As a child, I remember riding in the car with my dad as he drove through the nicer neighborhoods, on the other side of town, looking at the big houses. My dad would often say, “If you had money you could live.” I imagine he said that as he thought about all the things he would have or do, if his finances permitted it. As an adult, I now understand what he meant. As far as I can remember, growing up, I was content. All of my needs were met and I had quite a few of the things I wanted, as well. But since I’ve had to scale back to a basic lifestyle due to my income versus my expenses, I find myself having to be content with my bills being paid.
The Millennium Tour has been one of the biggest things to happen this year and many of the millennial women I know, were making plans to be at the nearest tour stop. As it turns out, it doesn’t look like I’ll be attending that concert this time around. I can’t lie, I was pretty bummed at the reality that I’ve missed seeing B2K in concert for the second time in my lifetime. It’s unlikely that they’ll be in concert together again, which made me very sad. But then the thought came to me: “Sometimes all you can afford to do is get yourself together.” It was a very humbling and sober thought in that moment. I then began to think about the things I needed to do to advance my career path, to make myself more financially stable, to nourish my physical, mental and spiritual health, and I realized that at that moment, I needed to focus on getting myself together.
With all that has been going on with mental health awareness, self care has also been a huge subtopic. I’ve been working with people for the entirety of my professional career, between being a teacher and a social worker. Dealing with people on a daily basis is not easy, much less dealing with people in crisis. In these professions and many others, it is important to take care of yourself and make sure that you are in a mental and physical state to be able to take on someone else’s needs and problems. What I’m beginning to understand more is that self care is necessary but difficult when you don’t have much money. For mothers, not being able to leave a house full of people and have some “me time” is detrimental to their well-being. For men, having to work long hours and do manual labor but not having the opportunity to rest and go watch the game and eat wings, is frustrating but also detrimental to their wellness. For couples who aren’t able to have date night because they either can’t afford to go out or pay a baby sitter, it’s stressful. But likewise for singles, who just need the opportunity to unwind after a long day of work. But this is a common factor in many low income households.
For me, home has never felt like “my sanctuary”. It is difficult for me to relax and be replenished at home aside from sleeping at night. While I’m there, I begin to notice all the things that need to be done and I begin housework instead of taking a moment to clear my mind of the day’s frustrations. I have always lived a life on the go and I will often go eat in my car at the park as opposed to sitting at home at my dining room table.
With this post, I really intend to begin a conversation about free or low cost self care practices. I often find myself more stressed and frustrated by the fact that I can’t afford my kind of self care. I’d love to be able to rent a car and drive a couple cities over, and get a hotel room for the day. I can’t afford to do that right now though. And one of the things I’m learning to do in adulthood is adjust with the different circumstances of life. The reality is that right now, my budget only allows for basic needs. That doesn’t diminish the importance of self care, but it means that I have to become creative and find ways to manipulate what is available to me in order to fulfill the need for self care practices.
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Finding contentment, is the key to life it seems. And with Christ, we can overcome the challenges of a tight budget but still have peace and mental wellness.
Please share your self care hacks, maybe it would be beneficial to someone else.
Take care, for the kingdom,