13 Free Self Care Ideas

Unfortunately we’ve been sold the idea that self care must cost money. Self care is shown as luxurious items, spa days, and things that often don’t fit in the budget. But honestly there are many free self care ideas that make more of an impact on your mental health than any luxurious purchase.

If you are looking for free self care ideas to help improve your life and mental health then look no further.

These free self care ideas will help you take care of yourself without spending money. 

Free Relational Self Care Ideas

These free self care ideas focus on dealing with other and the impact they have on you.

Say no to something on your schedule.

Most of us get super busy and overwhelm ourselves with our number of responsibilities and things to do. Self care is making this burden lighter.

Pick one thing this week that you’ve got on your plate and say no to it.

Wipe it off your planner and set yourself free from something you have been on the fence about doing.

Saying no to things to give yourself more free time or bandwidth for things you really love is a great act of self care.

Cull your social media and email lists.

Chances are you currently follow some accounts online that really don’t make you feel that good about yourself.

It’s ok to let go.

Go through your online feeds and cut out the accounts and sources that make you feel worse when you see them. This might include hiding friend’s feeds or unfollowing accounts that make you want things you can’t have in this moment.

Cut out the things that invoke negative emotions and feelings when you scroll through.

Send an encouraging message to someone you love.

Sending positivity into the world helps you feel better.

I find doing this an act of self-care, even though it is for someone else. This really means it is a win win because you provide care to more than one person.

Write a letter or an email encouraging someone you love or telling them how much they mean to you. Many of us go through life without ever knowing our full impact so getting these kinds of messages can truly make a difference to someone.

Use your time to let people around you know what they mean to you. 

Free Emotional Self Care Ideas

These free self care ideas focus on handling your emotions in healthy ways.

Express your emotions freely.

Pick up a journal or just make a voice not or video expressing the emotions you feel – whatever they are.

It’s okay to be angry, sad, happy, depressed, joyful.

Express those emotions and get them out into the world. You may want to do this with a trusted friend but try doing it on your own and being honest with your feelings before approaching someone else.

Self-care is also learning how to be honest with our emotions and accepting the good ones and the bad ones.

free self care ideas - express emotions in journal and keep gratitude lists - penniesnotperfection.com

Make a gratitude list.

Write down all the things you are grateful for or try writing down three things each day you are grateful for.

I recently looked back at old notebooks where I started doing this back in 2013. I realized flipping through the pages that at my highest and lowest moments there was always at least 3 things a day I had gratitude for in my life.

If you haven’t ever tried to start a gratitude habit then just try doing it for one day, like today! Write down all the things you have in life that you can be grateful for. 

Compliment yourself.

If you are like me then you generally have a very negative voice towards yourself. This negative self-talk is harsh and generally not how anyone else would ever speak to you.

Combatting a negative or critical inner voice is part of self-care.

As an act of self-care, give yourself 1-2 compliments right now or when you are done watching this video.

You might not even fully believe them but giving yourself compliments regularly helps build that positive self-talk habit and that my friends is a huge act of self-care. 

Create an uplifting or soothing playlist for yourself.

Music can have a powerful effect on your mood and emotions.

I have a couple playlists of my favorite songs I’ve put together that always put me in a good mood. I also have a playlist of my favorite calming songs and sounds like ocean waves.

Creating these was an act of self-care and bringing them up to listen when I need it is a free way to take care of my emotional self. You can also do this with positive and uplifting videos or podcasts.  

Replacing anything you are listening to that creates negative emotions will be a huge benefit. 

Filling up that content consumption with positive and uplifting music or words will do  even more for you.


Meditation is a practice of focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to improve mental clarity and reduce stress.

Meditation is free and done over time can truly benefit your mental health and well-being.

It can be done through various techniques such as mindfulness, visualization, and other practices.

There are many free apps and videos on YouTube that can help you learn how to meditate. You can try out different meditation practices until you find one that fits your needs and lifestyle.


Free Physical Self Care Ideas

These free self care ideas focus on things you can physically do with your space or body.

Tidy up your personal space.

Most of us think of decluttering and cleaning as a chore, but honestly it is an act of self-care.

Clutter has been proven to cause negative feelings and emotions and those of us with fragile mental health need to do all we can in our physical environments to create a healthy mental space.

Getting rid of clutter and keeping a tidy and clean space especially at home is a free way to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. 

free self care ideas - go for a walk in nature - penniesnotperfection.com

Take a walk outside.

When the weather cooperates this is one of the best free self care options out there. Walking is simple and FREE.

Being outside in nature, even if it’s just around trees in your neighborhood park, is both very calming and invigorating.

Even just a 10 minute walk outside can improve your mood and get your blood flowing.

When I stopped looking at walking as a form of exercise and a form of self-care instead it was a huge game changer. 

Do some stretching exercises.

A lot of us think that if we can’t get a full workout in that it’s not beneficial, but stretching is one of the biggest things where a little goes a long way.

Take a stretching break during your day and do some stretches. You can look up quick stretching or short yoga routines on YouTube if you don’t know where to start.

Stretching and yoga are free and can be done really anywhere. You’ll definitely feel better after and your body will thank you. 

Free Financial Self Care Ideas

These free self care ideas focus on things you can do financially to take better care of yourself.

Make a plan for your money.

Disorganization with finances often leads to debt and stress.

You don’t know if things are going in the right direction and often they are going the wrong way with money. Getting organized and making a plan for your money is a free way to practice financial self care.

Take some time to create a budget and make sure your income will cover all of your expenses for the pay period.

If you are new to budgeting you can check out these posts:

Sell things you don’t need around the house.

Clutter is obviously a detriment to most people.

Selling extra items you don’t need is a way to eliminate clutter and also make a bit of money doing so. This activity is free to do and ultimately gives you some money back with whatever you earn from selling items.

You can use this money to grow your savings, build an emergency fund, or invest for your future. These actions will further the benefit of this self-care activity.

Create a debt repayment plan.

For many people debt can be a burden that negatively affects their mental health.

Sometimes it even causes catastrophic results. Even if you feel like debt isn’t that big of a deal you should make a plan to repay your debts.

Paying off debts will lift the burden you might feel and it will also give you back more of your income every month.

Making a debt payoff plan is easy and a great act of self care. Not fully convinced?

Check out 10 Best Reasons To Get Out Of Debt for more reasons why living debt free is a good idea.

Setting Up A $200,000 Debt Snowball + How To Set Up A Debt Snowball

Focusing On Free Self Care

These ideas can help you take care of yourself without spending money. Copy this list and save it for whenever you need to give yourself a little love but don’t have a huge budget to make it happen. 

Remember that self-care isn’t just the vision you are sold of luxury and pampering. It’s also doing the hard stuff, building routines, and overcoming negative experiences. Reframing how you look at certain activities makes you realize that self care actually encompasses many different things and types of activities.

Take care of yourself in every way. You deserve it!

Mary is the founder of Pennies Not Perfection where she shares her journey to build wealth through online income. She quit her day job in 2021 after she paid off her debt and doubled her 9-5 salary.

Mary's favorite free financial tool is Personal Capital. She uses their free tools to track net worth and work toward to financial freedom.

Her favorite investment platform is M1 Finance, where she built a custom portfolio for free with no fees. She shares her portfolio growth and savings progress every month on YouTube.