C’mon. I’d be lying if I said that “treat yo’ self” wasn’t my very favorite phrase in the entire world.
It is. I even hung the words up at our wedding, above our donut bar.
And now the sign hangs up in my office, right above my desk. It’s a kind and zesty reminder of how I want to live, and the goals in place to make that happen.
Why? Because that’s how I want to live: lavishly, with a lush, cushy, and comfortable set up. I want to give myself everything I deserve, starting and ending with all the treats my heart desires.
And while that’s nice, treating myself is not the same as practicing self care. It certainly can be—every once in a while—but regularly buying things will not restore the balance that my mind, body, and soul crave.
Self care who?
Self care is one of those things that is fundamental for living a happy and healthy life. Sadly, it has become a normal, everyday practice to neglect our needs in the name of busyness and productivity; instead, taking moments out to pay attention to ourselves is seen as a luxury that many ignore.
I’ve been there, between skipping meals, sleeping less, putting off friendships, not exercising, etc. Personal activities took a backseat to things that needed to get done: homework, cleaning, cooking, dishes, you name it—my adult to-do list has always seemed lengthy and important.
However, it’s proven that self care is one of those things that can actually help boost your progress in other areas of your life. If you take time for yourself, success in those adulting situations is more likely to happen.
- It can prevent burnout. That’s right: self care helps you avoid getting to the point where you have overwhelmed yourself, filled your plate too full, and pushed yourself to the point of complete frazzle, where you feel like giving up.
- Goodbye, stress. Stess is an important part of life and can be expected and even welcomed in small doses. However, long-term and high amounts of stress will literally break down the mind and the body, with lasting and severe consequences. Self care is an effective means of reducing stress, allowing you to operate at full capacity.
- Refocus with self care. Sometimes taking a quick break is a really effective way of getting back on track. If you’re feeling stuck, sneak away and do something for yourself. When you come back to the problem, you’ll perform better and be more relaxed.
Alternative Methods of Self Care
The next time you are in need of a mental or emotional recharge, try not to unload your shopping cart. Instead, try out these free (or close) methods that will help to restore internal balance and alleviate the symptoms of stress.
1. Read a book
Honestly, the best thing I have done for myself recently has been to open myself back up to reading. Books allow you to escape and feel alive in ways that everyday life doesn’t necessarily provide. And, you can choose your own adventure, in a way: go for a genre that fits your mood, and what you crave. A thriller can be something to seek your teeth into, a romance novel to spark some feelings, or a self-help book to learn some new ways to take care of yourself.
The best part: books are totally free! If you take advantage of your local library, that is. (Do it!) Many libraries also allow you to rent digital and audio books, too, so you never have to leave the comfort of your online browser.
2. Soak It Off
If you don’t have access to a hot springs nearby, or the price of admission isn’t sustainable for regular use, you can replicate the experience in your own bathtub. Draw yourself a bath, soak, and meditate. If you want, you can add things like fizzy salts, bubbles, or candles to set the mood and enhance your senses. Some people like to bring a book and wine into the equation, and I can’t argue with that relaxing logic.
3. Journal, Baby
This one is a harder habit to get into, because it requires a bit of discipline. Journaling is such a good way to release whatever is trapped in your head, and transfer your energy.
You don’t need much; while gorgeous bound-books and bullet journals are aesthetically pleasing, you can hand-write your thoughts on a simple piece of lined paper, or open up a Word document. You can even start a blog, and don’t have to publish anything, if you don’t want anyone to see.
It’s not even a requirement to write a lot. Last year, I wrote in a one-line a day journal. It was liberating and so cool to go through at the end and catch myself up on my year of feelings. It really was a way to treat myself, and take care of my soul.
4. Get The Heck Outside
Sometimes I have to force myself to go outside. When my daily routine seems daunting, a break in the fresh air is really necessary. It doesn’t have to be extreme or last very long—I’ll go for a walk, or sit outside in my hammock for half an hour. If I had the time and resources, maybe I’d go drive to the lake and paddle my canoe. I’m not there yet, but that sounds like a refreshing escape.
There is something about being outdoors that is therapeutic. Even if you live in the city, the sounds of the hustle and bustle can reconnect you, in many ways. It doesn’t have to be exercise-related, but I do highly recommend stepping out your door for a few minutes to clear your head.
5. Watch Something
One of my favorite ways to relax is to indulge myself in a movie or television show on Netflix. I’m a total TV-head; though one of my resolutions is less screen-time, sometimes an engaging or entertaining binge-session is exactly what I need to treat myself.
Though this usually does cost the subscription price of the streaming service, you can also dig into your own collection of movies. I’ve been known to claw my way through my old VHS collection and watch a childhood favorite (like Babe, The Wedding Singer, or Homeward Bound) when I need a little me-time. And it’s glorious.
What are your favorite ways to relax and treat yo’ self?