Friday chatter: How do you treat yourself?


One of the things I’ve been trying to do lately is give myself regular treats.

Not rewards for working hard or for accomplishing anything in particular. Just little daily niceties as a reminder to treat myself nicely, to enjoy the little things, and to slow down a bit.

The problem is, I don’t want to always reward myself with material things, because I don’t like the idea of relying on spending money to feel better. Plus, I tend to think that spending money is the opposite of slowing down (since that money has to come from somewhere, you’ve usually traded your time for it).

Here are a few ways I’ve tried to treat myself lately:

  • A hot bath and a good book (usually from the library, though I’m enjoying the subscription to The Paris Review Kenn got me for Christmas.)
  • Sitting in front of a roaring fire at the end of a long cold winter day (Kenn’s been doing the upside down fire method, it’s awesome).
  • Taking time to sew something for myself or my house (preferably with a cup of tea close at hand).
  • Giving myself a manicure.
  • Packing some delicious food and going for a hike.

I was curious if any of you guys had more suggestions.

What are some good ways to treat yourself that don’t involve buying things?

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On , Amy W said: | booksbobbins.blogspot.com

I’m working on stopping the habit of watching tv while I eat dinner and instead I read a book. It gives me more reading time during my day and I’ll usually end up reading for about an hour in the evening. It makes my evening feel more relaxed after a busy work day. I live alone so I can do it without guilt! :)

On , Raphaelle said: | deuxsouriceaux.wordpress.com

I know this is totally classic but there’s nothing that I like better than a square of dark chocolate at the end of the day. It’s that little sweet treat that helps me wind down after a day of chasing the girls around. I also like to get tea or herbal tea in my big mug (it’s a huge mug!). I’ve been having blueberry hibiscus lately and it’s delicious.

Another treat I don’t get nearly enough of is silence. Just sitting there in the silence, alone with my my thoughts, maybe knitting, maybe drawing, maybe just thinking. As long as there’s silence and I’m alone. It feels wonderful.

On , Chris Griffin said: | griffinfoodandsewing.wordpress.com

I like to have a cup of my low cal cocoa while in bed reading a book.
Makes me happy and comfy.

On , Kim A. said:

I go to yoga once week to de-stress. It’s lovely and keeps me sane with my extremely busy schedule!

On , Nancy K said: | blogspot.com

I love a bubble bath with lavender scented salts. The whole bedroom smells good afterwards. I put on music I love and read a book. I am lucky to have a deep soaking tub and it is heavenly.
Mostly my treats are the same as yours. But I want to know how to build an upside down fire! My fire building skills are seriously lacking.

On , catherine said:


On , Natacha said:

Like Raphaelle, I love to have my dark chocolate (the real stuff containing only cocoa butter and not another kind of fat) square at the end of the day. It feels sooooo gooood, I let it melt in my mouth so that the taste stays with me for a while. Dark Chocolate is life!
Once in a while, my two best friends and I go for a one-hour massage.
Or just taking the morning off (or the whole day if I can) to just have the luxury to take my time, treat myself with a facial mask, linger on the sofa with the cats, be able to just do nothing or sew the whole time if I want (as I mostly sew in the evenings).

On , Nadine said: | nadineathome.com

Ooh, this post is so timely. I’ve been trying to be more intentional about this in 2014.

I’ve been lighting candles, painting my nails when the hubby’s out, reading in bed more….

If it involves stepping away from the computer — and maybe enjoying an ounce or two of dark chocolate (or, um, whiskey) at the end of the day — it’s good for my soul.

On , Amie M said: | letsbeamie.wordpress.com

I usually go for a cupcake from one of my favourite bakeries. Or I do my nails. Or I make a big cup of hot chocolate, curl up with my cat and knitting, and watch some horribly cheesey show on Netflix.

On , knitmo said:

I always joke that I knit so I don’t kill people. But, sometimes it isn’t a joke. I made the decision that there would be at least 15 minutes of knitting time every day when I had my twins 8 years ago. I needed something to make me feel like myself, and as a reward for surviving the day.

Now it’s just expected that I have knitting time (although sometimes I go upstairs and sew) and a cup of tea. If I want to truly be alone, I turn on a cheesy 90s show, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that’s sure to convince the husband to do something.

On , Stephanie said: | erniekdesigns.blogspot.com

(can’t stop laughing). That’s my motto, too! (if my hands are busy, I cannot hurt you, but I am armed with pointy pointy needles on a cord). My kids are teens now, so I treat myself with watching tv or movies with them. I also indulge in everyone’s favorite free treat: sleeping in on the weekends. After all those years of not sleeping (dang kids!), it’s such a luxury!
My mom vacation is spending the day at the central library, reading old sewing books in the reference room. It has become a quarterly scheduled event, so that I don’t get hustled out of it by last minute ‘emergencies'; that is key.

On , angela said: | bonnechanceblogspot.blogspot.com

Those all sound like great ways to slow down! Especially reading! I would add taking time to play with your pets..

On , Kriston lion said: | fearsome5.wordpress.com

Stretching and rolling out all my tight muscles with a foam roller. Or the real splurge: a massage!

On , Kerry said: | sweetkarabelle.blogspot.com

I’m a big fan of a lot of the things everyone else has mentioned, but my go to for a reward is to go through the process of making a really nice cup of tea. Getting out my favorite mug, boiling the water, measuring out tea leaves into the infuser (shaped like a robot!), and then letting it steep. It really can’t be rushed and it completely slows me down if I’ve gotten frantic or overwhelmed.

On , Juniper said:

I have the robot infuser too! I absolutely adore him!

On , Lowri said:

Sometimes I’ll get home, tidy up my room (make sure the bed’s made, clutter removed from surfaces etc.) and put fresh pyjamas and socks on the radiator to warm up. Getting into bed at the end of of a rotten day then feels quite ceremonial!

On , Cyrena said:

This is brilliant!

On , Jet Set Sewing said: | jetsetsewing.com

I’ve been working on vintage couture sewing projects, and I’ve found that I can escape my tech-crazed husband and son by going into the bedroom and doing hand-sewing for awhile. During that little break I don’t mind catch-stitching all of those seam-allowances down, or fell-stitching on a lining. And when I’m finished with the project, I know how sturdy that French jacket will be!

On , Libby said:

My little treats are doing some embroidery or working on my projects, a nice cup of cocoa with whipped cream. I let the alarmclock go of half an hour earlier so I can wake up while reading a little bit amd enjoying being warm and cuddly in bed. Having a day off and go wandering through the city, cuddling my dogs, watching a film and just to be alone for a day.

On , Joni said:

Great question. Chocolate, tea, reading, knitting, sewing are all treats but when I really need a little something extra I like to get a massage or I go to an extra yoga class during the week. I’m trying to refocus buying from material things that I don’t need and probably don’t even really want — how much of x do I need anyway — more towards an occasional more ephemeral pleasure that benefits me as well as directs money towards a local person. I’m also trying to refocus from buying for activities like sewing or knitting and spending more time doing or planning for these delightful pastimes. So another treat is to stop the doing and allow myself to daydream about what I may want to explore next.

On , Andrea said: | zoopolis.wordpress.com

It’s funny how much of our non-consumer fun still involves spending, isn’t it?

Dark chocolate and cupcakes are bought. Fabric, yarn, hooks, needles, sewing machines, all bought. Bath tubs are bought, and so are soaps, nail polishes, candles, books, etc.

One of my favourite things to do is have a snizza date with my daughter (snizza = snuggles + pizza). We order a pizza (bought), snuggle up on the couch (bought) under a homemade quilt (but the fabric and batting were bought), and watch a movie (bought or rented, on a TV that was bought, in a house that was bought, for that matter). It’s really impossible to get outside of it altogether in the economy the way it’s structured now. I would still highly recommend snizza dates, though.

I’m struggling to think of even one thing that doesn’t involve buying anything or spending any money at all. Even going for a walk generally involves shoes that one bought.

Rereading favourite old books in a comfy chair with a hot tea. Working on a complicated sewing project. Writing. Baking–particularly scones. There’s something very soothing about scones, for some reason, with homemade strawberry preserves. Embroidery–particularly since I’ve bought so many embroidery supplies over the years that I can generally create something lovely without having to buy anything new–not sure if that counts, though. Putting my daughter on my lap and listening to all of the amazing things that come out of her mouth. I love how she thinks. Watching her sculpt a new clay dragon or plan out a new stuffy. Petting the dog, or laughing as he does something completely absurd. Reading a magazine in the comfy chair. Sleeping. When it’s not the NeverEnding Winter, watching things grow. Spring is a favourite time for just getting out and watching all the spring ephemerals pop up in order. I try not to miss the trout lilies. I spend a fair bit of time when it’s warm trying to figure out the non-human things around me–what they’re called, how they live, where to find them–and I always am amazed by something. Re-reading Mary Oliver. Actually, I think anyone having a bad day should sit down with some Mary Oliver, at least once.

On , kc said: | theactofmaking.tumblr.com

This is such a perfect post! I second the Mary Oliver recommendation (or any poet, really — reading poetry is something I rarely do, but whenever I do it it’s always so satisfying). Sarai’s original message and your post reminded me of this lovely little poem in particular:

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

-Mary Oliver

On , Andrea said: | zoopolis.wordpress.com

Thank you. :) I love poetry too. I have (bought) a fairly well-stocked shelf of poetry books, and I can easily lose an evening leafing through them for the tenth or twentieth time. But I’ll always have a special place in my heart (and on my bookshelves) for Mary Oliver. I love The Summer Day, and this one too:

What Was Once the Largest Shopping Center in
Northern Ohio Was Built Where There Had Been
a Pond I Used to Visit Every Summer Afternoon

Loving the earth, seeing what has been done to it,
I grow sharp, I grow cold.

Where will the trilliums go, and the coltsfoot?
Where will the pond lilies go to continue living
their simple, penniless lives, lifting
their faces of gold?

Impossible to believe we need so much
as the world wants us to buy.
I have more clothes, lamps, dishes, paper clips
than I could possibly use before I die.

Oh, I would like to live in an empty house,
with vines for walls, and a carpet of grass.
No planks, no plastic, no fiberglass.

And I suppose I will.
Old and cold I will lie apart
from all this buying and selling, with only
the beautiful earth in my heart.

On , Becky said: | omnivorareview.blogspot.com

Thank you for mentioning the library – it can be such a resource for a variety of entertainments that requires no up front cost.

Most public library systems will also give you access to nearly any film you can think of and they will deliver it to your closest branch. (Virtually free movie night!) You also may have access to free projects and research, too, like genealogy, learning foreign languages, or going to free programs like knitting nights or gardening classes.

Yeah, I work for a library.

On , Robin said:

I love the library. I wish I could work there.

An almost free activity is watching the birds outside my kitchen window. I do buy them sunflower seeds. Oh, and a heater for water for them. They have a hard time finding fresh water in very cold weather!

On , Elle said: | threadtension.wordpress.com

I totally agree with your definition of “treats.” I find that I frequently cycle between rewarding myself with a candy bar or something, which is bad for the waistline, or cosmetics, which are better for the waistline but contribute to the mindless consumption habit that I am trying to kick.

Lately, I’ve been trying to treat myself without food or buying things, exactly as you said. One of my favorite things to do is watch a horrible TV show, the kind that none of my roommates like, while sewing something for myself to wear. It’s calming, fun, and just for me. Sometimes I like to throw a mug of my favorite herbal tea into the mix, just to be crazy :) A cocktail or glass of wine is fun, too.

On , CBB said: | scrapbook.creativebusybee.com

I go to a fabric store! I do not necessarily buy fabric, but my imagination just flies seeing all the potential projects. I love it… After that, I am ready to work.

On , Nancy said:

I had to reread your post as many went into things to relax rather than treat yourself but maybe the two are interchangeable! For a treat a nice glass of dry red wine with a piece of extra dark chocolate works for me! I also love my English breakfast tea with foamy half and half as a treat, it helps keep the chill of winter at bay.

On , Lady ID said: | peppermintandpaisley.com

Sleep. Or taking a day off from doing.

Occasionally I will buy myself something nice like a camera accessory, special fabric, a book I’ve been eyeing. I’m also getting into the habit of the occasional spa day for a hot stone massage. I do my nails on a regular basis myself but every other month or so I go to the manicurist.

Last year I took a few trips and did nothing but read, sleep, go to galleries…joy. The real thing is sleep :)

On , maddie said: | madalunne.com

Manicure for sure! I can have on no makeup, be wearing dress down clothes (at least for me), and have my hair up in a bun, and I won’t feel like a slob if my nails are freshly cut and painted.

On , M said:

Going on a walk. Meditation. Reading poetry. Also listening to podcasts from LA Aloud or On Being or poetry readings at the Hammer Museum. Having a mug of hot chocolate or chocolate milk. Sometimes just reorganizing things around the house. Gardening. Going on a walk in a garden with a good friend, or going to the art museum (most gardens and museums have free days or free hours, and memberships are very worthwhile investments). I also like to clip flowers from my garden and arrange them into small nosegays for the table. Eating at a table with flowers and a tablecloth, cloth napkins, lit candles and nice dishes (mostly from the thrift store) makes it a peaceful experience. It’s nice to sit down and have a good talk with a friend or family member (or your dog or cat), or to attend a free reading or poetry reading, to hear voices being used so beautifully, and to take notes on what they say.

On , Amanda said: | symondezyn.wordpress.com

I totally believe in being kind to yourself! Depending what is going on in my life and what I find most appreciated at the time, those things will change from time to time. Lately, I’ve been working two jobs and rarely have time to relax. To keep my stress levels down, I make the time to cook healthy, clean food, and schedule time to sew and do yoga on the weekends. During the week I’m so busy it’s insane, so when I’m done for the evening, I like to enjoy a hot cup of homemade cocoa with cream and play with my kitten :)

On , Jayne Coney said: | empireroom.com.au

That’s so true Amanda.
I was talking to someone yesterday who said they rarely cook, because they are busy.
I can’t get though my crazy work periods if I don’t stop to eat a good healthy meal everyday, even better if I can cook it myself – my hungry meltdowns during fashion week are not a pretty sight.
And I don’t care who’s watching when I get up from my machine to do my stretching.

On , Nina said: | toftsnummulite.blogspot.co.uk

I guess giving myself permission to do nothing but stand by our big west-facing window for 10 minutes and watch the sunset could be called a ‘treat’, and it’s definitely free.

On , Madeline Chard said:

When I left my previous teaching position a group of students made me a “happiness jar”. It is like a lucky dip with pieces of coloured paper folded inside. Each piece of paper has an affirmation, a happy memory or a treat such as a recipe for a home-made face mask. The idea was that I could use it whenever I needed a mood lift. I think it was a wonderful gift from a group of 14 year old girls.

On , Kerry said: | sweetkarabelle.blogspot.com

This is a great idea for a gift! How thoughtful.

On , Elizabeth said:

It sounds like books, tea, and sewing/craft time are popular treats around here. Those are definitely among my favorite treats. I also wanted to mention music. I don’t do this often enough, but I find that if I lie down, close my eyes, and spend 15 minutes listening to music – really concentrating on it, instead of using it as a soundtrack to another activity – I’m amazingly refreshed. Good headphones are a bonus, but even cheap earbuds do the trick for me.

On , Emma said: | emmayouens.wix.com

I light some candles and get comfy on the bed in all my (homemade!!) cushions and flick through a magazine! Once the magazine’s done out come the nail varnishes!

On , hannah said: | hellomynameishannah.com

I usually make or go out for a bigger pot of tea than usual, or at the very least, have tea in an actual teapot. I can’t stand the taste of tea that’s been brewed in paper, or the feeling of drinking out of paper, but it’s also hard to make time to go out long enough to justify drinking out of bone china or cast iron. As a result, that’s why it qualifies as a treat.

Additionally, I might be in the minority on this one, but going out in a dress without makeup (the exception being lipstick or lip gloss) is another treat for me.

On , Lisa S. said:

There are few treats I enjoy more than a nap on the couch with my sweet Dachshund.

On , Paola said: | lasartora.blogspot.com.au

Making a prawn, avocado and mango salad to eat for Saturday lunch with my husband today (teenagers are out!!). Big treat. Leaf tea made in tea pot drunk from tea cup, then drink it sitting on my front verandah so I can enjoy the garden. Using perfume every day, even if I’m at home in my grungy gear doing the gardening. A square of Baklava – very hard to get where we live, so a treat when I find it. Eating as many figs as I like because I’ve just picked a big bucket of them. A swim at the surf beach. Painting. And of course, sewing.

On , Jessica said: | ayenforcraft.blogspot.com

Love these suggestions! Love to see that we’re all pampering ourselves in small ways :-). Free time/mental space is a big one for me — sometimes just ‘treating myself’ to a work-at-home day, where I spend part of it in a cafe, is lovely. I guess I really value freedom.

Another thing that I did for myself this year, is that I asked to cut back my work hours so that I have one afternoon off per week (or, an extra hour 4 mornings/week to write). It doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it’s been a real gift. My pressure valve to stay sane. I can’t “have it all” at 40-hour-workweeks, but I’ve got a fighting chance if I’m at 34 or 36.

On , Wanett said: | sownbrooklyn.com

You already have most of my favorite ways listed: baths, books, manicures, tea.

I used to knit more before sewing took over my crafty life. I’ve gotten back into it, and picked up embroidery again, too. A couple rows/stitches at night with a rerun of one of my favorites playing (Lebowski, Keeping Up Appearances, Coupling) is my new favorite way to unwind.

On , Kate said:

As Special Agent Dale Cooper said:
“I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee.”

On , Patricia said:

I love our libraries! And now that ebooks are available, it’s gotten even better. Thank you for all you do!

On , Amy said: | ladymockingbird.com

This may sound contradictory because it involves work. But, as a rule I don’t usually allow myself to do any computer work in bed. I find it helps my brain to know that laying in bed time equals relaxing time. Sometimes, when I’ve had an extra long week or am feeling a bit achy, I allow myself to do work from the comfort of my cozy bed. I don’t do it often, but it’s a real treat when it happens, and I usually have a nice hot cup of tea by my side.

On , Alicia Key said: | keygroceryandquilts.com

all good ideas…until the last one. Food is my go-to reward & I MUST stop it! Today is finally Saturday, though, and on Saturday nights, I get Mexican food & a margarita! (that’s after sewing all day, of course!)

On , Ashley said: | ashleyakers.blogspot.com

A hike or jog are at the top of my list. I love being outside and the botanic gardens and nature center are a nice treat. We’ve been trying to visit our local museums more often as well. A visit to the bookstore and a nice cup of coffee are another small indulgence.

On , Pam said:

Thanks for the great reminder. I want to incorporate this into my lifestyle and share with others.

On , Alice Elliot said:

I, too, treat myself with a good long walk or hike. The idea of packing delicious food to go along has, surprisingly, not occurred to me!! Even though I always am starving at the end. So thanks for the reminder to treat myself to a picnic while getting some exercise!
And thanks for the great links, too.

On , Beth said:

One treat I love is to put together a playlist of songs to dance to, songs I love even if they are super cheesy, and have my own private dance party.
Another is a very small glass of homemade liquor, lemoncello or nocino, at the end of day while reading or relaxing.
I would love to find a to watch the sun set but haven’t found a good spot in Portland. Taking time to just watch the sun go down and the sky change has been a treat since I was a teenager.

On , Adriana said:

I sit on my sofa and have wine. Truly a relaxing treat after a long day of teaching.

On , Isabel said: | acraftyscientist.wordpress.com

Reading a book at night is a treat, I try do do it even if I have a long day at work.

When I have a bit more time I draw or craft.

But nothing beats cooking – it really really relaxes me, as long as I am in the mood for it! :)

On , SizeMode said: | sizemode.com

working in the garden is a big treat for me in the spring/summer. Its usually accomplished in the morning with a cup of black coffee in my hand and flips on my feet and cozy oversized sweatshirt hoody on. I like the stroll around and check the changes from the day before. I also look around a bit for our resident garden toad. Just to make sure he is still around, getting all the bugs he can eat. Steam showers after a ski, and sewing are my winter alternatives.

On , Femke said:

I wake up earlier than really needed to get ready for work. The first twenty minutes after waking up is spend drinking coffee or tea while I browse through my RSS-feed. This relaxed way of waking up usually gives me a more positive look on the coming day. I can take this luxury because I don’t have children yet and my work starts late.

For the rest are walking and sewing my ways of treating myself. The walking is perhaps even the most important thing my boyfriend and I do, as it is mainly then that we discuss the important things and keep our relationship good.

On , Jayne Coney said: | empireroom.com.au

I like have some time in the morning too.
The kids are all teenagers & have to be responsible for their breakfast, duty & lunch, so I only have to organise myself & enjoy doing my vintage style make up if I’m working outside the house.

On , kate said:

Trying out (Vintage) hair/beauty tutorials from youtube always feel decedent….
On a more serious note, thinking of one thing about myself i like (an achivment, a personality trait, somthing abou my appearance, a skill ive developed) and being proud of it, just unequvicollay proud for at least 15minutes

On , Jan said:

Recently I treated myself and my daughters to a nice, shiny magazine each which we then read over coffee and steamed milk at the coffee shop. It feels so luxurious!

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On , Jayne Coney said: | empireroom.com.au

One of my favourite things is filling up a bucket with hot water, lectric soda & a few drops of lavender oil, then soaking my terrible feet in front of the tv. Afterwards I slather them in Burt’s Bees foot cream & pop some cotton anklets on.
It’s so simple, but feels like luxury.

On , Magickwyrds said: | magickwyrds.blogspot.com

I like to treat myself on Fridays by looking in to see what your weekend links are pointing to- you always have some really great inspiration here at Coletterie! I’ve been itching to whizz up some skirts ever since you posted about your Quick Projects…

On , Nakisha said: | sewcraftychemist.blogspot.com

I have to come up with non-food treats. Because I like to treat myself to a meal without my (ever so greedy) teens or to ice cream or something like that.

On , Claire said: | onedabbles.com

Time to myself in silence for fifteen minutes is very refreshing. Set a timer, lie on the floor and drift. All the above ideas are great too – tea, crafting. I also do a quick home made hand scrub – 1 tablespoon of sugar and a splash of oil. Rub hands, rinse very, very well with just water. Clean out basin (takes 1 min) and you feel pampered and virtuous : ) It’s also a great foot scrub in the bath.

On , Christena said:

Most times a finished project is reward enough for me…especially
a project that is finished well, not rushed and turns out better than I originally imagined.

On , anne jewell said:

sarai, try taking a 15-minute nap once or twice a day. works wonders!–anne

On , isis said: | isismade.blogspot.com.au

- naps
– allowing myself to sit staring at nothing or out the window and potentially thinking about nothing. this doesn’t happen often so i embrace it
– weeding. this can actually become a welcome break when working on very mind-intensive work
– sitting of front steps in winter sun with cuppa in hand
– allowing myself to sleep in longer
– using my favourite plate / teacup / teatowel :)

On , sewingslowly said:

When my friend finished her Ornithology class, I began coveting her 750 page textbook, which she gave to me. I divided the number of pages by 52, planning to read more or less 12 pages a week with the idea of finishing it in a year. So every 12 pages (approx) I wrote out goal dates for a year. ( I pretended every month has 28 days for simplicity’s sake ). It is really nice to read a textbook without worrying about highlighters, quizzes or understanding it all fully. Having some imposed but light schedule is actually very helpful. I am really enjoying it. Was there a college course you wanted to take but didn’t get a chance to?

On , lori said:

Hot tea in my gazebo
A walk at dusk
Watching all the birds and squirrels in my yard
Scented soap and a hot bath
Lighting a candle while I read or do needlework

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