If you're under stress, self-care is essential. Here are 5 ways to do it on a budget.

Self-care has become a trend across internet media in the past few years. But here's the problem: It's inaccessible for a lot of people.

Yes, self-care is a super-important and essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s backed up by science, doctors recommend it (in fact, doctors themselves should do it!), and, frankly, it's hard to fault taking care of yourself.

So what's the hang-up? Most resources on the topic are targeted toward people who have time and money to spend on self-care. For people in lower income brackets, it’s understandably very frustrating to feel like self-care relies on your ability to pick up a glittery bath bomb at the mall.


We can't all be you, my friend. Image via iStock.

It’s doubly upsetting because self-care is even more important for people who experience high stress levels for long periods of time. People who are most at risk for burnout are the ones who need self-care and preventive health care the most. Research shows that family caregivers are at a much higher risk for depression, alcoholism, and chronic illness when they attend to the needs of others at the expense of their own.

The good news is that self-care — real self-care, not the superficial trend — isn't about money. It's about prioritizing and setting boundaries.

Self-care isn't a specific set of activities like massages, manicures, or other seemingly luxurious expenses. It's about doing what's necessary in order to prioritize your needs above others' wants.

Audre Lorde said it best: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation."

So it may not be feasible to come home from work and spend loads of time and cash on setting up an at-home spa. But taking a little time to do what makes you feel good and keeping an eye on indicators of your health such as blood pressure, Body Mass Index (BMI), cholesterol, and blood sugar is essential to keeping you healthy and, in turn, keeping everyone that you care for healthy, too.

You can do plenty of self-care at the dollar store: pick up some bubble bath, light a cheap candle, or treat yourself to a new nail color. Image via iStock.

Here are five ways to prioritize self-care on a low salary:

1. Work in teams.

When you work full time (or even more than that) and are supporting a family, it can be nearly impossible to get even a moment alone. So work in teams — coordinate with your spouse, siblings, coworkers, friends, and community to help you arrange some free time. Offer to watch another mom's kids in exchange for a night off next week. Even as little as an hour can rejuvenate you.

2. Focus on intention, not luxury.

The thing that makes self-care valuable isn't how much it costs — it's about making a plan to do something for you and following through. Pick something that you do already and find a way to make it a mini-event. Take a walk alone in the sun during lunch. Plan to make your favorite dinner next week. Stop at the library and rent a movie you've been wanting to see.

Public libraries are an awesome resource for free stuff. In addition to books and movies, some also offer classes and events for adults and kids alike. Image via iStock.

3. Don't let others guilt you out of it (or into doing something else!).

There will always, always be something that someone else is asking of you, but it's important not to feel selfish for putting aside time to take care of yourself. Giving all of yourself to others isn't a sustainable lifestyle for anyone, and you'll be useless to yourself and others once you're all burned out.

Plan a walk during lunch, and don't let anyone persuade you to cancel on yourself. Image via iStock.

Self-care can include saying "no" to things, too! You may feel obligated to take care of your family's basic needs, but beyond that, you have every right to refuse to do something that gets in the way of doing you.

4. Remember to make time for doctor appointments too.

Self-care isn't just about stress — it's also about keeping your body and mind healthy. Make time to see your doctors regularly (before a health issue arises!) and be sure to check your four health numbers so that you can take steps to prevent disease early. Make your hygiene a habit that you refuse to break. See a mental health professional when you're having a hard time. You, your mind, and your body deserve basic care and respect. So remember: Go. Know. Take control.

Making time for your medical and mental health is essential. Image via iStock.

If you don't have health care coverage, research free medical and dental clinic options in your area. You can also find resources for locating affordable mental health services in your area.

5. Keep it simple.

Don't get overwhelmed by the idea of having to plan yet another item into your routine. Self-care is about what makes you feel good — not what others say you should do.

It's not selfish to make self-care a priority. You can't keep others healthy if you aren't healthy yourself.

Learn more about how to take control of your health at Cigna.com/TakeControl.

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

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