5 Healthy Practices That are Completely Free
We were walking to the playground when my toddler started yanking on my hand. He’s already moderately slow – something about short legs and only figuring out the walking thing 2 years ago (whatever). When he yanked on my hand, I thought he was trying to show me something or convince me to pick him up again.
Instead, I looked down and saw him doing a stubby-legged lunge.
“Mama, come on! Breathe and stretch.”
I’m translating of course – in real life, my friends tell me he sounds something like, “Mama, beeboo babab na seck.”
You see, when we’re taking walks, I do lunges. I look a little dumb, especially with a toddler holding my hand and no workout clothes. But I’m a busy mom of three whirlwinds, and I don’t particularly like lunges. Why not do them while we’re meandering at the park?
Here’s what I’ve learned: when you’re trying to save money and eat healthy, your resources are precious, and the tools you use are key.
Over the years, I’ve employed many free healthy practices that take care of both my body and my mind.
Pedicures and massages would certainly improve my stress and chipped toenail problem. But they cost money, and that doesn’t always – or ever – fit in the budget.
5 Healthy Practices that are Completely Free
Probably the most boring and disappointing of these tips, but it’s powerful. Drinking more water helps me feel amazing. My skin is clearer, I have more energy, and everything works better.
These are healthy practices, not fun, okay?
If I don’t move frequently, I start feeling sore, stiff, and – basically like a normal adult.
I’m not a consistent runner, but I do like to sprint. Recently, I was at a friends’ house and I ran to my car to get something. my friends’ daughter asked, “Why is Miss Stephani running? Is there a problem?” My friend, who knows me well, laughed, and said, “No. Stephani just likes to move fast.”
It’s childish, I know. But most adults I know are sore, stiff, and tired, and if sprinting to my car keeps me young, I’ll sprint until I pull something in my back.
On a serious and more practical note, how can you move more frequently? Our culture conditions us to make life as convenient as possible. How can we make things a little less convenient so that we get up and move more?
All the classic ideas apply here: take the stairs, take a walk after dinner, walk to your mailbox instead of pulling up in your car.
Another option is to make like my favorite YouTubers, Rhett and Link, and embrace immaturity. Try some unconventional movement: squats while your food warms up in the microwave or lunges while walking with a slow toddler. Whatever works in this season.
This looks different for each person. I’m a pseudo-hippie millennial who likes to think I would have joined the Jesus movement if I was alive in the 70’s. As a result, my meditation looks like this:
- Sitting or laying down on my floor in the silence or with light instrumental worship music (like Bethel).
- Inhale deeply, filling my lungs completely with air, then exhale in a long, slow breath.
- With each subsequent breath, I challenge myself to fill my lungs more fully and empty them more completely.
- The challenge here is to focus on breathing and not think about anything else – just let my mind rest.
- I do this for a couple minutes.
After that, I just sit in the silence, still breathing more deeply than usual but not focused on it as intently. This is where I take some time to pray, thanking God for little and big things, coming to him with problems and requests. Whatever.
I’m not an expert on meditation, prayer, or spirituality, so do your own research and make this work for you. The fact is, some daily silence and a mental time-out is healthy no matter what you believe.
Here’s my final thought. All day I am constantly barraged with input – either from my kids, my phone, music, or books I’m reading. At first, the silence was scary. I didn’t know what to do with myself and instantly felt bored. However, with practice, I’ve learned to crave the silence and mental space.
You could argue that this isn’t free because water costs money. If that bothers you, skip this tip.
Once a month or so, I take a long bath. I like to add Epsom salts and some essential oils. Some people think Epsom salts don’t work, but I’ve tried both ways. I feel a lot more relaxed and my skin is softer after Epsom salts. Do what works for you. Soaking in a warm bath provides another relaxing physical and mental time-out.
5. Ruthlessly Guard Your Time
This is the biggest game changer. While the other tips require adding something to your likely already overcrowded life, this tip eliminates.
As a recovering people-pleaser, relationships are important to me, and I used to orient my life around meeting other people’s needs and wants. While there’s nothing wrong with this to a certain degree – in fact, there’s a lot that’s good and right – I had to learn the hard way that I am not responsible for other people’s happiness.
This post can’t address that concept thoroughly. Suffice to say that while I care deeply for all people, I draw strong boundaries in my life. In order to say yes to what is most important, I have to say no to other things. This means I miss some fun events. This means I disappoint some people. However, I feel healthier, more productive, and more loving than ever. Still a hot mess, but at least it’s progress.
Here are some of my favorite resources on guarding your time and energy against unnecessary commitments, things, and even people.
(The following contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small compensation if you make a purchase using the links. You can view my full disclosure policy here.)
Boundaries by Henry Cloud & John Townsend
Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider
PowerSheets by Lara Casey
Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Minimalism, a documentary from Ryan Nicodemus & Joshua Feilds Millburn
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
Saving money and living healthy is hard. Your resources are precious, and the tools you use are key. Whether you choose to embrace immaturity and do lunges with your toddler, drink an extra glass of water, or read a couple books and eliminate some stress, these 5 tips can help you live healthier without spending extra money.
What You Can Do Now:
- Stand up, inhale, reach your arms above your head, then exhale slowly as you lower your arms. Seriously. Do it now. Then note whether you feel more relaxed or less relaxed afterward.
- Choose a book from the list above and check your library or Amazon. If you want to live more intentionally and stop being so stressed, you won’t regret dabbling in these resources.
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