Yoga classes, organic food, superfoods and special lunchboxes. Being ‘healthy’ can sound awfully expensive when you see lists of things that require you to have and buy the best of everything. On a tight budget, you may not be able to afford to only eat organic and you almost definitely won’t be using $70 food containers. The prevalence of expensive, consumption-driven lists like these are the new ‘keeping up with the Jones’ for the healthy rich. What about those who aren’t so rich, though? When you can barely afford to put food on the table, spending extra on your health often isn’t an option, so here are ten things you can do to improve your health and it won’t cost you a cent.
1.) Drink water
It might not be filtered, alkalised and imported from a magic mountain across the seas but it’s still good for you. You can, if you choose, get some cheap filtration systems but even without that, it will help you stay hydrated and healthy1.
2.) Go outside
Vitamin D can do great things for your health is best obtained by sunlight. Not fancy Amazonian berries, but the sun that shines down every day, tax free. UV rays hot our skin and are converted into this super-nutrient that protects against cancer, improves mood and strengthens bones, among other things2.
3.) Meditate daily
Getting into the habit of daily meditation can be tricky and even confronting for a lot of people. You don’t need to pay for a class to get started though. There are lots of websites that can get you started and studies have shown meditation can help to reduce stress3, lower blood pressure4 and improve overall health5
Simply walking at a pace just fast enough that you’re a little out of breath will improve your stamina and fitness.
5.) Dig in the garden
Microbes in soil can lift your mood6 and gardening is a good way to relax, too. If you don’t have a yard, you can look for a community garden in your area or help out a neighbour, school or retirement home. If you can get your hands on some seeds or plants, you can also grow your own food, providing healthy, chemical free food at little to no cost. If you’re doing it for someone else, work out a food-trade agreement in return for your work.
6.) Eat as well as you can afford
This isn’t about tripling your food budget, but making the best choices you can with what you have. If you can source some cheap, fresh or frozen produce, if you’re able to make from scratch things you’d otherwise buy premade, do it. Look for bulk produce that’s in-season and on special.
7.) Learn something
Is there something you’ve always wanted to know how to do? Learning a new skill keeps your brain engaged and can give you a sense of accomplishment when you feel like nothing else is working out. It doesn’t have to costs money, there are numerous free tutorials on YouTube and other places online. The best part about doing it this way is that you can pace yourself. If you’re short on time you don’t have to worry about meeting course deadlines or spending money on textbooks or assessment materials. From writing a novel to servicing your car, if someone can do it, you can probably find out how.
8.) Have fun
Take a ball to the park, dance to the radio and laugh with friends. Money may not buy happiness but when you’re really struggling, the world can seem like a dismal place. Lift your mood, snatch moments of joy where you can and try to live life with a smile. It’s not always easy and you won’t always succeed, but take these gifts when and where you find them.
Written by Amy Hopkins