13 Ways to Reward & Treat Yourself (Without Spending a Fortune)

13 Ways to Reward & Treat Yourself (Without Spending a Fortune)

Learn how to treat yourself with 13 great self-reward ideas that can greatly impact your mental health and productivity levels.

Why is it important to reward yourself?

While it seems self-explanatory that rewarding yourself after a long hard day or for a job well done is a good way to relax as part of your self-care routine, self-rewarding has been scientifically linked to positive reinforcement in our brains.

When we treat ourselves, we feel energized and content, which directly boosts our self-command. In this sense, rewards can be a huge incentive to keep us moving towards our goals. Research snows that the operant conditioning theory is a psychological concept that mentions how we learn through reward and punishment, working through positive reinforcement.

Simply put, positive reinforcement refers to the fact that when a behaviour is rewarded with a pleasant outcome, we are more likely to be incentivised to repeat the behaviour.

When we don’t reward ourselves, we feel depleted of energy and experience a loss of motivation. After all, what is the point of working hard for no return?

How to motivate yourself to get rewards

Whether you are working, studying, or raising a child or other, we must motivate ourselves with rewards.

Creating a reward system is simple yet differs for everyone. Here is a general guideline to creating a system of self-reward:

  1. Break down your goals – Create a system where you break down your main goals into smaller sub-goals. This will help to clarify your action plan and guide you through your work process.
  2. Track your goals – Ensure you know when you have achieved your outcome and have received your treat.
  3. Choose the right rewards for the goals – Your rewards shouldn’t get in the way of your goals. For example, if your overall goal is to cut sugar out of your diet, rewarding yourself with a sweet treat would be counteractive. Pick a reward that is something you really want so that you are motivated to achieve it.
  4. When to reward yourself – Stick to your reward system as much as possible. Create smaller milestones and celebrate your progress with smaller rewards.

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Ways to reward & treat yourself:

1. Enjoy a relaxing hot bubble bath

One of the best ways to treat yourself while relaxing and energising your mind and body is to take a hot bubble bath. Fill your bath with essential oils of your choosing, light some scented candles and dim the lights for a renewing experience after a long day. This is a short term great reward option to treat yourself daily.

Enjoy a relaxing hot bubble bath

A hot bath can lower your blood pressure and blood sugar, helping ready you for bed. It’s also known to relieve muscular tension while cleaning and moisturising your skin.

Add different essential oils to help alleviate certain issues:

  • Peppermint – boosts energy.
  • Eucalyptus – eases breathing.
  • Lavender – relieves stress.
  • Sandalwood – calms nerves and helps improve focus.
  • Rose – improves mood and energy.
  • Chamomile – aids relaxation

How to reward yourself for free?

While it’s easy to direct our rewards towards retail therapy and to eat out, in reality, we might not have the money and resources to buy a new dress or eat out at a restaurant too often.

It’s important to find ways to reward yourself that won’t cost you extra money and dig into our budget.

The main themes for rewarding yourself for free include indulging yourself in-home spa treatments, taking yourself for long walks outdoors in nature, baking and cooking in your own home and spending time with your loved ones. After all, the best things in life are free!

Want more? Self Care Shower Routine (Step-by-Step)

2. Sit down to watch your favourite TV show

Sometimes, the best reward is a total distraction. Watching TV or a movie can serve as a great distraction, as they take us into another world altogether.

Whether you prefer reality TV or a fictional movie, sitting in front of a TV can be a great way to ‘switch off’ and distance yourself from the rest of your day.

However, if you spend most of your day working in front of a computer screen, beware of your screen-time hours. While some adults can spend up to 11 hours looking at a screen each day, research shows that the blue light in your screen can negatively strain your eyes and vision.

Try adding a blue screen backlight to your computer screen or purchasing some blue light spectacles to combat this strain. Alternatively, it’s recommended to stand up and take your eyes off the screen for a few minutes every 20 minutes.

3. Brew yourself a hot cup of tea

If you’re wondering how to reward yourself during a busy workday, brewing yourself a hot cup of tea (of coffee) can be a rewarding ritualistic experience.

Taking the time to stand up from your desk and venture into the kitchen can make you feel a change of atmosphere. What’s more, choosing a herbal tea to match your current mental health status can impact your physical health and help increase your overall happiness levels.

The health benefits of herbal tea:

  1. Chamomile – helps fight insomnia and is an active anti-inflammatory. Drink this when you want to feel calm.
  2. Peppermint – helps with indigestion, nausea and stomach aches.
  3. Ginger – stimulates the immune system and relieves indigestion and constipation.
  4. Hibiscus – reduces high blood pressure.
  5. Echinacea – boosts the immune system.
  6. Rooibos – stimulates bone growth and strength.
  7. Sage – has a cognitive effect on your brain, helping to improve brain functioning.

4. Treat yourself to your favourite ice cream or frozen yoghurt dessert

Sometimes, all you need are some tasty snacks to motivate you. Whether you prefer your best brand of ice-cream or a couple of chocolate chip cookies, snacks can be great to treat yourself with.

However, be sure to remember your limits, not overeating or indulging too much. Eating too much sugar can have an immediate negative effect on your brain, slowing cognitive functioning and reducing memory and attention.

5. Buy yourself a bunch of flowers

Your living space should make you happy and boost your energy, and treating yourself to a bunch of fresh flowers can have a huge effect on your personal space and productivity levels.

The aesthetic look and smell of flowers are known to lift your mood, which is scientifically linked to an emotional boost.

If you prefer long-lasting plants, buy a new pot plant to add to your collection. Plants oxygenate the air, which is linked to boosted brain functioning and improved memory and concentration levels.

How do I reward myself without food?

While we often default toward food rewards and snacks, we must limit these rewards to a healthy level, ensuring we maintain control of our well-being.

To reward yourself without food, try to understand what makes you feel a sense of accomplishment, gives you energy and makes you feel content.

Be it an experience (such as yoga or meditation), an item (such as a scented candle), or an activity (such as a skin-nourishing routine), there are numerous ways to indulge your senses without relying on food.

6. Invite your loved ones over for a game night

Whether you’re an introvert or an extravert, spending quality time with those you love is a wonderful way to reward yourself. Crack open a bottle of wine and design a beautiful cheese board. Invite your friends and family over for dinner, followed by an evening of game playing.

Teaming up with friends and family members to play a board or a card game is a great way to socialise and catch up with your loved ones in a fun environment, slowing down for the evening while still using your cognitive mind.

7. Go for a walk and indulge in your favourite coffee order

If you’re wondering how to treat yourself after you’ve completed your mid-morning deadlines, spend some time walking outside and stop off at your local coffee shop.

Giving yourself a change of surroundings can benefit your productivity levels. Walking is an underrated form of exercises which energies your body and stimulates your mind while improving your happiness.

As you walk, your brain releases serotonin and dopamine chemicals, which tend to make us feel happier. Being outdoors in nature, be it by the blue ocean or under green trees, spending time around greenery reduces stress levels, lowers blood pressure and improves our overall moods.

8. Light a delicious smelling candle

Sometimes the best small rewards for yourself are as simple as lighting your favourite candles. Certain scents have the power to take us to different places, triggering happy memories of those we love, a time we treasure, and places we dream of.

Especially for those working from home, it’s a great idea to treat yourself to a beautiful candle that sits in your living room or on your bedside table.

9. Order in your favourite food

Depending on how much money you have to spend, one of the best ways to reward yourself is to order your favourite meal.

Typically, try choosing a meal that you can’t easily make at home alone, making it a more special and unique treat.

Especially when we don’t have enough time to prepare nutritious and healthy food, eating a well prepared and delicious meal has the power to turn a day around, giving us the motivation to work better and longer.

10. Cook yourself an elaborate meal

If you have the time, cooking for yourself (while it might sound like work) can be one of the best ways to reward yourself.

Draw up a vision board, laying out all the top meals you would love to make, and try crossing off your list by making yourself at least two beautifully prepared meals each week.

By cooking for yourself, you’ll be able to make sure that your meals have all the right nutrients necessary to suit your personal weight goal while using your creativity to create a delicious meal.

While simultaneously building up a skill, you’ll feel accomplished and motivated to take on anything!

11. Take a well-deserved nap

Sometimes all we need is to take a nap. A quick power nap in between a busy schedule can help increase relaxation and reduce fatigue and irritability while boosting our alertness and mood for the rest of the day.

Even when it might sound counteractive, spending 2o minutes powering down can greatly affect our work productivity.

Research shows that a power nap should last between 20 and 30 minutes. While making us feel immediately more content, napping during the day is also a great way to practice self-control by forcing us to monitor our nap time to avoid oversleeping.

12. Relax with a home spa pampering session

After a busy day focused on work and other people, it’s important to prioritise our physical bodies and minds.

Relax with a home spa pampering session

A good way to do this is to set up a home beauty pampering session. Treat yourself to some luxurious beauty products, and schedule a weekly pampering session.

What can I do to pamper myself to feel more content?

  1. Brew a hot cup of herbal tea.
  2. Take a warm bath with Epsom salts and essential oils of your choosing.
  3. Exfoliate your body with a luscious bath scrub.
  4. File and buff your nails and give yourself a manicure and pedicure.
  5. Wash your face and give yourself a face mask. If you’re on a tight budget, here are some basic face masks that you can make at home.
  6. Apply a serum to your face, and massage it in with a facial roller and gua sha stone. Facial rollers are said to improve blood circulation and reduce puffiness around the eyes.
  7. Moisturise your body with your favourite smelling creams while massaging your aching muscles.
  8. Put on some of your favourite makeup.

13. End your day with some conscious meditation and yoga

One of the best ways to start and end a busy day is with a mindful meditation and yoga session. We must find moments of peace and tranquillity in our lives, stopping to appreciate life without rushing through it.

If you prefer doing yoga on your own, download a meditation app and get moving. Yoga is said to improve core strength, balance, and flexibility while helping ease muscular pain, improve sleep, and brighten your energy and moods. It’s basically a way of massaging your own body through movement.

Meditation can help us gain a new perspective on stressful situations by increasing our self-awareness and managing our stress levels. It’s a great activity to engage in if you need to increase your patience and tolerance by focusing on the present, making you feel content with where you are in time and space.

Regardless of how we spend the bulk of our time, we set up rewards to work towards increasing our productivity and motivation levels and overall quality of life.


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Natasha Bernstein

Born in South Africa, Natasha is a Masters educated writer with a passion for sustainability, travel, health and food. With experience in the hospitality, energy, production, and broadcast industries, Natasha has a rounded and unique worldview. When she isn’t writing in her favourite coffee shop, Natasha likes to spend her time travelling the world, surfing, gardening, sewing, and experimenting with fun new recipes.

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