May 14, 2015

25 Non-Food Rewards for When You Deserve a Treat.


One aspect of self-care is rewarding yourself for all the hard work you do, be it at your job, with your family, in school or on your body.

I love to give myself lots of treats.

They keep me motivated and provide a sense of abundance in my life, but I grew up in a family that loved to celebrate everything from birthdays to anniversaries and every milestone in between with food. We’d go out to a big dinner or throw huge parties at home and stuff ourselves and pretty soon I started associating eating with happiness. Rewarding myself with decadent food became an unhealthy habit that I wanted to break. It was hard at first, but I decided to come up with a running list of non-edible goodies that were much better for me than dessert for those times when I deserve something special:

  1. Go get a massage.
  2. A manicure and/or pedicure. Hint: Men love these, too.
  3. Take a hot bubble bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil. Light candles and play spa music.
  4. Buy a bouquet of flowers or a new houseplant.
  5. New books. When I want to treat myself, I usually get something that feels like a guilty pleasure, like those new thrillers everyone’s talking about with the surprise endings.
  6. Small bottles of natural perfume—there are lots of to choose from at your favorite natural foods stores.
  7. Get a new haircut.
  8. Indulge by binge watching a new series on TV. Lounge on the couch and get lost in the on-screen intrigue and forget all about work for a few hours.
  9. Go on a long, slow, meandering walk. Schedule nothing else for the rest of the day and see where your feet lead you.
  10. Declare it a beach day and relax beside the nearest body of water—the ocean, a lake, a pond or a river.
  11. Go away for the weekend, even if it’s not very far. I find this incredibly fun and rejuvenating.
  12. Sign up for a yoga workshop.
  13. Spend a whole afternoon strolling around boutique shopping. You don’t even have to buy anything. The fun part is being out and looking at interesting, new things.
  14. Get yourself an essential oil diffuser. I am in love with mine. It’s pretty and makes my whole house smell fresh without a lot of chemicals. Every time I look at it, I feel happy.
  15. Plant a row of sunflowers in the yard. No yard? Plant them in pots. In about two months you’ll have the most glorious row of flowers you’ve ever seen. This reward is worth the wait and teaches me not to always depend on instant gratification.
  16. Schedule a grown-up playdate with a friend and set off on an adventure.
  17. Go canoeing or kayaking. If you don’t own one and your friends don’t either, lots of places rent them out.
  18. Visit your local art or history museum.
  19. Go see a play. Even community theater or the local high school’s production is a ton of fun.
  20. Do volunteer work. The Jewish religion teaches that the reward for a good deed is the chance to do another good deed. I have always loved this sentiment. Any time we can help others is a reward.
  21. Ride the rides at an amusement park. Even if it’s just the merry-go-round.
  22. See a movie, and yes, you can go to the movies alone. It’s actually pretty fun, just be sure to skip the popcorn and candy.
  23. Pay someone to clean your house. Some of the best money I’ve ever spent.
  24. Seek out some live music. Relax and enjoy the show. If it’s outdoors, all the better.
  25. Treat yourself to a new pair of shoes. We always feel our best when our feet our comfortable, so toss out the ratty old sneakers and find a new pair that feel and look good. I don’t like to wear shoes much at all, so my weakness is comfy flip flops and they never have to be expensive.

Treating ourselves once in a while is important, healthy and fun. It shows that we value ourselves—but when we use food as a reward too often, an occasional treat can turn into a bad habit, thus defeating the whole purpose of a treat. With these twenty-five non-food rewards, we can be kind to ourselves while also understanding that having a full stomach doesn’t always equal fulfillment.


Author: Victoria Fedden

Editor: Alli Sarazen

Photo: Isengardt/Flickr

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