One of the best things about self-care is that a little often goes a long way. Taking a few minutes to clear your mind or just to cozy up with something comforting can make the difference between having a stressful day and a peaceful one. And just as self-care doesn’t necessarily demand a lot of time, it doesn’t always require a lot of money, either.
Here are a few cheap(ish) Wirecutter picks that’ll help you easily engage in some self-care whenever you may need it.
Guided meditation (for free!)
Unburdened by bells and whistles, this free app offers a well-structured, clear sequence of courses. It’s a great option for anyone who wants to see if meditation is right for them.
When you find it hard to quiet your mind, a few minutes of meditation can offer mental clarity and lessen stress. The free Healthy Minds Program, the budget pick from our guide to the best meditation apps, offers goal-driven, user-friendly content that provides a great starting point for meditation newbies (even if it’s a bit more limited in its offerings than some paid apps we recommend, like Headspace).
A journal to process your thoughts
This simple journal-style notebook offers all the basics and a better writing experience than the more popular Moleskine notebooks it mimics.
Journaling, especially about challenging experiences, has been shown to improve your immune system, sleep quality, and self-confidence; it may even boost your I.Q. Spending a few quiet moments with an inexpensive (but handsome) notebook and a good pen is all you need to start. The affordable, medium-sized Paperage Lined Journal, a budget pick from our best notebooks guide, is made with quality paper that feels thick and smooth to write on, with a faux leather cover available in 12 colors.
A weighted blanket for sound sleep (or just a cuddle)
Smooth against the skin, the Luna blanket looks and feels more balanced than most weighted blankets, especially with the duvet cover (sold separately).
As we note in our weighted-blanket guide, “Sometimes you want a hug—or, at the very least, a big, fluffy cat to curl up in your lap. When neither is available, there’s the weighted blanket.”
Our budget-pick, the Luna Weighted Blanket, offers a soft, smooth feel and quality construction (unlike other cheap weighted blankets, its glass microbeads didn’t pool together in our testing) at about one-fifth the cost of other weighted blankets we like. The Luna is also machine-washable, covered by a lifetime warranty, and available in multiple sizes, colors, and weights. While weighted blanket brands often advise picking a weight that is 10% of your body weight, we recommend prioritizing a weight that’s comfortable for you.
An oil diffuser for subtle scents
With a strong stream of mist, this diffuser has a 500ml tank you won’t have to refill that often. However, it has a larger footprint, and the faux-wood look isn’t for everyone.
By imbuing your living space with a calm-inducing scent, an oil diffuser can provide a spa-like backdrop for your other self-care practices— without worrying about a candle’s open flame. (Certain essential oils can be toxic to cats and dogs, so if you’ve got a pet, research the essential oils you’re interested in before using them.)
The powerful Asakuki 500ml Essential Oil Diffuser delivers up to 16 hours of battery life, and offers seven different colored lighting settings to choose from at two different brightness levels, although you can also run it without the light.
A little ice cream never hurts
The unanimous favorite of our taste test, this ice cream has a pure, balanced vanilla flavor and a dense, creamy texture.
Occasionally, self-care means getting yourself a little treat, just because. For an indulgent dose of deliciousness, try dipping your scooper (or, let’s be honest, spoon) into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla, which we think takes the cake as the best vanilla ice cream. We love how its sweetness is balanced by its rich, creamy texture—whether you eat it straight out of the carton or scoop it onto a warm slice of cake or pie. (Oh, there’s also a chance that eating ice cream could be good for you, if you need another reason to treat yourself.)
This article was edited by Rose Lorre and Alex Aciman.