As you read this, you might be juggling demanding projects at work. Or taking care of young children or relatives in a caregiving capacity. Maybe you are dealing with mental or emotional hurdles that make everyday tasks feel like a victory.
In our hyper-achieving, fast-paced world, mental health is a critical aspect of overall well-being that often takes a backseat. The pressures of everyday life can take a toll on our stability, making it essential to prioritize self-care. But how can we ensure that investing in ourselves doesn’t cause additional financial strain? Let’s explore some strategies for incorporating self-care into our budgets without breaking the bank.
Recognize the Importance of Mental Health in Financial Planning
Financial planning goes beyond numbers and money management apps; it encompasses all aspects of our lives, including our mental well-being. Acknowledging the intersection of mental health and finances is the first step toward building a better work and life balance. When we prioritize self-care, we cultivate emotional resilience and reduce the likelihood of making impulsive financial decisions driven by stress or anxiety.
Assess Your Financial Picture
Before incorporating self-care into your budget, it’s crucial to have clarity around your financial situation. Evaluate your current income, expenses, and savings so that you have a big picture view of where you may be able to make financial adjustments that can benefit you. Is there a small percentage of your paycheck that can be directed toward a self-care fund every month? Or discretionary spending categories you could afford to trim back on to free up some additional cash?
Define Your Self-Care Priorities
Self-care means different things to different people. Take the time to identify self-care activities that promote your mental well-being and make you feel good. It could be practicing mindfulness, engaging in hobbies, attending therapy sessions, or starting a class that provides a creative or physical outlet. These activities, while they may seem frivolous, contribute to your overall health and happiness, and deserve a place in your budget.
Allocate a Self-Care Budget
Once you have defined your self-care priorities, allocate a specific portion of your budget to support them. View self-care as a necessary expense rather than an indulgence. This budget allocation demonstrates your commitment to nurturing your mental health. Start small if necessary—even if it’s just $25 to $100 a month—and consider gradually increasing the amount over time as your financial situation allows.
Research Affordable Self-Care Options
Self-care might conjure visions of luxury or indulgence, but the reality is that small investments can pay off in big ways. Research and explore affordable or free self-care options that align with your interests and values. For example, instead of costly spa treatments, you could create a relaxing self-care routine at home with inexpensive bath products, candles, and music. Or explore local workshops or community recreation center course offerings that typically cost less than private courses.
Practice Mindful Spending
We live in a society that often bombards us with consumeristic messaging: buy this and feel better! Buy this and look better! Make a conscientious decision to filter out the noise and incorporate mindfulness into your financial decisions. Before making impulsive purchases, ask yourself: does this align with my self-care goals and priorities? In practicing mindful spending, you can redirect your financial resources toward activities that genuinely promote mental health and avoid wasteful expenditures.
Seek Low-Cost or Free Mental Health Resources
In addition to budgeting for self-care activities, tap into low-cost or free mental health resources. Research online or local peer support groups or counseling services at no cost or a reduced cost proportionate to your current income. If you have insurance coverage through your employer, you may be able to connect with community clinics offering affordable options (many traditional plans may not cover counseling so this might require a little extra research).
Reach out for Help
If finances are preventing you from prioritizing your mental health, you are not alone. Consider connecting with our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness and their team of caring NFCC-certified counselors if you’re experiencing stressful situations related to your finances. They can help you create a realistic budget that aligns with your self-care goals and allows you to immerse yourself in some quality “me-time.” Reach out today at: 866-471-0840.