We all deserve rewards (heck, most of us deserve A-wards). It is in every creature’s nature to respond to the reward system because they help in survival, growth, joy and achievement. But not all rewards are created equal. Think about what you typically do to reward a hard-day’s work. I’m guessing it is either with computer/TV or sugar/alcohol. Are the effects of these rewards all positive and long term? I’ll answer for you, they are not. They are quick rewards with a little bit of naughty which adds to the satisfaction factor, but they are harmful to your brain, body, emotions (train to repress and regress), and sleep.
Instead? Love yourself enough to start generating a list of go-to rewards to mix in your normal routine and keep it healthier, for when stress hits, or for giving yourself special rewards for special occasions. You can find things that give you the same feeling of reward but last longer and are not damaging.
The most important part of the reward system, however, is your VALIDATION of it. So no matter what ends up on your reward list whenever you implement one luxuriate in it – give yourself a pat on the back at the same time.
I challenged myself for the photo with this post to give myself a visible double thumbs up (full smile). Wow, it’s hard but powerfully satisfying. In addition to coming up with your reward list I challenge you to look in the mirror and give yourself a smiling double-thumbs up. Send me pics – I’d LOVE it!
Here are some ideas to get you started on your list!
- Save – Delayed gratification is an important skill to develop. Save some money for something special for yourself! Of course retail therapy is fun, but when shopping reaches that point it is not beneficial for your health or your pocketbook (or probably your marriage…). This is a much healthier way to satisfy that innate need to “have”.
- Bath – Grab your favorite bath salts!
- Spa day – Pedicure, haircut, massage, you decide!
- Play time – Even if you don’t feel like this you will ALWAYS be glad you made yourself get some play time – this time without the kids (typically I advise to play with them). Find YOUR way to play (no screen): coloring books (they make great grown up versions now), sports, go to the park, visit a youthful touristy place (carousel!), or have good sex with your spouse. Exercise is amazing reward when you approach it as such.
- New skill – Take a class on something you’ve wanted to learn, or read a book or YouTube course.
- Water! – Get sparkling bottled water that is all yours, to make this essential item, which we all need more of, a reward. I like to do this and write “Mom” on it.
- READ – Find a book. Once you are into it you’ll binge read instead of binge Netflix-ing. Choose something inappropriate for kids (murder mysteries, etc) to up the satisfaction factor.
- Take in the arts! – Go to the museum, check out the newest art exhibit, see a theatre show, or go see some music.
- Redecorate – YOUR space.
- Healthy snacks – Look, eating as a reward SHOULD be done. All eating is a reward or we would not eat. But just as reward eating doesn’t have to mean tons of sugar, eating healthy doesn’t have to mean yuck-o. Choosing something nostalgic (Popcorn is huge in our house), or purchasing something that is “Mine” (jalapeno flavored GMO-free corn chips or cinnamon applesauce). You know what you shouldn’t eat, but here’s a reminder: avoid sugar, heavily processed foods, and transfats. Do eat fruits, veggies, and good proteins = real food!