Welcome to Self-Care Saturdays, a series of bonus blog posts that will be released on the last Saturday of each month. In a world where we are constantly faced with demands on our time and energy, it can feel impossible to slow down enough to pay attention to our own needs and take steps to care for them. These articles are meant to get you thinking about one small step you can take today to practice kindness and care for yourself.
If you’re familiar at all with the NBC show Parks and Recreation, you’ll be familiar with the phrase (and holiday) that’s gained popularity in our everyday vocabulary: “Treat Yo’ Self!” The premise, as described by Donna and Tom, is to spend a day shopping, eating delicious food, and generally doing fun things for yourself that you wouldn’t normally do otherwise.
Treating yourself, while inherently fun, also has health benefits that make this practice worth it. When you practice self-compassion, or being kind to yourself, research shows it can improve your psychological well-being and physical health . It improves your productivity at school and at work to take occasional breaks. It can increase your happiness and positive mood, make you more resilient, and help you respond more positively to negative events or beliefs about yourself. Self-care as a whole has huge benefits for depression, as it directly combats the negative patterns of thinking that so often characterize this disorder.
A huge component of treating yourself is the idea of self-nurture. It is unfortunately common to grow up without a good understanding of how to nurture ourselves. We may have had parents who struggled to nurture or care for us, or didn’t have the financial resources to provide that care. As an adult, however, it is crucially important to practice this self-nurturance to improve your self-worth and self-value.
If you find yourself skimping or depriving yourself often, treating yourself can be a big gift to yourself. At the same time, it’s important not to go overboard. If you splurge too much or too impulsively, you can get hit with financial stress or regret afterwards. If it’s out of a heart of self-indulgence, this can develop into an addiction or unhealthy reliance on that “treat” to cope. It will leave you feeling like you never really get what you want, or it's not enough. Avoid this trap by making a specific plan ahead of time to treat yourself, rather than doing so impulsively. Then if you feel uncomfortable with the treat, you can adjust it to what feels right.
What are some ways you can treat yourself?
Every once in a while, take the opportunity to spend a little extra money on yourself.
Get a fancy manicure or pedicure: go a tier up from what you usually get.
Go out to a nice restaurant that serves your favorite cuisine.
Purchase something beautiful from your favorite store.
Put together an outfit at a clothing store (from shoes to shirt to earrings) and buy it.
Gift yourself a floral bouquet.
Buy a gift for a friend just because.
Take a class on a topic you love (cooking, art, music).
The most physically relaxing and comforting experience might be giving yourself a day at the spa, whether that’s inside or outside of your home.
Soak in a bath with essential oils.
Give yourself an at-home manicure or pedicure – and don’t skimp on any step! Soaking, buffing, cuticle care, filing…make it as much like a spa nail treatment as you can.
Wear comfortable clothes, like a fluffy robe or fuzzy slippers.
Get a massage.
Care for your skin with a face mask.
I can’t seem to get enough of talking about how important it is to take a day of rest (likely because it’s the area where I need to grow the most). Rest can feel countercultural and like a treat in our busy, fast-paced lives.
Indulge in your favorite hobby for an entire morning or afternoon.
Go to see a new film in theaters or watch an old favorite.
Play a game you enjoy.
Have a dance party!
They call it "comfort food" for a reason: having a delicious treat can fire up the feel-good neurochemicals in your brain. Take care to make this an occasional practice, rather than turning to food every time you need a boost.
Bake a delicious dessert or craft a savory treat.
Make a special breakfast or meal that reminds you of your childhood.
Cook yourself your favorite meal.
Buy your favorite coffee or tea drink from a coffee shop.
What are the ways you can treat yo’ self this week?
Do you long for a day to treat yourself, but feel too busy or guilty about taking one? Are you struggling with depression and believing that you aren’t worth nurturing? At Restored Hope, I’d love to come alongside you on your path to healing from painful experiences. At my Ann Arbor therapy office, I offer counseling to help you experience freedom from depression and anxiety. Give me a call at 734.656.8191 or fill out the form here to talk with me today.