If you’re like most people, treating yourself is the last thing you’re thinking about at the end of December. There are so many parties, pageants, and functions to attend; a mini-fortune’s worth of gifts to buy; and enough food and drink available to break your bathroom scale. But if someone asked, I bet you’d be able to come up with a good sized list of ways you’d like to treat yourself.
Let’s face it, it’s not hard to think up great ways to treat yourself, but can be hard to think of ways that won’t break the bank, take all day, or are even in the realm of possibility. I mean, we’d all love a spa day topped off with a meal prepared and served by someone else. Maybe get a sitter for the night, so the “little angels” are asleep when we get home. Or just a morning where the cat doesn’t wake you up by laying on your face, giving you a mouthful of hair as you wake up gasping for breath.
There are a lot of articles, podcasts, and presentations about self care out there, most of them aimed at women. I’ll admit to rolling my eyes at some of the suggestions and thinking “‘Who can afford that?’ or ‘Who has time for that?’ or ‘Can you actually train a cat to not suffocate you while you sleep?'” Yes, it would be great to have an afternoon to myself and a big ole pizza with an order of breadsticks and a cookie dough chaser. And maybe a bottle of wine. But that’s not particularly healthy. Well, the afternoon alone is healthy but it’s not necessarily realistic for many women, especially if there are young kids and/or a spouse who’s a bit attached to traditional gender roles.
I’m all about realistic. When it comes to self care or treating yourself, that often takes the form of activities that aren’t expensive, don’t involve food (but I won’t rule out the wine), and will make you feel good about how you spent that time. Here’s a list of my favorites (bonus: most of these you can do with kids).
If you’re the kind of person who can’t sleep during the day, napping can be more like torture. But guided meditation is a whole other story. It gives your mind something (easy) to do so the rest of you can relax a bit. There are plenty of free guided meditations online. Check out the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center website and the free version of the Headspace app, which has plenty of options to get you started.
When was the last time you read for pleasure? Even if you can’t get to your library, there are plenty of free ebooks on Amazon (that you can read on the kindle app for mobile, laptop, and desktop devices if you don’t have an actual kindle reader), and your local library probably has a free online borrowing program. Here in Grand Rapids, both the Grand Rapids Public Library and Kent District Libraries allow you to check out e-books. Or you can reread some of your favorite books if you have them hanging around.
If you choose the topic right, learning is great self-care. Pick a topic for FUN. Don’t feel like you need to learn something pertinent to your work or a current hobby. Check out Coursera, MIT or Harvard to start. (But there are PLENTY of sources for free online classes, do your own searching, too!) You can even learn a language with the free DuoLingo app on your smartphone.
Bust out a piece for paper and draw something. Even if you don’t have fancy pencils or crayons or markers, you can play with shading and pressure and make something cool. If you can’t even draw recognizable stick figures, you can color other people’s drawing. There are plenty of free coloring pages you can download and print out.
For nearly every song out there, there’s a karaoke accompaniment channel on YouTube. For reals. Crank it up and let ‘er rip. You’re a stress-free superstar now.
Put your jammies on and take a nap. In your bed. Not all jammed up on the couch with the TV on. Close the shades in your bedroom and hunker down for a proper sleep. And if you can nap, I’m a bit jealous because try as I might, I just can’t do it. My husband, on the other hand, loves loves loves his naps.
There. You don’t have to spend money or fill your belly to feel great and treat yourself well!