Self-Care For Poor Folks: I'm Here With Resources

On one hand, I was just about able to survive -- but on the other, I was running myself ragged.

OK, let's do some things.

First thing: To make sure we're all on the same page, here's a little clarification on what I'm talking about when I say "self-care." I am mainly talking about the things that are not necessary for survival, and that help to support your sense of self-worth, and that ultimately help you feel better about yourself.

I believe that, for whatever reasons, there are a lot of us who are not in the habit of taking extra care of ourselves and too many of us have been conditioned to believe that doing things for our own pleasure is frivolous -- or that we are not supposed to do nice things for ourselves unless we deserve it.

When I first started thinking about these things, I was about 20, working as many part-time and under-the-table jobs as I could get to survive. On one hand, I was just about able to survive -- but on the other, I was running myself ragged.

Anything I deemed unnecessary, I denied myself. I fully believed that if I worked hard enough at not being poor then I would deserve to have something nice or do nice things for myself.

That belief did little for me except help me be miserable -- and when I did have something nice, I felt awful for having it. I hope to save some folks that kind of grief because it was stressful and terrible.

That's why, today, I want to talk about resources. Since we live in the future, let's look at some stuff you can find online to do for free that might make you feel fancier.

In the comments of my first article, I saw a lot of folks wanting free exercise-related stuff. The most effective search method I've found is as follows: use "Yoga for beginners" as your query, and then filter your results for over or under 20 minutes.

If you click here, you'll see the results of my query.

If yoga isn't your thing, substitute your activity in the search and you can find videos for almost anything. I found instructional videos for everything from Pilates to hula hooping, plus drawing lessons, meditation, dance lessons, writing lessons and language lessons.

You get the gist.

To keep track of the videos you like doing, save them in a private playlist or subscribe to the channels you find that you love. Voila. Free, private and instant access to all sorts of exercise -- and learning about makeup, crafting and who knows what else!

One of the other uses I have found for YouTube is to create mood playlists. I don't always have access to all my digitized music and I have several different playlists that I can listen to almost anywhere. They range from "I need to hear something happy" to "I need to move my booty" -- or maybe you just need some ambient noise.

I also have a list of cute and funny videos for when I just need a pick-me-up. On days when there aren't really shows I want to watch or when I am just in a bad headspace, this list has been a lifesaver.

Next, use your local library, if you have one. If you do a search for your county or city, you'll find that lots of libraries have not only books, periodicals, and DVDs, but also free or very low-cost activities. I live in King County -- and after a short search online I found items I can check out online and also classes.

Let's stop here for a second.

You can do all of this stuff or none of it. The real point is to find something that gives you pleasure -- and that won't stress you out on the financial front. If you can't really afford gas to tool around town or if you have other reasons for not leaving your home too often, there are tons of options for you, too.

A special word for unemployed folks here: If you have some skills, think about volunteering your time. You can do Google searches for opportunities -- anything from giving computer help (like teaching older people the basics of email to more advanced programming classes) to moderating an online book club. I know that some folks need to feel useful and to have things that fill up their time. As a bonus, volunteering to whatever capacity you are able looks nice on a resume.

At this point, though, what we're after isn't necessarily skill- based -- it's about taking time for ourselves. Find something you like to do and that you might be into, and give it a shot. Since most of this is free, what have you got to lose? Sure, you might fall down while you're doing yoga but you're at home and probably in your underwear, so it's fine.

The last thing I want to get into today is team work.

If you check out some of the comments on the first article, y'all did some really amazing mini team work: sharing ideas, recipes -- and I spotted some how-to type things as well. I saw folks giving other people some awesome support in starting to self-care through tough times, and that is amazing.

That is why I like to talk about these things. I don't believe we have to figure this stuff out alone or in a vacuum. Look, we don't even know each other and we're sharing information that improves the quality of our lives. That is awesome.

As I do more of these posts, I would be really into all of us doing more of that. I know that you all are smart and resourceful.

Here are a few other resources while we're at it.

Look around your town or county and check for a community center. Depending on where you live, you might find a lot of free activities. In my city, my local community center has things like nature walks, bird watching, and fitness classes.

One of the downsides of being poor is that sometimes you have to do a lot of legwork to find stuff that is both accessible to you and interesting. Right now I'd suggest just easing yourself into the habit of taking the time for you. Whether you're doing yoga, booty shaking all over your house or meditating, start doing that thing that makes you feel good.

Next time I'm going to talk about the stuff that does cost money and figuring out ways to save for the things you want -- and also my method of buying skin care and makeup. I have a pocket full of strategies for overcoming the guilt that can come up when spending money on non-survival items and some suggestions for fancy stuff that doesn't necessarily have a fancy price tag.

I'll also talk about some of my favorite things that you can use from the kitchen to make your skin care and hair care routines a little extra luxe for just a few pennies.

In the meantime, if you're doing any of this stuff, please report back in the comments.