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The term “self-care” has gained massive momentum lately, seeping out of holistic health circles and into popular culture. Celebs like Selena Gomez and Solange Knowles tout its importance, and the hashtag #SelfCareSunday shows up weekly on lots of Instagram and Twitter feeds.
Not familiar with it? Self-care is just what the name implies: prioritizing your emotional, mental and physical well-being — aka putting “you” first. But some people find setting aside time for themselves to be too indulgent, let alone setting aside funds. We think embracing self-care can really pay off when it comes to your overall health, and certain small splurges are worth the time and money, like these.
1. Relax With Guided Meditation
Meditation is finally shedding its new-age image and gaining mass appeal, and science suggests why: One study review concluded that mindfulness meditation helped to reduce anxiety and depression. Another study found that just a few weeks of meditation helped people concentrate better.
But since it can be tough to get into the meditation habit on your own and start reaping the benefits, meditation studios are popping up across the country. Think of them as gyms for your brain, offering instructors and a sense of community, says Jennifer Louden, author of "The Woman's Comfort Book: A Self-Nurturing Guide for Restoring Balance in Your Life."
Meditation studio fees depend on where you live. New York City's popular MNDFL studio has classes starting at just $10. If you’d rather meditate from the comfort of your own home, try an app like Headspace; a yearly subscription breaks down at $7.99 a month and gives you access to additional guided meditations (these "guide" you through the practice and to a place of relaxation and peace) beyond the 10 available in the free version of the app.
2. Treat Yourself to Organic Food
While the only difference you may have noticed between organic and regular foods is that one costs more, recent research suggests there are health benefits to eating organically (meaning a product hasn't been grown using pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones, among other regulations set by the USDA). A 2016 study analysis discovered that organic milk is higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and a 2014 review concluded that organic crops had more antioxidants.
As much as you want to treat yourself to health-boosting nutrients, it can be hard to shell out extra cash for foods sporting the "USDA Organic" seal. Buying them in bulk, however, can help stretch your dollar. If you can’t swing a completely organic diet, try working more organic products into your meals. Nonprofit advocacy organization the Environmental Working Group suggests going organic with foods they've labeled the “dirty dozen” because the regular versions are high in pesticides while sticking to non-organic varieties of the “clean 15,” which boast lower pesticide levels.
3. Keep a Cleaning Company on Speed Dial
Research has linked clutter to feelings of stress, distraction and restlessness. One 2016 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology suggests that disorderly living spaces have a negative effect on a person's psychological well-being. If your weekends are routinely eaten up by housework, outsourcing your cleaning is a worthy self-care splurge.
"Part of the question is asking yourself what this splurge enables you to do so that you can be a whole, happy human being," says Louden. "If you need Sunday to, say, be with the kids, or get a good run in, or lay in bed with the newspaper, it can really set you up mentally for the week ahead."
HomeAdvisor puts the average price of maid service at about $166 per cleaning, but prices can vary a lot depending on where you live and how big your space is. Call or look around online, and if it turns out that your budget doesn't allow for a weekly professional scrubbing, lower the cost by doing it less frequently, say for a once-a-month deep clean.
4. Soothe Yourself With Massage
A rubdown on the regular sounds like the ultimate indulgence. But the pros who give them are called massage therapists for a reason. Massage has been linked to lots of health advantages, from easing pain to reducing depression. And even if you're not looking for a body benefit, it's a soothing way to relax and recharge — which is what self-care is all about.
The average price for a session is about $60 per hour, but many spas, such as national chain Massage Envy, offer a discount if you opt for a membership. And since massage has those health benefits, it might be covered at least in part by your health insurance plan.
5. Go on a Solo Adventure
No, we're not talking about an "Eat, Pray, Love"-style journey. But a getaway as simple as a staycation at a local hotel or bed-and-breakfast will do the trick. The whole idea is to disconnect from your usual routine of deadlines, household responsibilities and screen addiction and reconnect with yourself.
"The point is that during that time, you just do what you want," says Louden. "Many of us spend our lives going from one to-do to the next, whipping ourselves through our day. A solo trip can be incredibly enlivening and enlightening, and even frustrating and scary — but it's a powerful way to recharge."