Many of us suffer from something called imposter syndrome. What does that mean?
We feel like a fraud in the appearance that we have it all together. However, the reality is that we feel like we fall way short of that in our heads.
- How do we overcome imposter syndrome?
- What kind of process will help?
I have good news! That’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s post. It’s all about self-care. Self-care, self-love, mindfulness, and time alone all go hand-in-hand. Yet what do they mean?
First, let’s start by looking at how some define the term.
- the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s health.
- The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s well-being and happiness, particularly during periods of stress.
From the definition above, it means that you need to put yourself first sometimes, and how you do that is defined by you. This is where the start of putting a stop on being an imposter is.
Don’t be blinded or controlled by how society tells you to do you. Make this your personal choice. Then, also, keep in mind that self-care doesn’t mean breaking the bank. There are many ways for you to take excellent care of yourself without necessarily hurting your budget or else that no longer is self-care. Later on, you still suffer the consequence of being problematic with how to pay your debts.
Whatever it takes for you to feel like you’ve made yourself a priority and that you’ve taken care of yourself in some way that you needed to be taken care of. That is what self-care is all about.
That saying goes: “You cannot pour from an empty cup,” by Tarryne West. If you’re not ok, you can’t take care of others either.
How Does This Translate Into Real Life?
As it’s defined, self-care is how we preserve our health and happiness when we’re stressed.
However, self-care can take many forms and translates into each person’s life differently, so what works for you may not work for your friends or colleagues. This is precisely why it’s essential to remember the basic point here. The focus is on you, and YOUR self-care. Not on what others dictate it to be, for them.
In general, I like to think that self-care manifests in ways in which we treat ourselves, the amount of time alone we have, or our ability to complete small daily tasks so that we have peace of mind at the end of the day. You can sleep better at night. Then, you wake up the next day feeling more positive that you can carry on all the tasks required to be done. You don’t have to go back to the same depressive cycle that you may once have had.
The Cost of Self-care
Yet, these options can cost you money, even time alone. There’s always that thought that one needs to shell out so much to give oneself some love. Unfortunately, it’s common knowledge now that self-care can be quite expensive.
For instance, if you have kids, getting time alone may mean paying the babysitter or nanny for that extra time. According to an NYPost article, a study done by OnePoll and Eventbrite found that Americans tend to spend around $199 a month on self-care, or “treating themselves,” or $2388 per year, or assuming you started working at 20 and live till 80, over $143,000 during a lifetime.
That’s a lot of money. According to the study, the majority of people prefer experiences over things and feel less guilt when paying for those experiences versus paying for luxury items. It makes sense, and I’m glad that’s the case.
However, are the experiences we are paying for really helping us? And is the amount of money effective? Is it necessary to spend a lot to care for ourselves and manage our stress? I don’t think so.
I think the idea that spending more equates to “caring more” is a fallacy, and at the end of the day, only serves to create more stress – think of what else you could be doing with your money!
Some Ideas on Self-care
As I mentioned, I don’t think this idea of self-care needs to break the bank or even affect your budget. I’ve listed some everyday self-care experiences below. All of them are budget-friendly and meant to give you ideas for how you could incorporate more self-care into your routine without spending $199 per month.
Spa Day at Home
Many people will advocate or even try to get a facial and nails done at least once a month. Assuming you find the middle-of-the-road prices and are happy with your services, let’s assume that you pay about $100 for a facial and $35 for a basic manicure. That’s $135 per month.
Instead, go to any drug store or even Sephora and buy yourself those face mask packets and some nail polish. Before you head out to the drugstore, scavenge the Internet first for gift cards, promo codes, and other discount vouchers that you may use. By doing so, you’re able to save even more! No, it’s not as satisfying to do these things by yourself, so if you need it, get a friend to come over so you can do each other.
Depending on the mask, a facemask packet at a drug store will cost anywhere from 1-to 5 dollars. Nail polish is the same depending on the size of the bottle and the brand. Couple this with a Netflix movie and a glass of wine, and you’ve got yourself a relaxing evening at home.
Even assuming you spent the maximum, you can give yourself a mini facial and get your nails done for about 10 dollars. The bottle of wine you buy will likely be under 10 dollars, and your movie is free.
Total cost at home: approximately $20
For any female, girl time is a must. This time is to vent and connect with another female badass in your life. Hopefully, that helps release a lot of that stress that you’ve been carrying around. Girl time is free and can be done over the phone, via text, email, or in person. My preference is to have girl time in person with a glass or bottle of wine.
Fancy restaurants and wineries are not required; however, if you want to get out, then look for happy hours in your area, or if there’s a restaurant with BYOB, then buy a bottle and take it with you! If the weather is nice, grab a bottle on a picnic or sneak it onto the beach. Wine, plus girl time, plus fresh air, is a winning combination.
Total cost at home: free +/- the cost of wine. If you’re out, the price of a happy hour is probably about half of what you would typically pay.
The average cost of joining a gym: is $58/month
A great way to facilitate self-care and release stress is to get physical. Gym memberships can be super expensive (I’m considering canceling mine), and how often can we even make time for the gym anyway?
If a gym is what you need, or prefer, then make sure its one where you will get the full benefit of your cost. For instance, a $58/month membership at a gym that otherwise costs $10 per day without membership will require you to go at least six times per month to get your money’s worth. So, if this is your thing and you know that you’ll make use of it, then go for it.
Alternatively, if consistently going to the gym isn’t in the cards for you, then using a day pass to go 2-3 times per month might be a better bet. Also, depending on where you live, if the gym is not your cup of tea, go outside. Hiking, biking, or just long walks in the neighborhood can do wonders for clearing your head. If you live in a colder part of the country where going outside may not be an option, then YouTube some exercise videos, download a Yoga app, and get moving at home.
The total cost of going outside or exercising at home – is free. Only join if you know you’ll use it! Day passes at the gym: ~$10.
One of my favorite ways to de-stress is to read a book. Might sound counterintuitive because I’m concentrating on something versus just trying to empty my mind. However, burying myself in a story is an effective way to not think about all the things I’m doing in real life. It offers a reprieve from daily stress. Incorporating reading into your daily routine does not have to be complicated, difficult, or expensive. My recent post on how you can do so is here.
Another way to escape is to empty your mind via meditation. I like to do breathing exercises in a quiet room and repeat a mantra. Calming music also helps, as does lighting candles. There are apps out there that can help you with this and other online resources.
The average cost of a paperback novel: is $13-$16. Alternative: buy a Kindle ebook for less. Borrowing from the library and friends: free.
You pay a subscription and get access to all books on Amazon Kindle. If you’re an avid reader, then Kindle unlimited is another option. Check it out and see if it’s right for you!
Giving yourself a getaway is the epitome of self-care, especially if you can take a solo trip. The time away by yourself is an excellent opportunity to de-stress and reflect and grow. By now, however, you may be thinking, how can I travel when I can even barely get by with all the expenses to be paid for? Travel doesn’t have to be expensive since there are now so many opportunities for one to travel, even when on a budget.
Based on how much it costs to travel to different places, you can choose the destination that fits your budget! If you’re able to go abroad and your travel dates are flexible, you’ll be able to find more budget-friendly flights. Also, if you don’t know where to go or how to pick, check airlines for their flight deals to different cities.
Always remember when traveling to pack lightly with just a carry-on and backpack. That will not only save you money in check-in fees and potentially taxi costs but can save a ton of time at the airport.
If you’re unable to fly anywhere, even a short weekend away can do wonders. Find out local day/weekend trips you can do nearby your home and book a couple of nights for yourself.
Getting Out of the House
Sometimes, we need to escape the four walls that confine our daily lives. The mind-numbing routine of going from home to work and back again can drive anyone crazy if you don’t get a break. However, many self-care options that include leaving the house can get very expensive.
Here’s a list of some budget-friendly ways to spend time outside of your home:
- Go to a local park and/or have a picnic.
- Visit your local hiking trails.
- Volunteer your time at a local charity or with an organization that can use the help – giving to others can do more for our peace of mind than anything else.
- Go to the movies–late morning or matinee shows are always cheaper, and more often than not, you’ll get the theater to yourself.
- Take yourself out for a simple cup of coffee.
- Window shopping at a local market
- Find a local museum and take a look around. Museums generally require silence or quiet voices, so sometimes this is a great way to get out, do something new and still be alone with your thoughts. Most museums are free; however, if you live somewhere where you have to pay, then check out their website for rates and deals. Many will have nights where access is given at a discount. For instance, in San Diego, summer nights in the park include Art museum access for only $5. In NYC, you can do “Friday night Art After Dark” and get entrance for $12 at the Guggenheim. ( and according to this NYTimes article, exposure to art can help you live longer, a win-win!)
This is probably one of the hardest things to do, yet the most necessary. One way to overwhelm yourself and your schedule is to agree to do everything you ask. While it's important to “say Yes” to the things that will help you, it's just as important to say “No” to the things that don’t.
Sometimes self-care doesn’t involve doing fancy things by yourself; it consists of making sure you spend your time wisely and do things with intention. Sometimes it’s about making sure you can prioritize the things that truly matter to you.
Choose Your Experiences Wisely
I mentioned earlier a study that showed people prefer to spend money on experiences. The study included data from Eventbrite, which, as you can imagine, includes concerts, shows, etc. You can laugh your heart out in concerts and shows, cry your emotions out, and even dance the night away. If this is something you love to do, then I still encourage it. After all, for what purpose is it that you spend long hours in the day working and ending up without the ability to spend or go for the things that you love.
However, you should always strive never to pay full price for any of it. Why pay full for something that you can have at a discounted price. Check out Groupon and Living Social as they often have deals for events. Also, try to book tickets well in advance to avoid purchasing last-minute tickets at inflated prices. This will also make you feel better, knowing that you can enjoy the concert you’ve long wanted to watch without going over budget.
Overall, choose experiences that will help you on your self-care journey. For instance, spending your time experiencing something that teaches you a new skill, teaches you something about yourself that you didn’t realize before, or truly helps you relax is far more advantageous than an experience that does none of these things. Hand in hand with this, make a bucket list that includes experiences you’d like to have, and use that as inspiration when you have the time to devote to yourself. Write these down in a journal. Then, as you go through your workdays, remember these goals. Watch yourself tick them one-by-one, week-by-week, especially for those that don’t necessarily require you to burn a hole in your pocket.
Living Life With Self-Care / Final Word
Self-care isn’t just a once or now and again kind of thing. It’s a practice we should all incorporate into our everyday lives. Then, it doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or time-consuming. It has to make you feel like you’ve gained some peace of mind, some time to yourself for relaxation and reflection, and a sense of fulfillment in time well spent.
When you’ve taken good care of yourself, you become a better person toward those around you. If we’re fulfilled and taken care of, we can better care for everything and everyone else around us. As the quote above says, we can’t pour from an empty cup. We owe ourselves to keep filling our cups and showing ourselves some enduring love and TLC.
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice, a community, and provide resources to help them overcome hurdles and achieve success.
With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top.
Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.