the center."

Watch energy healer and founder of Wellness Official Millana Snow give a quick 15-minute primer on breath work meditation, one of the most powerful forms of healing and self-care there is:

3. Journaling

For this one, you might have to spend a few bucks on a journal, but you can create a writing practice and emotional self-care process in your NotesApp, on a Google Doc, or wherever you feel safe and comfortable writing down your thoughts. Journaling isn’t just about recording your memories or expressing yourself creatively; it also helps you manage stressful life experiences better. Studies have shown that people who journal regularly have lower blood pressure, strengthened immune system functioning, better memory, and a greater sense of emotional well-being. Author of Self-Care Check-In GG Renee says that for her, journaling helped her "no longer feel like a victim of life, instead I’ve become a student of life, taking notes, learning life lessons and being creative with what I learn."

4. Taking Walks

Breaking up your day with a walk around your neighborhood is an easy and effective way to add movement to your day and activate your body. But if you can, try to get out and walk in nature every once in a while. Research has shown that walks in nature change blood flow in the brain to a state of relaxation. The sound of wind in leaves or of waves crashing is revitalizing and relaxing. Trees release chemicals that naturally help reduce stress. Solo walks can be powerful moments for clarity, or walks with friends or partners offer an opportunity nourish your mind, body, and spirit with a loved one.

5. Shine App

Shine is a free app created by two women of color that offers tools for coping, processing, and healing on a daily basis. This mobile self-care toolkit was recently named one of the best apps of 2020 by Apple. They offer daily meditations that are updated and kept fresh every single day, an inclusive and supportive community forum, space for reflection and journaling, and more.

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