Affordable Self-care Ideas in 20 Minutes or Less

Here at SarahJaneReign, I don’t talk about self-care nearly as much as I should, even though it’s a fairly regular part of my routine. Quiet time for reading, bubble baths and/or a good old-fashioned nap are a few of my favorite ways to unwind. 

But somewhere along the way, we fell into this mindset that we simply don’t have time for self-care. Wait. What? Yes, it’s true. At some point, this comparison-driven society that we currently live in warped so many minds into thinking that if your self-care doesn’t involve an all-day pampering session, a spa or luxurious items, you’re self-caring wrong. Well. With holiday season upon us – a time when most of us could especially benefit from self-care – it seems like the perfect time to prove that misconception false.

If you don’t have a spare few hundred dollars or an entire free day to devote to taking care of yourself, don’t fret. You’re right there with most of us. Here are seven of my favorite affordable ways to sneak in some “me” time in no time at all. Most of these methods cost less than $20, and the best part? Twenty minutes is all you need to be on your way to a more balanced, peaceful you this season.

1. Phone a friend (or family member).

I don’t call my friends as much as I did growing up. And I truly don’t know why. Almost every time I have a phone conversation with an old friend, my heart is full and I am genuinely happy. Twenty minutes of laughter, catching up, and reflecting on old times can do wonders for your mental energy.

A couple of tips here: Make sure you are calling a friend who positively influences your life, and not an energy drainer who you feel obligated to call. And have this phone call at a time that you can truly enjoy it! I like to do this while I’m folding laundry or literally just lazing around the house, so that I can focus my attention on enjoying the conversation.

2. Get grounded with yoga.

Inhale. Exhale. While yoga classes can be expensive (although I do really enjoy yoga classes), did you know there are so many free yoga videos on YouTube? For Amazon Prime members, I also recently discovered that there are a ton of yoga videos available for free through Amazon Prime Instant Video, as well. For your own comfort, you may want to purchase a yoga mat and possibly a block (if you have short arms like I do!), but this is a mostly free activity. Opt for a quick start-to-the-day morning session with about 20 minutes of breath work and light stretching.

3. Enjoy flipping through glossy pages.

Ways to relax during the holidays

Ever since I was a preteen, magazines have been my thing. I used to love reading YM and J-14 (fun fact: Did you know that magazine stood for “Just for Teens?” Mind blown.) Then as I got older, I transitioned to Cosmopolitan and beauty magazines. Then I got hooked on Food Network Magazine (still am). And now, I enjoy all of the food and home decor publications like Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple and more. 

Even with all of the knowledge available at our fingertips (hello, world of instant gratification), there is something indulgent and special for me about flipping through glossy pages filled with specially curated content. Especially during holiday season, this is one of my favorite ways to destress.

4. Heat things up with a cold weather beverage.

When things get hectic, a hot beverage seems to slow time way down for me. I make things extra wonderful by upgrading my treat of choice. For coffee, I’ll add in a special holiday creamer or top with a dollop of whipped cream. Instead of my usual quick fix bagged tea, I’ll pull out the loose leaf and the rock sugar. My cocoa gets accompanied by marshmallows, candy canes or whatever other delightful toppings I have around the kitchen.

Add in a solid chapter or two of whichever novel I’m reading (or a blog post or two from my favorite bloggers!), and you have a mighty fine wind-down activity.

5. Unleash your passion that you never make time for.

For me, that activity is blogging. It can also be singing or playing the guitar. Creativity has a way of rejuvenating the spirit, and whether your activity is painting, writing, quilting, putting puzzles together or upcycling, a hobby can give you something to look forward to amidst the craziness. By condensing your hobby to only 20-minute spurts, you 1) show yourself that you do actually have time for your passion and 2) unlearn some of that instant gratification that we’ve grown so accustomed to. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s okay to start an activity, work on it for just a bit, and come back to it later!

Reign tip: Hobbies can be pricey, but there are ways to make it more manageable. Put aside $10-20 a month in a savings account until you have enough to purchase your new set of art supplies. Trade in your change to buy a new miniature, etc.

6. Seize the day … 15 minutes earlier.

While it may seem like it’d be a hassle (trust me, no one loves sleep more than I do), I’ve found that waking up even just a little bit earlier than I need to feels like such a luxury. It’s also 100% free! When I feel rushed in the morning, I fly out the door in a whirlwind and carry that rushed, panicked feeling with me throughout the day. On the other hand, when I have a spare 10-15 minutes before I have to leave for work, I have time to actually sit down and enjoy breakfast, watch a couple highlights of my favorite morning show, and ease into the day. Which sounds like the better morning to you?

7. Take in the soothing scents of aromatherapy.

You don’t need a diffuser and essential oils to enjoy aromatherapy. It can be as simple as lighting a nice scented candle and taking some deep breaths while you listen to whatever music you find calming. Lately, I’ve been listening to holiday jazz.

Alternatively, add some epsom salt (about $6 for a big bag at ULTA), tea, and raw honey or coconut oil to hot water in a basin or the tub, and soak your feet for 20 minutes. A foot soak takes a bit of prep work, but it feels like the ultimate “spoiled” treat when you are enjoying it.

When your calendar is filling up fast and your to-do list runneth over with endless tasks, taking time out for self-care might seem nearly impossible. It can definitely be easy to forget once you’re overwhelmed. But I encourage you to take out your calendar or planner and literally mark off time to take care of yourself so you’re not running on empty for the next couple of months. And I hope that this short list of ideas that help me might also help you find some peace and balance during the busy holiday season. Happy self-caring, everyone!


  1. Great tips! Self-care is important always, but especially during the holidays.

    1. sarahjanereign says:

      Thanks doll! I agree wholeheartedly. The holidays can totally consume us – it’s important to take time for yourself! πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoyed my post!

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