Treat Yourself Well: Hard Work Deserves Reward!
Welcome to the beginning of another New Year! How are you doing so far? Usually, the start of the year means new beginnings, starting and finishing what you want to accomplish. Have you thought about what will be different this time? Like what you want to try again, or starting on something new and exciting? Spend more time with family and friends? Places to see that you haven’t gotten the chance to in the past two years. Maybe schedule in more lazy days to unwind. Any of these are great ways to treat yourself well, because you are important, and your reward for everything that you did and still do is just as important.
Sometimes, it’s hard to believe it. So much has been going on in your life, and maybe a bit of it felt like it was out of your control. Like the month of January? That both dragged and flew by so fast, it feels like we hardly got any of our resolutions done, which puts the pressure on to finish as soon as possible, even if it means we’re burnt out by the end. We don’t need that kind of exhaustion plaguing us. What we need is a reminder that we deserve the rest, the relaxation, and spoiling ourselves absolutely rotten.
Here’s something to think about: look back at you creating little moments of happiness for others. Helping a friend plant her garden, buying an extra coffee for your coworker, paying the toll for the car behind you on the bridge, even renting a movie at home for you and the family. All those little things can add up to BIG joy, and it’s all thanks to you.
Now apply that same thinking to yourself. Try soaking your feet, having a facial, treating yourself to dinner. Or going beyond the mundane to splurge on a vacation. Vacations are really important, no matter how small or short it might feel. A weekend on the beach can erase a month of city tension. And you can learn new things, work through problems, and strengthen relationships at turbo speeds in the parallel vacation universe. Go on, give it a try. Make a commitment to pamper yourself a little on the way to realizing your dreams.
You Deserve It – So Reward Yourself
Before you start making excuses on why you shouldn’t be rewarded, saying “Becca, I just can’t right now”, listen here for a moment: I like to think that each day is how we make it. From the moment you wake up to the second your head hits the pillow, you are making things happen. Work, texting a parent, taking care of the kids, keeping an eye on that little red or white needle for the gas gauge, emotionally pre-planning for tomorrow… There’s so much to be done each day, even more when unexpected surprises are added to your list of things to tackle in less than 24 hours. But you do it all. Yes, you!
If it starts off bad, change it. Grab a cup of coffee, do a bit of online window shopping, draw whatever is on your mind, write a short story, ride your bike around town, etc. You are staking your claim on how today is going to go, and it works. You’ve gotten to do more of what makes you happy than what life dumped on you just that morning. Before you know it, you will be going to bed with a huge grin on your face because you made today better for yourself. That’s right. You did that. And that power to change a life to go in your direction has always been with you.
With all of that, tell me again why you don’t deserve a reward? Because you absolutely, positively do! Balance the to-do list with luxury. It’s time to take a moment to breathe, relax, and indulge yourself. February is all about love, right? So shower yourself with all the self-love you need. Gift yourself a box of chocolate with a steaming bath with rose petals floating about, then start that romance novel you’ve been dying to pick up. Not to mention that March is coming up quickly, so no doubt that all of your February love will turn into a rainbow leading straight to a pot of gold, aka a reward for your reward!
Remember, no one can judge you on taking the time to check on yourself and refueling your mood and energy. The only person who knows what’s best for you is you. As Katharine Hepburn once said, “If you always do what interests you, then at least one person is pleased.”
Going off of the all-knowing Katharine, let’s talk about spoiling yourself. Now, every person is different in what they envision as a reward, but the end goal is the same: feeling that fantastic boost of serotonin.
Here are some ideas to think about or be inspired by:
- Binge that TV show you’ve been waiting to watch for too long
- There is no such thing as going to a store you love too many times
- Start that garden you’ve been picturing in your head
- Order your favorite thing on the menu for tonight’s dinner without looking or thinking about the price
- Book that spa appointment. Future you will thanking you for it
- Who says sugar cookies can’t be a breakfast meal?
- Decorate your shelf with crystals that will rejuvenate your mental and emotional energy
- My favorites are lapis lazuli, coral, blue lace agate, kunzite, turquoise, jet, and smokey quartz
- Wine and a bubble bath is the surest way to end a Monday
- Take a walk for as long as possible
- Make yourself an aesthetically pleasing and delicious picnic for one, then enjoy it at a park, a beach, or even your own backyard
Don’t wait a single second on that reward. Feeling pride and relief when completing a long and stressful task can be rewarding themselves, but getting an added bonus just because you did it really sweetens the deal. And it doesn’t have to be right at the end of a work week. You can reward yourself when you really feel like you need it. Like for me, if I’m feeling stressed at work, I’ll step aside and spend 5 minutes giving myself a reward for being so diligent at my job, whether it’s placing a quick order for a book I’ve been eyeing for a while now, or browsing for coffee shops in my area that I want to try.
Do I really need to do this? Not really, but it makes such an impact for me in that short amount of time. I’ve been working hard and feeling stressed at the moment, so why not give myself a reward for all that I’ve done at my job that also gives me a boost in my mood. Rewarding yourself doesn’t have to be limited to something at the end of the day or week. It’s always there for you, adaptable to any situation that life throws at you. If you know when you need one, stop and receive it.
No excuses of “But if I just a little bit more, I can succeed more.” Nope! Put that thought down on your notes, scratch it out as many times as you need, and write that you are going to spend time on yourself now because you need it now. No other explanation needed.
I’ve spent too much time in the past beating myself over taking the time for myself when I felt like I should be doing more important obligations to be focusing on. “Becca, this isn’t gonna pay the bills.” “There are people all over the world who can’t afford to take time for themselves.” “Don’t be selfish, Becca.” At first, I thought that little voice was looking out for me, prioritizing what needed to come first before whatever reward I was going to give myself. But it was beyond wrong. Never postpone or put a deadline on how you treat yourself.
Taking the time for yourself is just as productive and necessary as sleeping. There’s no skipping it, even if you are feeling the pressure to get more and more things checked off your list. Without sleep, your body and mind breaks down and in no shape to keep going. Nobody wants to be an exhausted, drooling mess when it’s time to get down to business.
Simple Pleasures with No Strings Attached
Sometimes, the best rewards are the ones that come as a surprise. Especially when they are from somebody else with no strings attached.
Maybe the car in front of you at the drive-thru decides to pay for your meal just out of kindness. Or your close friends offer to help move your belongings into a new home, no asking on your part needed. Or, a favorite of mine, is when someone asks what you are reading, wanting to stop by the local bookstore the more you describe it to them. Now, imagine yourself in one of these scenes, or in the one that popped into your head right now. What are you feeling? Surprised by this random kindness from a stranger probably, but the best kind; the gift of unexpected happiness. They had no reason to give you this kind of happiness other than they could.
Why, just a few days ago, the lady in front of me at the Target check-out line saw I was buying a box of pork dumplings and said that that brand I was buying was her favorite. I was buying dumplings as a treat for myself, and the brand was my favorite, too. This lady made my self-reward that more special to me, affirming that my reward was so good, someone I never met before wanted to tell me her own love for these dumplings. That feeling stuck with me for the rest of the day, and I swear the dumplings somehow tasted more delicious than ever because of this wonderful stranger.
Whether intentional or not, the universe will send you a reward through the people around you expecting nothing in return. It recognizes that you’ve done more than your fair share of contributing to the game of life, and now it’s time for you to be given a thank you that means the world to you. Seize it, and you’ll find more joy than you thought you’d receive.
And, if you’re feeling the universe compel you to perform an act of kindness for someone else, try this: write down the things that someone has given you, with no strings attached, for which you are grateful. It can be an old sofa, some sound advice, or a lift to the airport. Now list ten things that you would like to give someone yourself, and see how many of those things you can cross off in a week.
- Drive a friend to the airport
- Carry groceries for an elder
- Babysit for a relative
- Buy a friend a cup of coffee
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Weed an older neighbor’s garden
- Take fresh-out-of-the-oven doughnuts to a senior center and hang out
This guest post was authored by Becca Anderson
Becca comes from a long line of preachers and teachers from Ohio and Kentucky. The teacher side of her family led Becca to become a women’s studies scholar who writes The Blog of Awesome Women. An avid collector of meditations, prayers, and blessings, she helps run a “Gratitude and Grace Circle” that meets monthly at homes, churches, and bookstores. Becca Anderson credits her spiritual practice with helping in her recovery from cancer and wants to share this with anyone who is facing difficulty in their life. She is the author of Think Happy to Stay Happy, Real Life Mindfulness, and Every Day Thankful. Becca shares her inspirational writings and suggested acts of kindness at https://thedailyinspoblog.wordpress.com/.