The holidays can be stressful and expensive, but self care techniques can be an affordable respite. Blogger Kara Perez shares her favorite ways to unwind, from meditating to stepping out in nature.

Holiday season is upon us: the season of cold temperatures, holiday treats, and (hopefully) time away from work. Thoughts of giving and being kind come to the forefront of our social consciousness. Simultaneously, the holidays also bring higher stress and spending levels, plus the complications of travel.

Case in point: I once cried at an airport because of a holiday flight delay. I was going to get in three hours later than planned, my ride couldn’t pick me up, and I’d have to shell out cab fare (something I hadn’t budgeted for). I tried to soothe myself with a candy binge at the airport, but just ended up feeling guilty for spending even more. Suffice to say, it was not my best night.

If you’re overwhelmed during the holiday rush, take a step back, pause, and focus on self care. Self care can be a lifesaver when the world around you seems to be going crazy. It’s normally the first thing to go when your budget has added strain—but it doesn’t have to. I’ve got five ways to make sure you don’t end up sobbing in an airport, binge-eating candy.

  • Unplug and Tune Out. Technology has its limits. Too much time on social media or checking emails takes a toll, and the price you pay is being burnt out and stressed. Turn off all your tech devices for at least an hour and tune the world out. Read a book, go for a walk, or try and meditate. Giving yourself a break from stimulation gives you the means to truly relax. The world will still be there when you log back on. Taking an hour to yourself is one of the best (and cheapest) forms of self care.
  • Put on Your Best Outfit. The phrase ‘When you look good, you feel good’ is true! This form of self care costs zero dollars and can be a total game changer. When I’m stressed, I often default to yoga pants and a T-shirt. It’s comfortable, but doesn’t exactly make me feel like a queen. Take a few extra minutes to get dressed in the outfit you always feel amazing in. Then, go about your day as you normally would. Just knowing you look good will translate into feeling good.
  • Spring for the Fancy Stuff. I’m creature of habit. A cup of hot black coffee and a bowl of cereal first thing every morning is my ritual. And being a frugal money blogger, I always eat and drink at home. If you’re riding the stress bus, treat yourself to the fancy version of your morning ritual. Go out to a favorite breakfast place and upgrade yourself. Get that over-the-top cup of coffee made with the flavoring and topped with whipped cream. Enjoy a breakfast sandwich instead of a bowl of cereal. A fancy breakfast will probably clock in at less than $15 and will set the tone for the rest of your day.
  • Get a Massage. A favorite way to take care of myself is to indulge in a full-body massage. We carry a lot of stress in our muscles, for days at a time. Having a professional work out knots in problem areas is a gift to your body. This is certainly expensive, but there are ways to make the price manageable. Look on Groupon for massage deals. You can also call local beauty or health schools and see if students give massages for discount prices.
  • Buy Yourself a Plant. An easy and cheap form of self care is to get into nature. If you can, go for a hike ASAP. Unfortunately, not everyone has immediate access to nature or the time to devote to finding it. In that case, bring the nature to you. Hardware stores, supermarkets, and nurseries sell small plants; costs range from $3 to $15. Put your new plant on your desk at work, or kitchen table at home. Living green things brighten your mood, give you something to care for, and improve air quality in your home.Win-win-win.

A little bit of self-care goes a long way this time of year. You don’t need to spend thousands on a retreat in Hawaii to truly care for yourself. Work in small amounts of self care on days you feel your stress levels spiking. You are the biggest investment you have, so make caring for yourself a priority this year.

Kara Perez is a freelance personal finance writer living in Austin, Texas. She is passionate about helping people become financially literate and telling people’s money stories.

Any third-party resources or websites referenced above are not under our control. We cannot guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of the resources, websites, or any products or services available through such resources or websites.

While we hope the information in these materials are useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need advice geared to your personal financial situation, you are encouraged to schedule time with a financial planner.

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