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How To Reward Yourself Without Spending A Dime

April 30, 2010

What do you do when you’re feeling down? When you have a bad day? When you’re stressed out? Do you go out and get the ingredients to make your grandmother’s famous deep-fried chocolate and whiskey cheesecake bombs? Do you go to the convenience store and buy a box of Ho-Hos? Do you head to the local mall for a new pair of heels? (Do people even shop at malls anymore?) Do you procure a pile of trashy magazines and a bottle of wine?

You get the idea: sometimes you just feel like you need a little something extra to enhance your mood. I’m here today to ask two questions:

  1. Wouldn’t you rather reward yourself with something that doesn’t cost money?
  2. Better yet, wouldn’t you rather get to the root of why you need to reward and soothe yourself, instead of turning to food or shopping or all night dance parties with the local trucker population?

Free Stuff is the Best Stuff

Let’s say it’s just been one of those days. I had one a couple of days ago, myself. And let’s say you’re not feeling like getting to the root of the issue at this particular moment, you just want some peanut butter fudge croissants sautéed in bourbon butter sauce and drizzled with caramel flavored lard. Unfortunately, you don’t have the ingredients on hand/you’d have to drive to the local Ecole du Lardo restaurant to get a serving, and it’s going to run you at least 8 bucks plus tip.

Or maybe on your way home from a crappy day at that cubicle you call an office you pass your favorite store, the tarty tart, and are struck with the urge to buy a new tube top and some bedazzled hot pants to forget your troubles. And then you remember that the last time you did this you couldn’t pay rent.

What’s a human to do? Come up with something to soothe yourself with that’s free, that’s what. Here are some fantastic ideas I just pulled from my brain at this very moment:

  • Right now it’s springtime. The world is a beautiful place full of flowers, blooming trees, sunshine, rainbows, and lollipops. Take a walk anywhere that’s safe and nature is abundant. Count how many different types of flowers you see, or how many times the pollen makes you sneeze so you stay aware of your surroundings. Stop on a bench somewhere and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Give thanks for this time you’ve had to yourself to enjoy nature.
  • Raid your cupboards – but with the intention of making something for a loved one. Using whatever you’ve got on hand, make a loaf of quick bread or a batch of cookies for a neighbor. Whip up a pasta salad for your coworkers. Make a healthy dinner for yourself and your family, one that you’ll be proud to serve.
  • Rummage through your closet for clothes you and your loved ones have forgotten. If they don’t fit, put them in a pile for the local Salvation Army or other donation-type place. Bag ’em up and take them right now, before you lose your motivation. Doesn’t it feel good to do something for someone else?
  • Go somewhere quiet in your house, light a few candles, and lay down on a carpet or mat. Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Take 10 deep breaths, noticing the air moving through your chest and filling up your abdomen. Once you are feeling relaxed, do some light stretching.
  • Pull out the finger paints, the yarn, the construction paper, whatever you’ve got on hand and create something beautiful. Make some fridge art, create a card for a loved one, make a sign for your kid’s bedroom door.

Get to the Root, Give it the Boot!

You might be at a place in your life where you really want to stop those stressed out feelings and emotional behaviors. If you’re tired of always reaching for something other than your journal and pen to express your fears and stress, try something new:

  • Go somewhere quiet in your house, light a few candles, and lay down on a carpet or mat. Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Take 10 deep breaths, noticing the air moving through your chest and filling up your abdomen. This time when you’ve gotten to a quiet, calm place, do a body scan. Where are you holding your tension? What is your body trying to tell you? Is your stomach hurting because you’re filled with worry? Let this be a safe time to think about what is really happening in your life. When you’ve finished scanning your body and assessing what’s bothering you, repeat the following: “I can handle anything that comes my way. I deserve to live my best life. I intend to take good care of myself.”
  • Write/create/express yourself silly. Start by putting on some music that fits your mood, maybe something soothing, maybe something high energy, perhaps something melancholy. The idea is to enhance your mood to bring your emotions to the surface. Sit quietly for a few minutes listening, and when you’re ready, start writing whatever you’re feeling. If writing isn’t your thing, try drawing or creating a collage made from images that reflect what you’re feeling. You want to feel what you’re feeling instead of avoiding it. When you’ve gotten it down on paper, look it over, thank yourself for being brave enough to express yourself, and save your creative expression to look over the next time you’re feeling the same way. Who knows, it could unlock a fear that you didn’t know you had, which makes it that much easier to overcome!

How do you reward yourself? Are you happy with your methods for relieving stress?

Come back this afternoon for this awesome sweet potato bread recipe with a secret ingredient! No oil or sugar in this delicious loaf!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2010 8:27 am

    Great post! I usually find on a bad day I just need to go for a walk and/or journal – usually after collecting my thoughts for a bit I feel much better and am able to put things into perspective!

  2. May 1, 2010 5:38 pm

    This was such a great post 🙂 I actually was having a sort of bad day (I shouldn’t have been feeling down but I was) so I treated myself to a walk 🙂 Well, I also rented a movie, but still 😉

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