romance writer
Self-care ideas that don't break the bank - blog by Zoe Ashwood | Cheap self-care you can do at home!

It's my birthday!


I know it's bad practice to date your posts this way, but I turn 33 today. Celebrating a birthday in the middle of a global pandemic is a strange thing to do - I can't really see any of my extended family, but I am lucky enough to have my husband and my boys here with me. They're even making me a cake!


Zoe Ashwood's Selfie - 33 self-care ideas #33selfcare


This is me! With quarantine-lenght hair and a happy smile. (Can you tell I dislike taking selfies? Haha!)


In order to start this new year of life off right, I put together a list of thirty-three self-care ideas that I'm going to go through in the following weeks. Was there ever a better time for focusing on yourself? 


Now, I'm a romance author, so quite a few of these will be book related, as you can probably guess, because my self-care usually begins and ends with great stories. But there are ideas here for everyone, so scroll down to check them out!


I also picked items that don't require you to spend a lot of money - or get out of the house, in most cases. Most of the ideas can be customized so you can do them wherever you are. I hope they help!


I'm challenging myself to do at least 3 of them each week - and you can follow me on Instagram to see my progress! If you'd like to join me, use #33selfcare and tag me @zoeashwood so I can see and share your posts! :) This is not limited to the pandemic, by the way - self-care is always an important part of our lives.


Soup and bagel - self-care ideas that don't break the bank - zoe ashwood


Let's get started with that list!


  1. Read a book - obviously. :) Here's a list of books I recommend for pretty much every taste out there (except horror, because I'm too much of a chicken to read that, haha!). 
  2. Go for a walk - during this lockdown, I've come to cherish nature even more than before. I've always been a tree-hugging hippie, but now I'm almost religious about going out every day. It's great for my mental health, and I can't recommend it enough.
  3. Do an at-home facial - I don't know what your evening routine looks like, but slathering my face with cleansers, peelings, and moisturizers is very soothing for me. Scrub off those dead skin cells and see the glow! :)
  4. Journal - I got back into the practice of journaling again, and it's very helpful for sorting out my thoughts. The more you do it, the better you get at it, too.
  5. Do a gratitude practice - this goes hand-in-hand with journaling, but I write down ten things I'm grateful for almost every day (small stuff like good coffee and big stuff like my family), and it really allows me to focus on the positive.
  6. Do yoga - I love this channel, but there are dozens out there, so browse a little and find a teacher that fits you!
  7. Make soup - I don't care that it's getting warmer. A good soup is comfort food at its finest! Ideas here and here.
  8. Make a smoothie - I love starting my day with a protein green smoothie (we're using vegan protein powders, and they're great). It's a good source of vitamins and keeps me from snacking all through the morning. Alternatively, if you don't have a blender, make a fruit salad! 
  9. Go to bed one hour early - and get enough rest. Sure, staying up and binge-watching Netflix is fun, but you need sleep. This is definitely a challenge for me.
  10. Listen to a helpful podcast - I have a number of favorite podcasts, but recently, I've been turning to Natalie Bacon's and Rachel Hollis' a lot!
  11. Learn something new - whether it's cooking, French, knitting, or SEO, search for content online and learn something you've been wanting to do forever. I picked SEO and blogging, and I'm working my way through some courses.
  12. Do a workout video - something to get your heartrate up! Whether it's pilates or HIIT, YouTube has endless choices for you.
  13. Bake something - you're going to need all those workouts if you start baking every week, but it's so worth it. So far, I've had great success with bread, bagels, rhubarb crumble, cornbread biscuits, and cinnamon rolls!
  14. Dress in fancy clothes - and do your makeup or hair or whatever makes you feel beautiful. Yes, even if there's no one to see you. It's important!
  15. Have a "night out" - while staying at home, obviously. If you're self-isolating alone, get on Skype or Zoom with your friends and chat with them. If you have family or a partner at home, break out the nice plates and candles, and prepare a great meal! 
  16. Have a movie night - prepare popcorn or buy candy, and put on a movie that you've been wanting to see (or alternatively, one that always makes you feel good!). If you have kiddos and haven't discovred Studio Ghibli yet, I highly recommend My Neighbor Totoro (it's on Netflix). 
  17. Do a self-massage - in the absence of my favorite, most indulgent form of self-care, I'm going to give this one a try soon! I haven't tried any videos yet, but this one looks promising.
  18. Meditate - either light a candle and just sit in silence or find a guided meditation online to take you into yourself. I've done a couple these past weeks, and they're very relaxing.
  19. Try new food - if your grocery store is not stocked with your usual items, try something new, especially in the vegetable department. You never know, you might discover a favorite new dish!
  20. Listen to an audiobook - this is great for doing chores! I love Scribd for this (my link will give you 60 days free instead of 30, and I'll get an additional 30 days myself), they're very affordable and their selection is great!
  21. Clean your home - whether it's decluttering, deep cleaning the bathroom, or a comprehensive spring cleaning, this is likely the best time to do it. Your future self will thank you. :D
  22. Do an at-home pedicure - I'm not going to link anything here, you can find your own videos of other people's feet, haha! But do a pedi and give yourself a foot massage while you're at it (and if you're watching Pulp Fiction at the same time, you get all the bonus points from me). 
  23. Try a new look - whether this is makeup, hair, or clothes, you can try out a new look in the safety of your home! 
  24. Write a letter - it can be an email to a friend or a relative, but there's something so satisfying in writing an old-school letter on actual paper. And it's very nice to receive one, too, so you'll be making someone very happy.
  25. Plan your week - I know this might sound ridiculous in this strange time, but it's good to have a plan! My favorite planning channel is here.
  26. Listen to a whole album - from start to finish. My current favorites include Lover by Taylor Swift (duh), Meliora by Ghost, and the Love, Simon soundtrack!
  27. Talk to your plants - ok, we're heading straight into kooky territory here, but hear me out. Taking care of your potted plants or garden is extra soothing, and if you give them a word of encouragement (and prune and water them, haha), they might just grow a little better. Hey, it's completely irrational, but I firmly believe my plants like my voice.
  28. Have a bath - another self-care staple, baths are relaxing and soothing. Light some candles, throw in a fistful of bath salts if you have them, or a drop of essential oil. 
  29. Go for a run - and just run however far you can. Fun fact: I hate running. But every time I do it, I feel like freaking ninja, because I didn't think I could do it before. :) It's a mindset thing, and I don't have a good explanation for it, but running is good for ya.
  30. Check in with a friend you haven't spoken to in months - maybe they need it right now, and maybe you can have a great conversation and re-start that relationship. Pick someone you actually like, though, not a person you cut from your life because they were being horrible to you.
  31. Do an at-home manicure - get your nails in shape, moisturize (if your skin is like mine, your hands are probably dry from all the hand-washing right now!), and give yourself a hand massage.
  32. Create a list of things you want to in the next season - it's good to have something to look forward to! My summer to-do list will include eating watermelon and reading and lots of hiking.
  33. Make a joy list - this is an idea I got from Rachel Hollis and her #next90challenge, but I think it's super useful! Make a list of small things that make you happy, like listening to your favorite song, and return to it when you need a pick-me-up. 


33 self-care ideas that don't break the bank - zoe ashwood




I'm really excited to get started on this list. I hope you'll join me (don't forget to tag me and use #33selfcare if you do) and that at least some of these ideas will be helpful to you. 


Wherever you are, and whatever situation you're in right now, I hope you're safe and healthy and focusing on yourself as much as on other people! It's imperative to take good care of yourself.


Do you have any self-care suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!





Hi! I'm Zoe, and I write cinnamon roll heroes, no matter how loud they growl


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