How to implement self-care when you’re stressed and broke
Throughout the past few years, I faced quite a few trials – an abusive marriage, homelessness, paralysis, multiple surgeries, child custody etc. Sometimes I was great with self-care, other times not so much. When I wasn’t, everything else in my life suffered. This year, I decided to dedicate the year to myself and focus on self-care. It has been incredible, more affordable than most think and changed everything.
Too often we put ourselves last. Our kids get everything they need, if we are going through custody all our money goes to that and if we are in a relationship, their needs come before ours. Over the past 18 months, I have done a lot of healing, learning and implementing. Here are my tips for self-care on a budget, during obstacles.
This post contains affiliate links to products and services which helped me and I use.
1. Get To Know Yourself
Early last year my on again off again boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me and this time we were done. It was a shock at first but I took it as an opportunity to learn more about myself. I decided not to be in a relationship (I dated a little and each time bailed real quick!) and instead, focused on myself.
When I stepped back and analysed everything I saw how unhealthy our relationship was and went from there. Learning more about codependent relationships, alcoholism, confidence and what I really wanted in life made me realise I had lost myself completely in this relationship. Him breaking up with me was the best thing he has ever done for my daughters and me.
Books I read which helped
To learn more about myself, when I had a realisation about something, I read more on that topic.
Women Who Love Too Much – I have recommended this to so many women. It is too easy for us to take on everything, try to fix or heal people and end up burnt.
Loving An Addict, Loving Yourself – even though my relationship was over, learning about addictions and how it impacted my daughter and me, going to some meetings for families of alcoholics and similar helps immensely.
The Big Leap – I’ve read this 3 times now and get more from it each time. I have Upper Limited myself many times and now I am more aware, life is changing at a rapid pace.
Unleash Your Inner Money Babe – another book I have read repeatedly. Each time I do, more money flows. It is a 21 day challenge that will open your eyes!
2. Visualise Where You Want To Be
Have a really clear vision in your mind you can draw on when needed. For me, I knew I wanted full custody, protection order and for us to be able to travel. After going on my favourite trip ever, I had it. There is a particular place called Mane Bay. Whenever court and stress got overwhelming this year or I began to worry I wouldn’t get full custody, I brought this place to my mind. Here, at Mane Bay, the villagers come out in their canoes, everyone plays in the water and I could see my kids there playing with the others. Swimming, jumping, laughing. I stand at the dive deck and watch them. That was my vision, my peaceful moment that helped ground and focus me.
You need something you can use at any time to take your mind off the awfulness of what you are going through. This image I used in my mind was real because I had been there and I knew once we got custody, we’d go there.
3. Keep Healthy
When going through custody, my stress levels meant I was unhealthy. I got to a weight I did not want to be but no matter how much I worked out and watched my eating, nothing helped. Despite that, I focused on eating healthy, getting sleep where possible (insomnia was common) and remaining active.
Being healthy and active was not always easy when I was stressed out. Find activities you enjoy, it doesn’t have to be the gym. Running, yoga, dance, team sports, anything is good. When it comes to food, it’s not a reward. Ice cream and other junk won’t make you feel better long term. Even though many of us have been conditioned to reach for certain foods when we are stressed or upset, this isn’t a good strategy. Learn more about food and eat the way that works best for you.
For me, that means a mainly vegetarian diet which is also gluten and dairy free. Sugar is kept to a minimum and I drink mainly water, herbal teas or kombucha.
4. Reward Yourself
Whenever I discuss finances, I stress the importance of having a little of your own money. For years I have recommended 10% of your income be yours to do whatever you want with. Maybe that amount is too high for you right now. That’s ok, pick an amount that suits you. Have an account that money goes into and use it for whatever you want.
One of my big mistakes when going through this whole process was putting aside all my money for court. At some point, I’d snap and spend. More often than not it wasn’t a huge deal but a few times I felt extremely guilty. This year, I made sure to stick to my own advice and have done so much better. Being focused is good, having something for yourself is important too. Check out how to get the money for court.
If you want a nap, take it (provided the kids are taken care of). So many times I reached the point of exhaustion, especially as it got closer to court dates. There were nights and days where I got no sleep. In fact, there were a few where I was up for 48 to 56 hours straight. At this point, I didn’t drive or cook because I was concerned my body would collapse and felt it wasn’t safe. This is not healthy, you cannot function this way, your body needs rest.
I was so wired even sleeping tablets didn’t help. Get rest when you can. You need it. When going through obstacles we are on high alert, in survival mode. So if at some point in the middle of the day you feel the need for a nap, take it and do not feel guilty!
6. Create A List Of Things For You!
That’s what the year of me was about, creating a list of things I want to do, then actively doing them! Within the first 6 months of the year, I got my diving certification, had 2 overseas trips for work, learnt some dance and read books from my list. Having that list and a focus on myself enabled me to be calmer, focused and a better mother.
During this time, while doing things I wanted to do, court fell into place as well. I got custody and the protection order. Ultimately, a lot of time is spent waiting for court dates, so fill that time with things you enjoy.