10 tips on how to have fun when you’re broke.
Yes, it was another over-spend Christmas; you’re four pounds heavier and you know already that those New Year’s Resolutions are just going to come back and beat you up as a failure.
From now on, it’s all going to be about dieting and fitness, when it’s not about glorious summer holidays (for which you want to be fit and slim). Pressure? You bet!
Yes, as always, post-Christmas, life is suddenly less crêpe de chine and more crap de chien.
So how about a few simple, fast-acting pick-me-ups which are guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself – and about the year to come? They all cost under a tenner – if they cost anything at all. Who knows, after a diet of self-imposed happiness and self-respect you might even make one of the painful resolutions stick!
1/ Have an asses’ milk bath.
Cleopatra did it – and you can do it too. Okay, it’s not actually asses’ milk unless you’ve got your own lactating donkey but ordinary milk will do just as well. You only need a pint.
Aromatherapy essential oils work just as well in milk as they do in carrier oils and this combination doesn’t leave the bath a grubby sticky mess so that’s a win-win situation for all the family.
Open a carton of full-cream milk, drop in your favourite oils (lemon grass, lavender and geranium make a wonderful, relaxing and revitalising combination) and pour the lot into a long, hot bath. Your skin will feel softer and smoother almost at once.
NB. You can use goat, buffalo or soya milk if you have allergies. You can use dried skimmed milk if you haven’t got any spare whole milk. It doesn’t smell too good on its own but, with the addition of a good scent, you can still feel like a basking Princess.
2/ Make a date with yourself.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way (Tarcher/Putnam) says it’s great for your self esteem to make a creative date with yourself at least once a week. Just getting out somewhere that will stimulate your thought processes makes all the difference.
It doesn’t have to be expensive. Go to the local Art Gallery as a first try and really assess what you like and don’t like about the exhibits. You don’t like Pre-Raphaelites? Why don’t you like them? Work it out exactly. Is it the use of colour or the subject matter. Is it individual artists? Having a reason why you like or don’t like something instead of just working on an old prejudice builds confidence.
Go to the library and spend your lunch hour reading the first chapter of a book by an author you’ve never heard of.
Have tea at a posh hotel. Oddly enough, it won’t cost any more than a latte and cake at Starbucks and it will boost your ego and make you feel a lot smarter.
3/ Start a scrap book or a treasure box.
You’ve only got to look in a 10-year-old’s bedroom to know what it is that makes them happy. Posters all over the walls; models and toys everywhere and special cards and notes from friends prominently displayed.
When you were a kid, you probably had a scrap book or a drawer where you kept things that were special to you. You did it because looking at them made you feel good – so do it again!
A treasure box is somewhere where you do keep those old letters and pictures so you can know that they are safe and look at them when you need cheering up. Print out funny emails or ‘thank yous’ and put those in too. Any time anyone says anything nice to you, write it down, date it and put it in the box.
You’d be amazed at how much more loved and confident you’ll feel for having a box like that. Every time you look in it you’ll see things that make you smile. Some of them may make you cry too – but make sure you only have things which bring on ‘good’ tears. Letters from an old relationship where you got hurt are NOT the things to have here.
Also put in pretty pictures for no reason. Lovely images you see in magazines and would usually sigh over and pass on. If they are beautiful they are worth keeping – and unless you fancy re-decorating your bedroom like a 10-year-old, where else could you keep them?
Put in cartoons too – anything that’s funny and will distract you from the winter blues.
4/ Make Old Year Resolutions.
It’s a new year and a new start. Yeah right. Oddly enough, it’s easier to make that fresh start if you’ve laid the old year to rest properly instead of just kicking it under the carpet and walking away.
Did you know that 95% of the thoughts we think today are identical to the thoughts we thought yesterday? If we want to change our lives for the better, we have to change our thoughts.
Sit down and have a think about the last year and make a list of at least five things you did well or that you’re proud of.
Then five things you didn’t do so well and don’t want to repeat again.
Then you can follow on with five really happy days you spent (more if you can) and five days that you really didn’t like.
Then write out a half page on what you would like to happen this coming year and what you can do to make sure that the old bad times don’t come again. If you know what kind of a year you want, you’re far more likely to act to bring it to you instead of living by default and repeating the thought and action patterns that made 2004 what it was.
5/ Kick ass!
Get all that anger and frustration out of your system. Thump a cushion, rent a Kick Boxing video, shout and yell. Even if you don’t know what you’re mad about, having a rant will soon tell you!
The Jewish tradition encourages people to argue with God – and to have a good shout if they want to as well. They know that God doesn’t mind and it does us a lot of good to get it out of our system.
Rent a completely out-of-character ‘kick ass’ movie and go with the characters (you may want to wait until you’re alone in the house unless you’ve got a friend who wants to do it with you.
Once in a while, screaming ‘die you bitch!’ at Terminator 3 or an Alien movie is extremely therapeutic even for girls (especially for girls). Will Smith kicking the alien who made him crash land in Independence Day is another good shouting point. Gladiator’s good for those of us feeling hard done-by; just mime the killing bits and then have a good howl when he gets his revenge and heads off for heaven.
It’s amazing how much more powerful and happy you feel when you’ve blown off some of that extra steam. You can be nicer to the next idiot you meet as well…
6/ Clear out the clutter
We all know this one, but do we do it? Heck no! Usually it’s just too big a job but it does feel great to clear out the cobwebs in the head.
Sometimes, clearing out a wardrobe brings up an old treasure you’d forgotten about but would like to wear again. Sometimes it reveals a tenner in an old jacket pocket.
If you’re keeping clothes for when you get slimmer, get real! When you are slimmer you’re going to want to rush out and buy something brand new and exciting.
Clear the garage; clear the attic; clear just one drawer. Do it with a friend because they’re much more likely to say ‘what on earth do you want to keep that load of rubbish for?’
If you’re completely at sea about what stays and what goes, get a big box and mark it ‘Pending’ and add a date three months on from today. Then put into it everything you can’t make up your mind about. Do this with a friend.
If you haven’t taken them out and used them when the three months have passed, you’re going to have to give your friend a very good reason for not getting rid of them.
7/ Stop watching the news.
Yes, we need to keep in touch with what’s going on in the world but the majority of news is not new. Most of it makes us feel bad or depressed and there’s nothing we can do to help the situation.
Keep an eye out by all means, listen to the bulletins on the radio but don’t overdose on TV news. Only watch the images if you know you can help and are willing to do so. Images stay in the mind and affect us even to the point of contributing to depression. This is not a terrible world; millions of us go to bed every night with full stomachs, feeling safe and we know we’re going to wake up in the morning.
If there’s something you can do about a situation, then do it. Even if it’s just sending Jon Snow a new tie with slightly less strobe effect.
Instead, watch inspiring stuff and movies about love, kindness and hope. If we stop believing that kindness exists, then we really will be in trouble…
8/ Plan an event to look forward to
American Self-Esteem expert Jack Canfield says one of the greatest secrets of self-esteem is to make sure you have something to look forward to. That’s why the holiday advertisements hit the screens this time of year.
If you can’t plan a holiday, plan a party six months ahead or a celebration dinner with friends. Each of you can bring a course so it won’t break the bank. If you make it special enough it will hold a torch for you through most dismal times.
Make it silly or different – a fancy dress party; a murder game party; or an outing to a theme park. The more frivolous the better, even if it’s just a picnic (with umbrellas) on the side of a river to mark the first day of spring.
9/ Finish things.
The human mind stores unfinished business and it takes a lot of psychological energy to keep it there. It’s just like keeping a secret.
So what haven’t you finished? What’s still holding onto your energy like a leech and stopping you moving forwards?
It may be a big thing you haven’t finished – a book perhaps? Or it may be a lunch date you’ve been meaning to have with an acquaintance which you’ve just never got round to arranging.
Or perhaps a letter to a relative (it wouldn’t be a ‘thank-you letter’ would it?) Yes, it may be a colossal bore – but it’s going to go on and on being bore and a drag on your mind every single day that you continue not to do it.
So either make that lunch date or let them know you won’t be doing it (it will probably be a weight off their mind too).
If you’ve got unfinished business with someone and you can’t (or are scared to) address it direct, write them an ‘angel letter.’ This is a letter that you don’t physically send where you can say your piece and ask for a resolution. Once it’s written, place it under a lighted candle and ask for the essence of the letter to go to the person concerned. When the candle has gone out, burn the letter.
You’ll feel better for getting it out of your system- and you’ll be amazed how fast and effective angel postage is…
10/ Decide now to make the next Christmas the best one ever!
Whether Christmas was great or awful and even if you never want to hear the word Christmas again – commit to having a plan for the next one by June. Why? Because then you get to call the shots yourself. You can plan a holiday away or a get-together with friends if you really don’t want to do the family thing again.
You can tell parents/children what you are doing in good time for them to make alternative plans and they won’t react half as badly six months before the event as they would three months later. Even if they don’t believe you and try emotional blackmail in November, you can stand firm and say ‘I told you we were going away.’
The most important thing of all is to work out what, if anything, went wrong this year and resolve NEVER to have a lousy Christmas again.
© Maggy Whitehouse 2012