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9 Ways to Practice Self-Care in Gainesville on the Cheap

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

Whenever we hear about self-care, it usually involves splurging your money to treat yourself.

An article from NPR, “The Millennial Obsession with Self-Care,” outlines our generation’s love for self-care-related activities. There’s definitely truth in that — but what’s wrong with self-care? As college students, we’re trying to take care of our bodies and minds, but living in Gainesville, it’s not always easy. Gainesville isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind when we think about how self-care is portrayed on social media and in cities like L.A., where every corner is home to a boutique featuring the latest spa trend or therapeutic remedy.

However, there are plenty of ways to de-stress, unwind and show ourselves some TLC in and around Gainesville — without breaking the bank, of course.

1. Have a picnic at Lake Alice or Lake Wauburg

Nature is the perfect detox for all your worries. Fortunately, Gainesville is filled with many natural attractions, and one of them is right at our doorstep. Lake Alice and Lake Wauburg are the perfect destinations to enjoy the outdoors at UF at no extra cost! Make some sandwiches, grab some friends, and head to the water and to enjoy the Florida weather. If you get lucky, you might even see an alligator!

2. Take a class at the gym

Exercising might not seem like your ideal definition of self-care, but working up a sweat can help you manage your mood and keep you feeling healthy and energized. Student Rec and Southwest Rec offers many fitness classes like kickboxing, cycling, yoga, and Zumba. You can sign up for any class you want, any day of the week, and you don’t need anything but your student ID.

3. Watch a show at the Hippodrome

Enjoy a show at the Hippodrome, located just a few minutes away from UF. This gorgeous Greek styled building holds many shows and events, including karaoke nights. Although you might need to spend some money on this one, it is definitely worth it and is great entertainment to help you feel relaxed and carefree. The relaxation here outweighs the (already affordable) cost for admission.

4. Visit the Butterfly Rainforest

The Butterfly Rainforest at the Museum of Natural History is one of my favorite places at UF. Just being surrounded by colorful butterflies and flowers will make you feel instantly relaxed. The area is free to all UF students, and once you’re done at the garden, you can explore the other amazing exhibits in the museum.

5. Hit up the libraries

Libraries might be my second home and your all-nighter hangout spot, but some of those shelves contain great books that you can check out for free. UF has seven libraries and free access to digital books through the libraries’ database. Get a book and lay down on the grassy area of the Plaza of the Americas and enjoy some alone reading time.

6. Grab a healthy snack

Check out Grill Fresh, located across the street from Library West, and Vale, a great spot to order a healthy dinner or a vibrant acaï bowl. Downtown Gainesville has Daily Green, a restaurant perfect for vegans and vegetarians looking for a yummy meal. Healthy eating helps our immunity, our strength and our overall well-being. So the next time you want to order a pizza from Domino’s for the third time this week, try one of these healthy restaurants.

7. Don’t forget to indulge

We should all try to maintain a healthy diet, but sometimes, having a treat every once in a while just makes the soul happy. Luckily, Gainesville has some awesome places to do just that. Try 8 Fahrenheit for a unique ice cream experience. If you want some deliciousness delivered right to your door, you cannot go wrong with Cookiegazm. They even have milkshakes! So after you next exam is over, make like Parks and Rec and ~treat yo self.~

8. Lend a helping hand

It’s scientifically proven that helping others makes you feel better. It’s the ultimate win-win situation! Gainesville has plenty of places to volunteer, like Gigi’s Playhouse, Ronald McDonald House, the Alachua County Humane Society — and many more.

9. Dance it out

We love taking dance classes — they get us out of our heads and into movement. Try the hip-hop fitness class at Student Rec or Southwest Rec, or visit Latin Night at the Gold Room in downtown on Friday nights.

Everyone has a different self-care routine, but in the end, they all focus on making you feel better and relaxed. Just remember that you don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to achieve that. Take a look outside or even  in between the rows of shelves in your libraries, and you’ll see how affordable it can be to take care of yourself even on a chaotic college campus.

Courtney is a freshman majoring in History with a minor in Dance. This is her first semester writing for Her Campus UFL and she's so excited to have this opportunity! Courtney enjoys reading Jane Austen classics, traveling to new places all over the globe, and eating maybe too much Ben and Jerry's ice cream. She's a sister of Delta Nu Zeta, a service sorority on campus, and loves being able to help the community and grow as a proud member of the Gator Nation!