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Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C
treat yo self

Try these free (or cheap) ways to treat yourself this January

Look, no one has any money, the weather is crap, and we all need a boost.

IN CASE YOU haven’t noticed (or are trying to pretend it’s not happening), it’s January.

And that means a few things: You’re tight for cash, your social life has taken a dive, and you’re feeling a bit fragile after all the Christmas celebrations.

Plus, you’re probably being inundated by annoying ‘lose the Christmas weight!’ and ‘the detox starts here!’ ads every time you go on social media. And nobody’s got time for that.

What you need are simple ways to make you feel soothed, cared-for, and relaxed.

Or little things that put a pep in your step and remind you the world’s not so bad sometimes.


Here are our free and cheap options for you to treat yourself this January – and hopefully you’ll keep it up for the rest of the year.

Go for a walk on your lunch break

We’re not talking a 30-minute pound of the pavements here. Get out of the office for 15 minutes, take a stroll around the local area, and take some deep breaths. Look around at your surroundings and maybe don’t even listen to a podcast or music. Notice new sights and sounds. This is one of those things that seems like it’s a pain in the arse to do, but once you do it, you are so glad you did.

  • Cost: Free

Take a bath (or an indulgent shower)

If you are lucky enough to have a bath in your house, then there are loads of great tips for you to make the most of your tub time. (The basics tend to be: something nice to add to the water, a glass of wine if you fancy, tealights, and lots of time to soak).

But if you don’t have a bath, don’t worry. Use your shower time well – scrub using your favourite products, wrap yourself in your fluffiest towel afterwards, and slather on a scented body lotion after you get out. Basically: take your time and make it a treat rather than a chore. (See the bottom of this article for ways to make homemade scrubs)

  • Cost: Free – €€

Try a new recipe using only ingredients you have at home

You don’t have to splash out in the supermarket to make mealtime fun. Use Google or your recipe books (or take one out of the library) and make something new using just what you have to hand. You’ll get to feel a bit smug and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Plus – make extra so you can bring the leftovers in to work for lunch. Here’s a recipe site to help you out. And it goes without saying: make something you WANT to eat, not something you feel like you SHOULD eat. And enjoy every lip-smacking bite.

  • Cost: Free

Go wander around an art gallery 

If you have an art gallery – small or large, contemporary or classic – near you, go have a look around. If you’re in Dublin, definitely check out the Turner exhibition at the National Gallery, which runs every January. Bliss. Don’t have an art gallery? If there are any art stores, they are good for a browse too. A museum is also another good bet.

  • Cost: Free

Get a new book out from the library

It costs nothing to join a library, and nothing to take a book out. And your library has everything from fiction to history to poetry to cookbooks there. Now’s the time to take out those classics you’ve wanted to read, or that new book you’ve had your eye on.

  • Cost: Free

Do nothing

Seriously. Take a deliberate 15 minutes – or half an hour?! – and just do nothing. We’ve lost the art of daydreaming, but those idle moments can help your creativity. Also, you’ll notice when you do this how little you actually spend time doing feck all.

  • Cost: Free

Get breakfast from a nice bakery

This one will cost a few quid, but it’ll be worth it. Find a good (key word here – not just any old place) bakery near you, and treat yourself to a baked good for breakfast. Enjoy every bite.

  • Cost: €€

Take advantage of an offer

Scout around venues and businesses near you to see if there are any offers on – it might be a spa giving discounted facials, or a restaurant that’s doing a lunch deal. Dublin games venue Token, for example, is doing its cheapskate day for the entire month of january. You get a main course, a side, a pint (or unlimited soft drinks) and 10 tokens to play games for €20.

  • Cost: €€€

Take a big day trip

You want to get out of the city/town you live in, but now’s not the time to book flights or pay for accommodation. So take a day trip (yes, you’ll have to pay for petrol here – or take the bus or train) to somewhere nearby and explore there for the afternoon. A lovely one for the weekend when you just need to get some headspace for a while.

  • Cost: €€€

Go walk in the woods

In a similar vein, getting out into nature will always make you feel good. If you have access to a wood or forest near you, and you’re able to go for a roam, then just do it. Alternatively, a nearby park will work. Take inspiration from the Japanese pursuit of forest-bathing.

  • Cost: €

Visit a family member or friend you have been saying ‘let’s meet for coffee!’ to

We all do it – promise to visit someone, or meet them for coffee, and then before we know it three months have passed and we’re a bit morto that we haven’t seen them. So seize the moment this January. Invite them around for tea; meet them for a coffee; or hell, just pick up the phone and give your gran a ring. You’ll get that buzz that only human interaction can give you.

  • Cost: Free – €

Listen to a new podcast

You probably have the same old podcasts on rotation. So switch it up a bit – try a new podcast and bring something new into your life. You might learn something new, get a few belly laughs in, or just soothe your frazzled brain.

  • Cost: Free

Here are some great tips from our readers:

What are your tips? Tell us in the comments below and share the love.

Poll: Are you planning a ‘buy nothing’ break this January?

Read: Could this Japanese budgeting journal help you save money in 2018?>

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