* An entire block of Parmesan. Not on something, mind you. Just the cheese. Just the brick. I just hold it in my hand and take bites of it like an apple.
* Piles of $5 lady magazines
* Not brushing my teeth before bed (??!!??)
In case you’re keeping track, exactly zero of those things are good for me. In excess, each of those things is pretty detrimental to my physical and emotional well-being.
But here I sit, ‘rewarding’ myself with things that – if I’m not careful – will give me a stomachache, make me feel less-than, and give me cavities.
And what’s even more ridiculous is that I’m often treating myself after a hard, frustration-filled day. And what am I frustrated about? Oh, you know, feeling less than or drained or urpy.
I am literally engaging in ‘reward’ behavior that will make me feel worse in the long run!
Stop it, self. Stop. It.
I want better for myself. And if you are human and occasionally treat yourself in not-particularly-healthy ways, I rounded up 23 ways we can reward ourselves that don’t involve buying or eating anything.
1. Take a nap
Sleeping is awesome and I bet about 99.7% of us aren’t getting enough of it. Make your nap even more treat-like by changing your pillow case (it gives you that ‘new sheet’ feeling with less work), taking off your bra and spraying a bit of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil onto your pillow.
2. Give yourself a mani or pedi
Add a few drops of essential oil and body wash to a pretty bowl of warm water and soak your extremities while you watch an episode of Broad City. If you don’t have a manicure or pedicure set, push your cuticles back with a wet washcloth. If you’re feeling fancy, exfoliate with a brown sugar body scrub and slick on a few coats of a color you love.
3. Re-read a favorite book
Resist the urge to treat yourself to a new book purchase! Trawl your local library the way you’d trawl a used bookstore or just re-read one of your favorite ‘comfort reading’ books. I’ve been reading a few chapters of this book every morning and I JUST LOVE IT.
4. Take a day off work for no reason at all
And then don’t run a single errand or go to a single appointment! YOU CAN DO IT I HAVE FAITH IN YOU. Use your day off to do awesomely unproductive things: sleep in, make yourself a big pancake breakfast, explore new parts of your neighborhood, Skype with friends in other time zones, write a letter to your Grandma. Nap.
5. Take a hot bath
Add powdered milk. Or flower petals. Or Epsom salts or bubble bath. Turn on your favorite mellow music, light a few candles, and stay in the tub so long you wrinkle and raisin.
6. Have a Netflix movie marathon
Now, this is a personal preference, but I think the best movie marathons are movies that you’ve already seen and/or movies that don’t require rapt attention. You need to be able to fall asleep halfway through or get up and make yourself popcorn! Suggested marathons: The Anne Of Green Gables movies, BBC’s Pride & Prejudice, all the Wes Anderson movies, all the Judd Apatow movies, everything Dolly Parton has ever starred in.
7. Listen to your favorite music
Make a playlist of all your absolute favorite music, choosing not to care if it’s thematically similar, segues nicely, or is ‘embarrassing.’ My favorite playlist goes like this: Dolly Parton, The Knux, Pharrell, Kasey Musgraves, Ke$ha, Flo Rida, Beirut. WUT.
8. Visit a pet shelter
So many snuggles and cuddles! And you don’t have to clean fur off your sofa or worry about that spot on the rug!
9. Take an aimless walk WITHOUT YOUR PHONE
Getting out into nature is lovely and calming and centering. Getting out into nature without the temptation to tweet, update, or Instagram about it is exponentially more lovely, calming, and centering. I’ll do it if you will.
10. Make a DIY face mask
It’s a cliché for a reason, that reason being: it’s awesome. You probably have everything you need for a face mask in your kitchen right now.
11. Go for a drive
Do you live near a body of water or a mountain/bluff/large hill-type thing? Go for a drive near it or on it. It’ll be sweet and relaxing and refreshing. Promise.
12. Watch a Youtube makeup tutorial and experiment
Do you, too, have a whole drawer of lipsticks and bronzers and eyeliners you’re not using? Have a search through Youtube and see if you can find some new ways to use them. Do you know how to contour? Do a real, serious cat eye? I don’t. Let’s learn!
13. Walk near some water with someone you love
Ahhhhhhh. Feel those shoulders come down from around your ears and your blood pressure drop.
14. Devote some time to self-pleasure
15. Go for a nice bike ride
Not to get exercise. Not to pick up some milk or tire out the dog. Ride someplace pretty and scenic and not overrun with other cyclists. Ride at a pace that feels easy and good and notice what’s happening around you.
17. Go window shopping
This is almost as fun as actual shopping. Pack yourself a travel mug of something sip-able and then wander through your city’s swankiest shopping district. Peek into the windows and imagine where, exactly, you’d wear that avant-garde cape that costs $3,000.
19. People watch
One of my all-time favorite activities is watching people and making up stories about them. Second favorite activity: going for ‘house walks’ with my BFF and making up stories about the people who live in said houses.
A few of my favorite people-watching places: the airport, any public transportation hub, any downtown area during lunch hour or after work, flea markets, farmers’ markets, anywhere near a stadium on a big game day.
20. Take time to do your hair and makeup
Even if you’re not going anywhere. Every time I take the 10 minutes required to apply eyeliner and curl my hair I’m floored by how different I look and how confident I feel.
21. Watch a Youtube yoga or dance tutorial
Youtube dance tutorials are The Actual Best And Most Fun. No one ever has to know what you look like when you’re twerking! You can just keep rewinding and re-trying till you either a) get it b) collapse from laughing at yourself.
22. If you already have a gym membership, go there and take advantage of the non-athletic stuff
I mean, you can also go to the gym and work out but I don’t think that’s much of a treat, do you? Does your gym have a sauna? Or a hot tub? Go have a soak or a steam!
23. Shave your legs and put clean sheets on your bed
This is probably the best any of us will ever feel in our entire lives.
Do you ever find yourself ‘treating’ yourself in ways that aren’t actually …. beneficial? What are your favorite non-buying, non-eating rewards?
P.P.S. Did you know I have a (free) private Facebook group dedicated solely to the topics of money and happiness? And the stuff we talk about has helped members change jobs, save thousands of dollars, and fight less with their partners? Join us!