Life can be tough. Working every day in order to save up enough money and time off for a holiday can be exhausting, and in many ways makes little sense. The key to getting through life is rewarding yourself; taking the opportunity to take the pressure off and giving yourself a little pat on the back for doing the hard yards.
However, so many of us get caught in the trap of rewarding ourselves in ways that really aren’t good for us in the long run. Junk food and impulse shopping are the two major ways that people treat themselves, and neither of them have any real positive benefits in the long term. This can be a bit of a quandary – how can we enjoy the present, while also enjoying the future?
The thing is, you can have your cake and eat it too. All it takes is a little bit of discipline and some creative thinking. We’ve asked around and pored over the web for the top 15 ways to reward yourself that aren’t food or shopping.
1. Take a nap.
There’s nothing more rewarding than a well-earned nap. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures, to curl up with a book or a favorite TV show and doze off. It’s cheap, very easy, and (as long as you don’t do it all the time) doesn’t have any negative consequences.
2. Re-read a favorite book.
We’ve all got our favorite authors and our favorite novels. Go through your bookshelf and pick something out that you’ve loved in the past. It won’t cost anything, and it can give you a great dopamine boost (no matter how many times you’ve flipped those pages).
3. Take a day off.
You don’t always need a reason to take a day off work. Sometimes, the best days are those that are completely unplanned. Take a day off work, wake up early, and go wherever the wind takes you (as Pocahontas would say).
4. Run a hot bath.
There are very few things as rewarding or relaxing as sitting back in a hot bath with a glass of red wine and simply laying there. Grab a cheap bottle of Shiraz, light some candles, crank some Elton John, and enjoy the feeling of your toes wrinkling up.
5. Movie marathons.
The best type of marathon is a movie marathon, because you can do it sitting on your couch. If you’re keen on a serious movie marathon, pick a trilogy and settle in. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Spiderman, Batman – the list goes on. There are plenty of great movies that come in threes, and they’re ideal for a marathon.
Sometimes, sitting back and listening to a well-crafted album is the best thing ever. Whether you’re into heavy metal, rap or even piano, there are some amazing albums out there that are an absolute delight to experience in full.
7. Take a walk.
This has to be one of the best ways to reward yourself that doesn’t involve food or shopping. Leave the phone at home and take a long walk. You can learn a lot about your neighborhood by simply wandering around. Alternatively, you can travel to a nearby nature reserve and hit the hiking trails.
8. Go for a drive.
We almost always get in our cars with a destination in mind. However, a long Sunday drive can be a great way to unwind and simply enjoy the act of driving. Once upon a time, this was a very popular pastime.
9. Hit the beach.
You don’t have to wade into the water. It doesn’t matter what time of the year you go – taking a walk alongside the ocean is almost always a relaxing experience. Soak in the vastness of the ocean and breathe in the fresh sea air – it’s very cathartic.
10. Go for a bike ride.
You don’t have to ride for the exercise. Just go for a ride and enjoy it. Before you know it, you’ll be challenging yourself to get to the top of a hill as fast as possible, and then you’ll be enjoying the trip down the other side. Bike riding is a very effective way to release dopamine, and exercise always has a longer-lasting positive effect than wolfing down a cake or impulsively buying something you’ll never use anyway.
11. Free culture.
There are plenty of free art displays, performances, museums and libraries in most major cities. If you haven’t visited one in a while, give it a go. It’s always great to get out and experience something new that was created by others.
12. Dress up.
You don’t need to be going to a wedding to put a load of effort into your hair, makeup and clothes. Just for kicks, try dressing yourself up really nice one day. You could always go to an event afterwards of course, but sometimes just making yourself look great can be very rewarding.
13. Go to the gym.
You don’t have to work out. You could go for a leisurely swim or relax in the sauna, or sit on the bikes and watch some TV for a while. A gym visit doesn’t have to be a grueling, sweaty experience – it can be fun, too.
14. YouTube Tutorials.
There are some amazing YouTube channels with tutorials on a huge range of subjects. If you want to try something new, or simply learn more about a particular field, YouTube tutorials are a great place to start. Want to learn how to throw a punch, or bust an awesome dance move, or cook a soufflé? There’s a YouTube tutorial for that. Once you’ve gone down the rabbit hole, you will be surprised at the amazing amount of stuff that you can learn online.
15. Body Care.
Been a while since your last pedicure? When was the last time you sat back with a refreshing face mask? It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget to take time out for yourself. Visit the hairdresser or nail salon and get those things taken care of – you’ll feel great afterwards and have something to show for it other than a sugar crash or shopping guilt.
There are dozens of ways to reward yourself that aren’t food or shopping. Getting something quality in return for your time and money is important, so next time you’re feeling down or bored, try something on this list instead of opening the fridge or logging onto Amazon.