There are five components to living a healthy life. The first four are common knowledge: eat nutritious food, move your body, nurture relationships, and establish good lifestyle habits. The fifth element, on the other hand, may come as a pleasant surprise. A healthy life includes treating yourself on a regular basis.
Why Is It Important To Treat Yourself?
Giving yourself a gift—be that physical, mental, or emotional—is a sign of self-gratitude and appreciation, which is essential for your overall wellbeing. Studies have shown that grateful people generally experience better health and improved relationships, and are more likely to prioritize healthy living in general. (1,2)
Treats are also a fun and useful tool for helping build healthy habits. Neurologically, it’s easier to form and maintain new habits when there is some kind of reward on the other side. (3) If we don’t get that positive feedback, we’re more likely to get burned out or distracted, and fall back into old routines.
The Mindset Of Treating Yourself
Simple as it may seem, the request for most people to treat themselves to something that makes them smile brings up a lot of resistance. For many, the choice to treat themselves sounds overly indulgent—self-sacrifice feels like the more stoic and responsible thing to do. But in depriving ourselves from daily doses of joy, we eventually feel ignored, drained, and even bitter. This can lead to feeling that we deserve to be rewarded, which is not a healthy belief.
On the flip side, by regularly treating ourselves we are reinforcing the belief that we are worthy of receiving love and kindness, and living a lifestyle that makes us feel content.
That feeling of security—being pleased with who we are and how we live—actually increases our desire, and ability, to give to others. The more we have, the more we have to give: financially, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually.
Treating yourself brings with it an abundance that you can then share with those around you.
What Are Healthy Treats?
A treat, or a gift, can be anything that brings you pleasure. If you say it’s a treat, so it becomes. For me, the smell of freshly cut grass is a treat, as is having a friend pop by for a tea. The reward is in the experience.
When it comes to choosing treats that increase your gratitude AND motivation, it’s important to know what you find most valuable and meaningful. That means that your definition of treats may be different from mine, and may change at different stages of your life.
One word of warning: treating yourself should enhance your life, not sabotage it, which is where this concept can get a little fuzzy. A treat isn’t a treat if, moments after the dopamine hit has passed, you are left feeling regretful or guilty. What comes to mind is shopping for things that you don’t need, or over-eating foods that aren’t good for you.
To treat yourself with love and respect, you must choose treats that align with that belief.
How To Treat Yourself On A Budget
To make this a sustainable practice, and one that fills you with delight (not debt), I’ve pulled together a list of 15 ways to treat yourself that won’t break the bank.
1. Watch a funny video.
I can’t think of a better treat than having a good belly chuckle. Subscribe to YouTube videos or Instagram feeds with videos that make you smile, and check in with them on a regular basis.
2. Leave work early and play.
While “work-life-balance” may be a misnomer, that doesn’t mean you can’t add a little more life-play into your workday. Choose one day every two weeks where you’ll leave the office an hour early, and go and do something FUN (whatever that word means for you).
3. Have a couples massage (with a friend).
A massage is the #treatyoself triple threat—physically therapeutic, mentally calming, and, let’s be honest, it just feels luxurious. If going solo is out of budget, consider a couples massage (they’re usually cheaper per person), and invite a friend.
4. Trial one week on a Paleo meal delivery service.
Imagine not cooking dinner for an entire week—is that a treat or what?! While some meal delivery services are expensive, others offer more affordable packages. Plus, when you add up the cost of groceries, eating out, and time spent in the kitchen, it really might pay for itself. (Tip: many services offer new client specials or a discount if you refer a friend.)
5. Buy a new pillow.
Considering that you spend one-third of your life in bed, don’t you think that a good pillow is a worthy treat? Buy the best quality pillow that you can afford, and smile in cranial comfort each night when you lay your head down to rest.
6. Rearrange the pantry.
There’s something extremely satisfying about clearing clutter, especially in the kitchen. Spend an hour on the weekend wiping shelves, retiring old spices, and making a list of new tasty treats to buy.
7. Sit in nature.
The best treats are often the most simple (and free), such as finding a peaceful place in nature to sit and soak up the sun. Depending on where you live, this might mean reading a book in a park, pottering in your garden, hiking in the woods, or floating in the sea. Being able to ground your feet in mother nature, and reconnect with the earth, is the ultimate gift.
8. Maximize one bunch of flowers.
Fresh flowers can be quite inexpensive, especially if you have access to a local farmers’ market (or better yet, your own garden). To get more bang for your buck, buy one bunch, divide them, and arrange the flowers in different rooms around the house.
9. Scour secondhand book stores.
Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, but the cost of buying new books can quickly add up. Instead, visit your local secondhand stores and see what’s on offer. The thrill of the hunt is as much a treat as the book itself!
10. Sleep in.
This is your permission to hit snooze from time-to-time. Treating yourself to a sleep in at least one day a week tends to have a relaxing ripple effect on the rest of the day. Oh, and you’ll appreciate your new pillow even more!
11. Plan your next vacation.
If you love travel, you shouldn’t let your tight budget stop you from planning your next trip. There is so much joy to be found in the planning process—researching and scrapbooking ideas provides hours of pleasure, and will come in handy for that day when your suitcase and savings account align.
12. Reserve special items for weekend use.
Just as your grandma might have kept the good china for Christmas dinner, having certain items that you only use on the weekend will maintain their treat status. Suggestions include a nice wine glass, your favorite pajamas, or even candles.
13. Ride a bike.
I’m not talking Soul Cycle here, but to actually get outside and ride a bike, just like you used to as a kid.
14. Give yourself an at-home pedicure.
A trip to the salon might not fit into your budget, but that doesn’t mean your tootsies can’t receive a little TLC. To make it even more special, treat yourself to a (natural) new polish color.
15. Bake a healthy and delicious treat.
When eaten mindfully, sweet food is a great treat. Here are some Paleo desserts to get you salivating.