The Best Self-Care Tips for Any Budget
The great paradox of the wellness movement? If you strive for a fit body, great skin, and meaningful rest and relaxation, you, too, can achieve inner peace and a happy, Zen existence. But then comes the rub: It’ll likely cost you — and cost you big — which, for most of us, is a factor that only adds more stress.
Sure, the cumulative cost of yoga classes, facial massages, practicing deep-sleep techniques, and nutritional eating can cost thousands of dollars a month if you let it. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Thanks to web-based tools and DIY hacks, wellbeing can be optimized at any price — not to mention, going virtual may be the most conscientious choice no matter what your tax bracket.
Here are the best ways to practice self-care at any budget.
Splurge: Yoga Nidra Session
This “conscious” relaxation practice is geared to stimulate total and deep relaxation from head to toe and from brainwaves to emotional state. Some say an hour of Yoga Nidra is so recuperative, it equates to four hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep. It sounds like a dream until you realize how much it’ll cost you: In wellness-focused hotels, a 30-minute session can be had for about $150. That fee escalates for private one-on-one sessions in your home.
Save: Nidra en Casa
In absence of blackout curtains and a relaxation guru on call, try a Nodpod Weighted Sleep Mask ($32) coupled with a guided Yoga Nidra video on YouTube (of which there are thousands). By relaxing body parts you forgot you had (like the fronts of your toes and, say, the inside of your left ear) one by one, you can mimic the kind of treatment celebrities get to counter jet lag — all for an internet connection and less than $40.
Splurge: The Hollywood-Approved Facial Massage
Hollywood’s go-to facials once comprised of microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser toning, with a little LED light or radio frequency thrown in — all to the tune of $1,000 a pop. Now, any top line facial worth its weight in Gs includes comprehensive facial massage, which stimulates blood flow, tones the facial muscles, and stimulates lymphatic drainage. It’s a specialty of celebrity facialist Georgia Louise, who tends to the skin of Jennifer Aniston, Emma Stone, and Gwyneth Paltrow, to name a few. If you have at least $300, you too can experience Louise’s famous facial massages for yourself. Her technique does feel luxurious: though Louise uses rapid-fire upward motions to work her magic, the practice is somehow as soothing as being lulled to sleep by Drake.
Save: DIY Gua Sha Facial Massage
Just because you can’t self-care like Gwyneth (and frankly, who can?), doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same skin benefits. Georgia Louise Lift & Sculpt Butterfly Stone, which allows you to tackle lymphatic drainage and facial massage, will run you about $75, but other stones made of rose quartz, jade, and obsidian can be snagged for $20 or less, like Herbivore Rose Quartz Gua Sha ($18). Once you have the tool, tune in to Lousie’s tutorial on YouTube for the pro’s method to sculpt and awaken tired skin (or deep dive into some 4,000 the results on the site for techniques from around the world).
Splurge: Full-Body Massage
If you’ve had the chance to have just about every muscle in your body soothed and relaxed, then you know just how restorative — and expensive — a full-body massage can be. According to research by the American Massage Therapy Association, we pay $1.20 a minute, on average, for restorative relaxation and that number shoots up — way up — once you book a treatment in a posh day spa, hotel, or resort, where 80 minutes of bliss can cost upwards of $300 (tip not included).
Save: Foam Rolling
Unless you’re working with tight muscles in your calves or thighs, it can be pretty tough to DIY a proper, tissue-soothing massage. That is, unless you have a body roller at your disposal. These lightweight, foam logs can be used to smooth out knotty scar tissue to reduce inflammation; Like a regenerative massage might when done after exercise, foam rolling has been shown to alleviate muscle fatigue and soreness.
The idea: Use different areas of the body (glutes, hamstrings, neck, upper, and lower back — you name it) to rock back and forth on the roller. Foam rollers can be snagged for as little as $8 online, but how they’re made differs greatly. Some can be extremely firm and using them can feel downright painful, like deep-tissue massage that makes you wince more than anything. Instead, look out for a model with moderate density like Lo Rox Aligned Rollers ($17-52), created by the body alignment and fitness guru Lauren Roxburgh who works with athletes like Gabrielle Reece and offers free body rolling videos to tackle everything from rolling basics to post-runner soreness to shoulder pain.
Splurge: Personal Training
If the only part of your body seeing regular workouts is the index finger used to hit “next episode” on Netflix, then a personal trainer may be just the thing to get the rest of your bod in shape. Why pony up for one-on-one training when there are infinite ways to exercise otherwise? In short, we tend to do better when held accountable to others. What’s more, research shows we tend to be more committed to our goals when we share them with people who have more expertise than we do. The cost to clock that kind of progress with a personal trainer? About $70 to $150 or more per hour.
Save: Virtual Training
If using an IRL personal trainer doesn’t flex with your budget, find a virtual personal training via apps like FitBit Coach (which includes personalized guidance and workout videos that syncs with the data in your device for $80 a year); Alo Moves (which offers guided yoga classes for $20 a month); Traniac (which matches you with an accredited personal trainer that you gives you workouts in real time for $80 a month); Nike Training Club (which offers nutritional programs and downloadable workouts for free).
Splurge: In-Office Peels
The beauty treatment with perhaps the scariest name out there may be one of the smartest plays when it comes to getting an in-office treatment in the name of glow. We’re talking about chemical peels, and when administered by a skin pro, these treatments can be used to tackle many of the skin benefits handled by lasers — like deep exfoliation, boosted collagen production, and minimized hyperpigmentation and acne — but for about five to 20 times less money and with minimal downtime.
But just because chemical peels don’t run in the thousands-of-dollars range like lasers do, doesn’t mean they’re cheap. For optimum results, derms suggest getting peels done in a series of four sessions, spaced out two weeks apart. The reason? With every treatment in a series, the glycolic or other acids used are able to sink deeper into the skin and break up unwanted pigment even further. The price tag: about $300 for a series.
Save: At-Home Peels
If the cost of your monthly car payment is too much to spare in the name of glowier skin, reach for an at-home chemical peel kit. They’re not nearly as strong as what you might find in an aesthetician's office, nor should they be. (Can you imagine the horrific beauty fails that would proliferate TikTok?) But they still work to exfoliate and brighten the skin for a look that seems like it came straight from the facialist. Though the glycolic and lactic acid peel products built for at-home use can do a bang-up job of brightening skin, those more prone to redness and sensitivity should go for a peel made with fruit enzymes, like Odacité Bioactive Rose Gommage ($62), which costs less than a single in-office peel and comes stocked to be used for 15 or more treatments.
Splurge: Sound Bath
Have a tough time meditating on your own? Make like Robert Downey Jr., Charlize Theron, and even Kim Kardashian at her baby shower and inspire a meditative state with an acoustic sound concert that, according to certified sound healer Roxie Sarhongi, “activates your brain waves and your body’s own natural system of self-heating.” For about $600, you can hire a sound healer to haul a bevy of instruments — like crystal and Tibetan bowls, ocean and symphonic drums, and kochi chimes — to your place and perform a 70-minute session will guide you to such a deep place of relaxation, you’re in a meditative state before you know it.
Save: 5-Minute Practices
For kids and adults who have a tough time quieting the mind, Stop, Breathe & Think has you covered. The app is chock full of approachable mindfulness and meditation activities that run from about three to eight minutes long and can be matched to your mood or intent. It also offers tons of options for teaching kids breath work and how to be still in mind and spirit. Co-founder by Jamie Price not only studied meditation under a Buddhist teacher, but spent some 18 years developing curriculum and teaching mindfulness and meditation to at-risk youth in her role as Tools For Peace co-founder.
Splurge: Chef-Prepared Meals
Word on the street? Bey and Jay have multiple chefs who work around the clock to prepare diet-specific meals on demand. But even if you don’t have a billionaire’s lifestyle, there are chef-prepared meal delivery services, like Portable Chef that cater to paleo, vegan, gluten-free, and other specific diets. A week’s worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks prepared and delivered by a personal chef service will cost in the neighborhood of $650. Those looking for delivered dinner three times a week can find it for about $100.
Save: Meal Kit Subscription
Though they do require you to rustle around in the kitchen a bit, meal kit subscription services take a lot of the headache out of finding healthy recipes, shopping for ingredients, and getting them home. Martha Stewart-approved recipes and ingredients can be delivered to your doorstep for about $50-$80 a week for a two person plan, compliments of Martha and Marley Spoon. For those on special diets and have zero time to cook, Austin’s Snap Kitchen is a great choice. The company (which ships in 38 states) consults with dietitians, personal trainers, and chefs to create meals for keto, paleo, vegan, and high-protein eaters. Better yet: with meals that cost about $10 each (depending on the plan selected), they won’t break the bank.