mental health

Health & Beauty, Life & Style

18 Free Self-Care Ideas for a Covid Winter

free self-care ideas during covid

Winter is coming. Here is a whole host of free self-care ideas for you to help look after yourself this coming winter.

With winter on it’s way, and with Covid restrictions still in place, impacting on the things we can do and the people we can visit, it’s imperative that we look after ourselves more than ever. With finances especially tight for many of us, the question is how do we invest in self-care without spending money that we don’t really have?

It’s easy to feel that self-care is expensive. We’re constantly bombarded by newspapers, magazines, and influencers telling us that the only way to look after ourselves properly is to spend money on spa treatments, expensive moisturisers, cashmere socks, fancy candles, and other luxuries. Capitalism says do self-care any other way and you’re doing it wrong.

free self-care ideas covid winter

18 No-Cost / Free Self-Care Ideas

The truth is there are heaps of ways to look after yourself without buying anything. I’ve set out some free self-care ideas below, which may or may not work for you depending on your circumstances. I’d also love to hear your free self-care suggestions too.

1.Try and Make Space for the Basics

Depending on how you are feeling, some days it can be too tricky to even make space for the basics in life. Brushing your teeth or having a shower can feel like mountains that need climbing, but it’s an important aspect in self-care that you always feel better for doing it.

2. Unfollow Social Media Accounts That Make You Feel Bad

Instagram can sometimes make you feel like everyone else has this glossy amazing life, full of the latest ‘must-have’ stuff. I recommend unfollowing or muting accounts that make you feel inadequate, or make you feel like you need to constantly buy stuff to keep up.

The same with Facebook. If you have friends or family members that again, make you feel inadequate, then you can quietly unfollow them. They won’t get a notification saying that you have unfollowed them, and you’ll still be on their friends list, avoiding social drama.

3. Reconsider Your Morning/Evening Scroll Habit

Do you have a habit of scrolling social media or the news when you wake up, or before you go to bed? I know I do. Reading something awful before I get up for the day or just before bed sets me up badly for the rest of the day, or is a recipe for a poor nights sleep. As an act of free self-care, I am working on establishing new morning and bedtime routines, to stop me doing this.

4. Make Sure You Get Outside at Least Once a Day

If you’re working from home it can be incredibly easy to go for days without leaving the house. And if you working outside the home, it’s equally easy to go from home, to your car, and into your workplace, and back without ever really spending time outdoors.

I feel better when I get outside at least once a day, preferably for a walk, but even if it is just to stand outside for 10 minutes to get some fresh air and to clear my head.

5. Drink More Water

Hands up if you’re drinking enough water? Hands up if you are really drinking enough water? The NHS recommends drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day (about 1.2 litres). If you have a water bottle, keep it to hand throughout the day, otherwise, try setting regular reminders on your phone to drink a glass of water.

6. Investigate Free Exercise Options

Exercise doesn’t have to cost anything. I’m not a very sporty person, so my exercise of choice is walking. I’ve downloaded a free app on my phone called Pacer, and use that to track my steps. I aim for 10,000 steps a day to get the burst of confetti that Pacer rewards you with when you do over 10,000 in a day. What can I say, I’m a sucker for things like that! To meet my target I do a mix of walking outdoors and doing steps indoors. If you don’t feel safe walking outdoors alone in your neighbourhood, you could pair up with a friend, or do your steps indoors.

You can also use Pacer for running or jogging if walking is too slow-paced for you.

If walking isn’t your bag then there are a host of free exercise options. On YouTube, you can find a huge array of free exercise videos – from high-intensity cardio to yoga, Pilates, and more.

7. Get To Grips With Your Bank Account

Something I’ve learned this year is that financial wellness equals physical and mental wellness. I’ve also learned that financial wellness doesn’t mean zero debt, a large income, and a hefty savings fund, for I have none of these, but just being on top of your finances. Knowing what’s coming in, no matter how little, and what is going out, no matter how large, is a lot less stressful than occasionally glancing at your online banking and hoping for the best. I would say it’s one of the really key free self-care ideas.

The easiest entry point to financial wellness is to sit down and go through your bank statements and look at all of your direct debits. If you haven’t looked for a while, there may be things that you didn’t realise you were paying for, like subscriptions you forgot to cancel. Cancelling them is a great way to start making inroads into feeling more on top of your finances.

8. Make A Budget

The next step in financial wellness is making a budget and sticking to it. It sounds dry, it sounds boring, and maybe it doesn’t sound like a great free self-care idea. However, if you are used to financially winging it every month, then I promise that giving every penny that enters your bank account a job is completely life-changing. You can find some great tips on non-scary ways to make a budget online.

Meanwhile, Clare Seal from My Frugal Year has loads of great tips on her Instagram on budgeting, tackling emotional spending, paying off debt, and more. Clare is also the author of the book Real Life Money: An Honest Guide to Taking Control of Your Finances* which is well worth borrowing from your local library.

9. Ignore the Avalanche of Adverts for Leisurewear and Edit Your Own Wardrobe.

Retailers are really pushing advertising for leisurewear as many office workers continue to work from home. I say ignore these adverts and make your existing wardrobe work for you.

Pull out all of your clothes from your wardrobe and put to the side the clothes that no longer fit you, that are uncomfortable to wear, or that you just don’t feel good wearing. Only add the clothes that make you feel good back into your wardrobe, so that every day you aren’t faced with reminders of poor purchasing decisions or annoyance that the things you want to wear don’t fit you.

10. Have An Audit of Your Food Cupboards

You might be wondering why this is on a list of free self-care ideas, but the thing is I always feel on top of things when my food cupboards are organised. Take everything out, wipe down your cupboards, and compost anything that is well past its expiry date. If something is not long past its best before date, then it might be ok to eat – use your sense of smell and judge it on how it looks before deciding to eat it.

If there is anything unopened that you know you aren’t going to eat but is still within date, try offering it to someone through the Olio food-sharing app. Or, if it’s something that your local food bank is in need of (here is what goes into a typical food parcel) then do donate it there. Food banks are preparing for their busiest winter yet, so everything that you donate helps a family in need.

Next put everything that you are going to keep back in, putting the foods due to expire first at the front, so that you help avoid food waste.

11. Book Your Flu Jab

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine but haven’t booked it yet, then just book your flu vaccine. With Covid-19 circulating at the same time as the flu, it is more important than ever to get vaccinated this year, so make this your free self-care priority.

12. Schedule Those Appointments

Similar to the flu jab, if you’ve been putting off a doctor’s appointment, or a dental check-up then book it now. Nothing makes you feel like you are on top of things than being on top of life admin.

13. Join Your Local Library

It’s free and local libraries are amazing places – giving you access to a whole host of books and services. Whilst you may not feel comfortable perusing the shelves at the moment, most libraries have their entire catalogue online, and offer a click and collect service.

Many libraries now also offer a huge selection of digital magazines in almost every genre. Access them on your phone, tablet, or PC, all at no charge, and cancel those pricey magazine subscriptions.

14. Re-read a Favourite Book

Resist the urge to buy yourself a new book. Instead, re-read one of your favourite books – one that makes you feel good every time you turn a page. The book I turn to again and again is this one* – the writing is nothing short of magic.

15. Swap Books With a Friend

Whilst restrictions mean we can’t meet up with friends and family as we would like, one way to stay close is to share books with a friend. Swap your favourite book with each other, have a read, and then get together over Zoom or over the phone and chat about them. Think of it as a mini book club.

16. Go Down a Youtube Tutorial Wormhole

Maybe you’re like me, and have some makeup items that you don’t really use, or know how to apply properly. Want to learn how to do eyeliner properly? I know I do – once I learn that I know I’ll feel like I have mastered life. Let’s do this!

17. Beat Boredom

We’ve spent a lot of time outdoors throughout the spring, summer, and autumn this year, but winter in Scotland is a different beast. Even with the right clothing, it’s not always conducive to being outdoors. With many indoor activities that we would normally do closed for now, planning free activities we can do indoors from home to keep boredom at bay is key.

Many museums and galleries are offering free online tours. Earlier in lockdown I discovered free online jigsaws, and free drawing tutorials on YouTube. We’ve watched free gigs online (this Talking Heads one is a classic). Here are some more ideas if none of these are up your street.

18. Ask For Help If You Need It

Finally, I think the single most important aspect in self-care is asking for help if you need it.

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, you might be able to ask your mortgage provider for a mortgage holiday, or you can ask your creditors for payment holidays or reduced interest rates. It is also worth checking if there are any benefits you may be eligible for.

If you are struggling mentally, and constantly feeling that you are wading through treacle, then scheduling an appointment with your doctor is really important.

What are your best free self-care ideas and tips? Do share in the comments below!

Families, Whole Family

Why Eco Perfectionism Is a Myth We Need To Let Go Of

Have you heard of the term ‘Eco Perfectionism’? Maybe you haven’t but you might understand the concept. Put simply, it’s the idea that you can only take part in the sustainability movement if you’re living an environmentally flawless life.

My personal feeling on eco-perfectionism is that it’s one of the biggest barriers to getting people to take more sustainable steps in their lives. Who wants to make a change to their life, for fear of getting it wrong? For people on social media to tell you just how wrong you are? And how do we encourage people to take part in a movement when people seem so quick to tear people down, rather than build them up?

Progress, Not Eco-Perfection

Image of notebook and pencils with blue text box that says why eco-perfectionism is a myth that we need to let go of.

Something I think about a lot is the old adage, ‘Progress Not Perfection’. As such I’ve come to think that sustainability should have a tagline. You know, how you would describe sustainability to someone you met in an elevator, with only limited time to get your point across. Progress, not perfection would fit perfectly. And even better – progress, not eco-perfection.

It’s getting this message across that is the problem.

I’ve found when you push your head above the crowd, and blog about sustainability or share something on social media people assume that you’re some kind of eco-perfectionist. My own experience of blogging about sustainable living has shown me how some people are quick to criticise. I often get the old chestnut “how dare you write about X, Y, or Z on a site called MORAL FIBRES”. Moral Fibres in capitals.

I mean, first of all, on my about page, I straight up state that I’m not perfect. I mean, no one is because it is simply not possible to be perfect. Not in any aspect of sustainability. This is because everything we do has an impact. We can try and minimise that impact according to our own individual ethics, but ultimately there are trade-offs in any aspect of sustainability. There is no such thing as eco-perfectionism.

Sustainability Is About Nuance and Individual Circumstances

the problem with eco perfectionism

Take animal products, for example. Leather and wool are both derived from livestock rearing, which has impacts on the environment. Vegan leather, however, is a virgin plastic derived from fossil fuels. It contributes to climate change, which harms all animals and humans. It’s also nowhere near as durable.

Meanwhile, acrylic fleece jumpers are also made from fossil fuels. They shed microplastics into our oceans every time they are washed. Even ones made from recycled plastic bottles.

There are trade-offs and choices to be made, with no perfect choice, save to only buy second-hand everything ever. This often isn’t a practical or accessible choice to everyone so we make tradeoffs based on our own individual internal values. Eco-perfection simply doesn’t exist in this situation.

There’s No One Way to Be Sustainable

And that’s the thing with the sustainability movement. Sustainability doesn’t look a certain way. There’s no one way to be sustainable. Everyone has to make choices according to their own lives, values, circumstances, barriers, and privileges. It can’t be prescriptive.

We, therefore, cannot make judgements about how anyone approaches sustainability, because we don’t the ins and outs of a person’s individual circumstances, values, barriers, privileges, and nuances. Nuances such as when plastic-free isn’t always best for the environment.

Shouting at people and telling them that they’re doing it wrong is neither helpful nor does it engender people to environmentalism. All it does is tell people that there’s no room for individual circumstances.

We’re Not Born Experts

What eco-perfectionism also does is tell people that there’s no room for trying, learning, or growing. However, we’re not born experts. There needs to be space in the movement for people to try, learn, make mistakes, and try again.

Shouting people down when they make mistakes means they don’t progress to the trying again stage. They’re made to think environmentalism isn’t for them. Shouting at people on the internet or in real life achieves nothing. Instead, stop and think about what you could say that could offer encouragement. Or decide if it’s best to say anything at all. Sometimes saying nothing is the most useful thing to do.

Final Thoughts On Eco-Perfectionism

Eco-perfectionism, and the quest for it, is a sure-fire way to burn out or develop eco-anxiety.

It’s difficult to aim for perfection, and we can put people off our mission if we’re too over-zealous.  However, if we aim to be imperfect environmentalists, then we might just encourage more imperfect environmentalists to join our cause. After all, as Anne-Marie Bonneau says – “we don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”