“Wellness” has become something of a loaded term – whereas once we associated it with sleep, good food and a healthy dose of exercise, it’s now more often used to describe habits of the fitness elite, pastimes which are inaccessible to many of us.
This weekend, a feature in the Times describing four people’s daily routines went viral, thanks to their Gwyneth Paltrow-esque takes on wellness. Their schedules – featuring hyperbaric oxygen therapy, quartz crystals and an endless list of supplements – sounded exhausting, let alone expensive.
And while we’re big believers in the mantra “you do you”, when it comes to self-care, there’s nothing calming about bankrupting yourself.
With that in mind, here are six back-to-basics ideas to help you improve your wellbeing for free in 2019 – no daily PH urine test in sight.
[Read More: How To Practise Self-Care In 2019 For A Happier You]
1. Try Online Yoga.
There are hundreds of yoga YouTube tutorials online, meaning you can get all the benefits of the class, without the expensive fees.
Author Matt Haig previously told HuffPost UK whenever things get too much, he fires up his laptop, rolls out his yoga mat and begins 20 minutes of stretching and deep breathing.
“If I’m in an anxious patch, I do it every day,” he said. “Anxiety will tighten your chest, it’ll hunch your shoulders, and yoga reverses all that.”
2. Keep A Journal.
Spending 20 minutes a day jotting down positive experiences and thoughts – “anything from being moved by a good book, painting or piece of music, to falling in love” – may be enough to decrease stress levels, according to a study from Northumbria University.
If you’re feeling extra crafty, you could try your hand at bullet journalling, like HuffPost’s Amy Packham. “Bullet journalling is great for organising, it’s great to plan ahead and get your head sorted on daily tasks you have to get done,” she wrote in a blog. “But for me, it’s so much more than that. It’s a place to self-reflect, to create, to be mindful and to completely switch off.”
Treat yourself to some lust-worthy stationery on your next pay day, but until then get going for free with a good, old-fashioned pen and paper.
3. Go For A Lunchtime Walk.
Regular walking is proven to reduce your risk of multiple chronic illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, asthma, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. What’s more, it can also improve your mood and reduce your risk of depression, according to the NHS.
It’s easy to slip into the habit of eating lunch at your desk, but try to resist. Going outside for a brisk walk around the block is not only a great form of self-care, it could also increase your productivity for the afternoon.
[Read More: Why I Don’t Buy Into The Wellness Industry]
4. Take Time Out To Read.
Studies have found regular readers tend to be less lonely and reading groups can provide a route out of social isolation for those who are particularly susceptible to loneliness. Reading is also said to boost sleep, as the trend for sleep apps and bedtime stories for adults shows.
Support your local library, save money and reduce your impact on the planet by borrowing books rather than buying them new or chat to mates and colleagues about book swaps.
5. Learn To Meditate.
Meditating reverses the effect that stress or anxiety has on the body, according to a 2017 study from the University of Coventry. Try downloading a guided meditation app for free (just search the app store) – even some of the most popular apps, such as Headspace, have free trials.
‘Strictly Come Dancing’ host Tess Daly told HuffPost UK she uses guided meditation apps with soothing music to relax after the live shows.
“When I get in from presenting on a studio floor with a live audience, that adrenaline is still surging through my system and you can’t just switch it off immediately,” she said. “So it’s quite nice that I’ve got something I can go to that can ease me into a calmer mode and being ready for sleep.”
6. Give Gardening A Go.
Gardening can help improve our mood and even combat stress, anxiety and depression, according to a study. The research found 80% of gardeners feel satisfied with their lives compared to 67% for non-gardeners – and 93% of gardeners think the hobby improves their mood. Let’s not forget, a spot of weeding can be quite a workout.
Mat Rosendale, from London Fire Brigade, told HuffPost UK gardening on the rooftop of Brixton Fire Station helps him cope with the stresses of the job. “That 10 minutes sat quietly in the garden helps me to recharge my batteries and clear my thoughts,” he said. “It gets me through the day.”
You might need to spend a few pennies on pots and seeds to get things going, unless you have a green-fingered friend who can supply some clippings, then it’s totally free.