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The Importance for Low-Income Students to Learn Self-Care

As a low-income student myself, my first worry with money is almost always how much do I have and how much will I need. It’s ingrained in my mind that money shouldn’t be spent on things that aren’t necessary, even though I have enough money to do so. With that being said, it’s extremely hard to let myself relax and give into my wants, rather than just supplying for my needs. Self-care can come in many ways. Whether it be retail therapy or just spending money on extra groceries, the acceptance of self-care is hard to achieve when you are worried about basic fundamentals of living.

packaged fruits and signs set up at a booth at a farmer's market
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

The best way that has helped me introduce the idea of self-care in my life is to give myself a plan and a budget. It helps me understand that I still have control on my finances, while also giving myself a little bit of leniency so that I can actually enjoy some items. For example, I first started wearing makeup because I loved the art aspect of it, but I didn’t want to pay for palettes that weren’t useful, even though I liked them. So instead of just giving up on makeup, I buy my favorite things when they are on sale. Although that is a restriction in itself and a habit, it is also a first step. Nowadays, I don’t go over $30 with makeup in one trip, but I do love to try out new things, even if they are full price. 

make up
Photo by Emma Bauso from Pexels

When we look at things like money, it’s hard to tell people what to do with it or how to use it because it is such a controversial topic. I get defensive when I talk about money, even though I don’t need to because it’s a defense mechanism. I have to look inward and reevaluate how I unconsciously respond sometimes, even if I don’t mean it. My unconscious response leads to my reluctance of letting go and the whole point of self-care is the allowance of relaxation, of growth in peace of mind. To really live life as something of happiness and passion rather than living to make ends meet. 

payroll clerk counting money while sitting at table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

At the end of the day, when looking at self-care and money, they will always be intertwined. There will always be reluctance, but that doesn’t mean mindsets can’t change. The advocacy of the right resources, and the ability to learn the art of letting go is the biggest step towards self-care. It’s definitely hard to not be afraid but it isn’t even harder to maintain balance in your life if you are not taking care of yourself first. Take small steps, make a plan, and have fun with it. That’s all self-care is really about anyway: to nurture your unapologetic self.

Olivia Garcia

UC Riverside '24

creative writing major - lover of books, Netflix, and being your truest self
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