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Self-care is a subject most of us know well, especially as survivors or victims of sexual assault in any form. We know that there are certain times where we need to disconnect from everything and take care of ourselves. Self-care is when you intentionally take actions or think thoughts which will have a positive effect on you. This can vary from person to person, depending on what works for you and what type of pain you are suffering from.

Although it can be hard, especially when you are suffering, self-care is essential. It can be all too easy to turn to substances or unhealthy habits when we are having a hard time in life. While alcohol and legal drugs can be used carefully, they are also easy to abuse in a way which does not leave you feeling uplifted. Taking affirming actions and putting yourself in safer spaces is essential, especially when you are aware of your own boundaries and when you need to care for yourself.

Recently¬† it seems that the subject of self-care has been brought up a lot in the media and on the internet and it’s not always very realistic for everyone. For example, lists which recommend things you can go do to take care of yourself which may be expensive or unachievable when you are saving money or unable/unwilling to leave your house.

Over time, I’ve compiled a small list of things that you can do which are relatively inexpensive or free when you are feeling down. These “self care” projects or tasks can range from something that only takes a few minutes to something you can work on over time, depending on your preferences and interest.

Project 1: Cross stitching

Cross stitching is extremely inexpensive, especially if you can find a cheap or free pattern. Many are available on Pinterest free of charge. Find something which is liberating or funny and pick up a few supplies. Typically, cross stitching supplies are very cheap: $2-$5 for a hoop which is re-usable, $.40 for each skein of thread that can last for many projects, and $3-5 for a roll of Aida which can last from 2-8 projects, depending on size.

You can look up free tutorials online if you have never done this before. It’s incredibly easy to learn and hard to mess up. Pick something that takes a few hours or something you can do over time. I’ve found that this hobby/project really relaxes me and takes my mind off almost anything I am upset about, even in my lowest moments. It gives you something to concentrate and focus on, especially if you pick something that will take multiple sessions after work or school.

Project 2: Make soap, bath bombs, masks, or salt scrubs. 

Many self-care recommendations involve taking a bath or putting on a face mask. While many stores like Lush have wonderful products, they can get pricy. Many of these products can be made very cheaply with a few purchases or even with things you have around the house.

One example of a scrub you may be able to make with things around the house includes a scrub made with olive oil, brown sugar, and coffee grounds. Another bath salt scrub uses essential oils (of any type), food coloring (if you want), Epsom salts ($3 for a giant bag) and coconut oil.

Project 3: Create a self-care box

Are there ever times when you are freaking out or having a panic attack and then you get a message from a friend or see a funny photo and calm down just a little? Over time, you may have learned what little things make you feel better. If these are physical objects or photographs, you can use them to create a self-care box that you can look through and smile at when you’re feeling down. This could include anything from a small gift from a friend to token items.

If you don’t have time for a whole project, consider taking a small action you can do in a short amount of time.

A few examples include: Run a bath if you have a bathtub. If you don’t have any special bath products, putting in a small amount of shampoo or conditioner can create a nice smell and some bubbles.

Go for a walk if you are in a safe area and feel comfortable walking alone. Sometimes feeling fresh air can be liberating. If you can’t go for a walk, step outside your front door or onto the patio.

Message or text a friend you care about and know will reciprocate. Maybe this is someone you trust to vent to and would be happy to listen.

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