Mindfulness on a Budget: Self-Care Practices When You Can't Get Away

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by Dr. Candice Williams

This story is part of our MYND x RUNGRL Mental Health Series

For many Black women, saying that prioritizing self-care is a challenge is quite an understatement. In fact, not prioritizing ways to manage stress and take care of yourself can even lead to serious health complications. The American Heart Association has noted, "Stress may be particularly relevant for African-American women, given the discriminatory environment in which these women may live.”

Still, even for those who understand the importance to managing stress and self-care, these tasks can seem even more impossible if you don't have the time or budget to take a vacation to relax and recharge.

According to a recent study, Americans spend an estimated $143,000 over the span of their lifetime to “treat themselves” — that's more than $2,388 per year on luxury experiences. While the term "treating yourself"is typically synonymous with retail therapy or indulging in guilty pleasures some might consider self-care as something only reserved for this category.

Defining Self-Care

But does self-care really require week-long vacations or pricey spa days? Does it have to include mani-pedis and shop-til-you-drop sprees? The answer is an emphatic “NO”.

True self-care involves taking action to preserve or improve one's health. To take it a step further, it requires an intentional effort to put your mental, physical, and emotional health first.

Simply put, self-care means taking care of yourself, mentally, physically and spiritually.

Living Your Best Life on a Budget

Whether you're in need of a vacation, staycation or a bae-cation, getting some much-needed rest and relaxation can be achieved without catching flights or staying at a 5-star hotel. Below are five affordable ways you can disconnect from your busy schedule by reconnecting with yourself.

  1. Create a YOU list.

    Ditch your to-do list and create a YOU list. When’s the last time you put yourself first? It’s not selfish to put your basic health, wellness, and mental health first to preserve your sanity. Your productivity and ability to be present and care for others is compromised if you do not prioritize your needs. Creating this list will help you prioritize goals for your health and build in time for the things you enjoy so you can avoid developing unhealthy ways of coping with stress.

  2. Unplug and recharge.

    Limit your time on social media to stay connected with reality. Life goals are to be experienced in real life, not only as a fantasy. Being inundated with images of family, friends and celebrities showcasing what appears to be their “best lives” can cause us to make unfair comparisons and stress about our own situations more. Unplug from social media, especially from toxic friends and situations. Use the additional time to develop a self-care routine at home and reflect on who you are. Try taking a bubble bath, giving yourself a facial, lighting scented candles, or whatever you need to create a tranquil atmosphere and calm your mind— good vibes only.  

  3. Self-care at work.

    Don’t have enough vacation time accrued for a long getaway (or even a short one)? Try to incorporate self-care in the workplace to help decrease stress and increase productivity. Get moving and join your workplace wellness program, build social connections at work, and set realistic deadlines to complete work task to avoid being overbooked and busy. This means letting your boss know when you need help or more time, rather than continuing to say “yes” to things you can’t handle. Also set aside time for mental breaks throughout the week. Shut down your e-mail, put the ‘do not disturb’ on your phone or office door and listen to your favorite playlist/podcast or read a book, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.

  4. Plan a wellness weekend with your girls.

    Get creative with your squad and plan a wellness weekend with your besties. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. You and the crew could reserve an Airbnb for the weekend in your favorite city (or your home town!) and just relax. Or pick one friend to host for the weekend and have everyone else bring food, drinks and goodies. You don’t always have to travel internationally to have a good time and good vibes with friends. Plan this annually to foster a sense of community, accountability and build your own “self-care squad”. Goals!

  5. Create your own self-care and wellness toolkit (or purchase one).

    Whether you are a DIY-type or you’d rather pay someone to do it for you, creating a self-care and wellness toolkit can be a great go-to for any stressful situation. It can include anything from your favorite things to new products you’ve been wanting to try. Add a list of quick coping skills exercises and any other things you know can help you survive stressful situations and feel calm when needed. Keep your kit handy at home or work if you need to pull it out in a pinch.

Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be expensive but it does have to be purposeful. Make it a line item in your budget for personal growth. Give yourself permission to put YOU first without putting your mental health and wellness last. You deserve it!


Candice Williams, PhD, NCC, LPC


Dr. Candice Williams is a Texas native living in Washington D.C. and specializing in both clinical and trauma counseling. Dr. Williams has over ten years of clinical experience across various treatment settings with adolescents and adults. Her work is centered around Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and includes a strength-based approach to helping clients understand how their thoughts impact their feelings and thoughts. Insightful, competent and highly experienced, Dr. Williams has helped hundreds of clients towards their desired personal and professional goals with her private counseling organization, MYND Mental Health + Wellness Group, LLC.