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September 08, 2023

Self-Care September: Free & Cheap Activities for Self-Care Awareness Month

By Tori Rumschlag, Public Services Librarian

It is easy to neglect caring for yourself. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy.” This September, for Self-Care Awareness Month, let’s consider how we can live well, improve our health, and show ourselves love, compassion, and kindness every day.

The Self-Care, A-Z blog from The New Social Worker has published an article called “Self Care on the Cheap.” The list offers a huge list of inexpensive (or free!) ways to practice self-care. Below is a review of a few highlights of the list – and library resources to help you in your self-care journey!

Get Outside!

There has been a rise in interest in “earthing” or “grounding” – the act of connecting with nature by touching it, usually with bare feet and hands. Even if you’re skeptical of the benefits behind this specific practice, there’s good evidence that reconnecting with nature makes us happier and healthier.

You can get back into nature with a walk on one of the many trails in Noblesville, Fishers, and the wider Hamilton County. Learn more about local trails here.

Flat Fork Creek Park

You can also connect with nature by getting down in the dirt. Need help finding something to grow? Check out our Seed Library and look at our catalog of 120+ varieties of herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Don’t have a backyard to plant in or want to keep it indoors? Check out these 20 repurposed garden containers, many made from things you may already have at home.

Titles for reconnecting with nature:

Dawn light: dancing with cranes and other ways to start the day by Diane Ackerman Forest walking: discovering the trees and woodlands of North America by Peter Wohlleben Green exercise: linking nature, health and well-being by Jo Barton Losing Eden: our fundamental need for the natural world and its ability to heal body and soul by Lucy Jones The nature fix: why nature makes us happier, healthier, and more creative by Florence Williams The nature principle: human restoration and the end of nature-deficit disorder by Richard Louv The well-gardened mind: the restorative power of nature by Sue Stuart-Smith Vitamin N: the essential guide to a nature-rich life by Richard Louv

Find Your Flow!

Another act of intentional self-care is getting creative! Encourage your creative side in Ignite Studio! The studio offers drop-in crafts and projects, classes, a Fab Lab, Digital Media Lab, A.V. Studio, and more. Even more options are available with our maker kits – check out our catalog here. Whatever your favorite way to get creative is, Ignite has something for you.

Engaging your creative side doesn’t just mean making things – it can also be appreciating what others have made! Check out a work of fiction, a book of photography, or a collection of art prints from the library and spend a few quiet moments immersed in the arts.

Want something more experiential? We circulate museum passes for the Eiteljorg Museum, the Indiana State Museum, and the Indiana Historical Society. I went to the Eiteljorg recently and spent a lot of time in their current exhibits Attitudes: The West in American Art and Expressions of Life: Native Art in North America. My sister and I were particularly fascinated by the intricate jewelry designs on display. Check out museum passes in the catalog here.

Display from Eiteljorg’s “Expressions of Life: Native Art in North America,” by Madison Stacey

Titles for unleashing creativity:

Broken places & outer spaces: finding creativity in the unexpected by Nnedi Okorafor Craftfulness : mend yourself by making things by Rosemary Davidson Creativity: a short and cheerful guide by John Cleese Inspired: understanding creativity: a journey through art, science, and the soul by Matt Richtel Lifelong kindergarten: cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers, and play by Mitchel Resnick Make time for creativity: finding space for your most meaningful work by Brandon Stosuy On becoming an artist: reinventing yourself through mindful creativity by Ellen J. Langer The art of noticing: 131 ways to spark creativity, find inspiration, and discover joy in the everyday by Rob Walker

Calm Down, Look Up!

Mindfulness meditation is incredibly effective stress-relief you can do on your own. It can happen anywhere, anytime, in as little as a few minutes. Need some help? We’ve got terrific books on the subject, but you can also check out some mindfulness meditations online through YouTube or by downloading an app. Some suggestions include:

UCLA Mindful (app for Apple and Android) – An introduction to mindfulness meditation that you can practice on your own, recorded by UCLA MARC’s Director of Mindfulness Education, Diana Winston.



Ten Percent Happier (website) offers free guided meditations for first responders, tough moments, making the most of things, happier home life, and more.


Insight Timer (website, app for Apple and Android) has 10,000 free meditations and works with leaders in the field such as Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, and Sharon Salzberg.




Abide (app for Apple and Android) offers meditations grounded in Christian biblical principles.




Smiling Mind (app for Apple and Android), based out of Australia, is 100% free thanks to being a nonprofit focused on mental health accessibility. Programs are developed by psychologists and educators for youth and adults, and there are hundreds of meditations on offer.


Titles for mindfulness and meditation:

Breathe mama breathe: 5-minute mindfulness for busy moms by Shonda Moralis Calming your anxious mind: how mindfulness and compassion can free you of anxiety, fear and panic by Jeffrey Brantley Life, incorporated: a practical guide to wholehearted living by Halley Bock Meditation for fidgety skeptics: a 10% happier how-to book by Dan Harris Mindfulness for beginners: reclaiming the present moment--and your life by Jon Kabat-Zinn Now is the way: an unconventional approach to modern mindfulness by Cory Allen The art of stopping time by Pedram Shojai

Treat Yourself Well!

It’s a cliché – when faced with something shiny, fun, or exciting (usually with a hefty price tag), we justify it with “I’m treating myself!”. We tell our friends “treat yourself!” when they consider breaking their diet for some much-needed sugar. “Treat yo’ self” has permeated our culture, from Parks and Rec to gift card designs. But what if I told you… treating yourself can be inexpensive (or free) luxuries in your own home?

Some ideas to consider:

  • Have a normal dinner on your fanciest dishes. Or your Christmas plates. Or paper plates so you don’t have to do dishes. Whatever makes you smile.
  • Make a cup of your favorite tea. Drink it intentionally, focusing on all the lovely flavors and scents. Coffee and other beverages are acceptable substitutes. You can even meditate on the bubbliness of soda pop.
  • Find your comfiest, fluffiest socks or pajamas and put them on as soon as you get home from work. Who needs to wait for bedtime to hit maximum comfort?
  • Do you have a ‘comfort read’? A favorite book from childhood or one that brings you joy as an adult? Look for it in our catalog or pull your own copy off the shelf.
  • You might have all the necessary components for a spa day at home – you can pull it off with as little as scented lotion, nail polish, candle, and relaxing music. You can make a cheap sugar scrub using this recipe, which can be made with or without essential oils.
  • Check out one of the titles below for cozy living.

Titles for cozy living:

Cosy : the British art of comfort by Laura Weir Cozy: the art of arranging yourself in the world by Isable Gillies Lagom : not too little, not too much: the Swedish art of living a balanced, happy life by Niki Brantmark Live Lagom : balanced living, the Swedish way by Anne Brones The book of hygge: the Danish art of contentment, comfort, and connection by Louisa Thomsen Brits The little book of hygge: Danish secrets to happy living by Meik Wiking The little book of lykke : secrets of the world's happiest people by Meik Wiking The year of cozy: 125 recipes, crafts, and other homemade adventures by Adrianna Adarme

Check out our Self-Care September display at the Noblesville branch! These titles (and more) are available to check-out. And don’t forget that a library trip is also a form of self-care… I don’t have any scientific data for it, but it is true for many of our patrons.