If you've been experiencing a loss of motivation, passion, and purpose, you're not alone. This feeling is described as languishing—the midway point between flourishing and depression, as explained by organizational psychologist Adam Grant, PhD, in an article published by the New York Times in April. During a recent Well+Good TALKS event focused on mental health, writer, wellness coach, and licensed therapist Minaa B., LMSW, explained how rewarding yourself throughout the day can help you overcome feelings of emptiness.
"With this languishing that many people are probably experiencing, it's really great for us to find different ways to reward ourselves throughout the day. And recognizing that as people who are worthy and deserving, we don't have to necessarily earn good moments in life—we can cultivate them," says Minaa. "If you find that your days are starting to feel mundane, chances are you're not rewarding yourself with some sort of mood-boosting activities."
"I'm proud of myself for the amount of time that I spend on myself in the mornings because it wasn't that long ago where that wasn't the case...In the back of my mind, I was like, I don't deserve this," says Ash. "We literally have to reprogram ourselves to tell ourselves, I'm doing this not because I work hard. But I'm doing this just because I deserve. Because there's a difference there."
Keep in mind that the ways you reward yourself will be dependent on your needs. While going for a run is good for you and can lead to mental health benefits, if it's not something you truly enjoy, you shouldn't consider it your reward activity.
"Self care is a subjective process," says Minaa. "It really requires us to get curious with ourselves and self-reflect on what are my needs. Because what might work for my friend, or what I might read on a blog post might not necessarily connect with me and what is vital for my mental well-being. This is a part of self-awareness and self-nourishment. By just knowing what your needs are and how you can meet those things."
Recently, during a breathwork training with Millana Snow, Ash says she was reminded of the power of self-healing.
"We truly are our own healers," says Ash. "Anytime that we feel called to go do a thing, or take a class, or go to a therapist, whatever, they're simply holding the space for us. But it's our beautiful right to reclaim," knowing that you're the one making this "expansive transformation" happen.
Watch the full Well+Good TALKS event:
Below, you'll find nine examples of how to reward yourself throughout the day. Much of this depends on what's feasible for you and your environment. You can't exactly cook a meal if you're working in an office or find a quiet spot to nap if your young kids are doing school from home. Let this list allow your gears to start turning and figuring out what works best for you. "By engaging in those small habits and practices, we can start to create a shift that will lead to bigger changes for ourselves," says Minna.
Wondering how to reward yourself? Here are 9 simple options
1. Enjoy nature
Spending time with nature is great for your mental and emotional well-being. Just because you likely can't go on a lunchtime hike doesn't mean you have to be stuck in front of a screen all day. Maybe you go for a walk. Maybe you water your plants. Maybe you sit on your balcony/roof/fire escape/porch/patio and just take in what's happening around you.
2. Get some movement
If doing HITT sparks your fire, try a midday workout. If yoga brings you back to center, roll out your mat. "Exercising is big. it could go be going to the gym," says Minaa. "It could look like going for a walk, it could look like stretching in your home, doing yoga."
Try this 20-minute calming yoga flow:
3. Take a nap
Trying to make it through a long day when you didn't get enough sleep can be torturous. Instead of trudging through, consider taking a nap if you're in an environment that allows you to do so. "Sleep is a restorative process for the brain, allowing your body to hit the pause button in the middle of a hectic day,” says sleep medicine doctor Raman Malhotra, MD. “Remarkably, even napping for as little as 10 minutes can recharge the mind and provide an energy boost.”
4. Break for journaling
Journaling through the really hard stuff might not be the best thing to do over lunch. But, checking in with yourself and working through your feelings might be exactly what your brain needs. You can buy a journals with prompts to make the practice easier.
5. Enjoy your lunch
We often rely on dinner as the most important meal of the day. Instead of waiting until your day is almost over for a celebratory meal, make lunchtime feel special by picking up your favorite meal or whipping up something in the kitchen. Lunchtime doesn't always need to be quick and easy lunches.
Try making this delicious veggie-packed bolognese recipe:
6. Read a book
Raise your hand if you fall asleep minutes into reading at the end of the day regardless of how interested you are in the book. While reading before bed can be a great way to wind down, it doesn't need to be the only time you let your mind wander into a literary reality. Try knocking out a chapter while you're actually awake enough to enjoy it.
Taking a moment for meditation can be a great way to recharge and reset. If you enjoy meditation, there are tons of apps like Happy Not Perfect and Headspace that can help you take a break. Even just five minutes of meditation can make a difference.
8. Watch your favorite show
Watching something you love can give your mind a break from all of the thoughts and deadlines running through your brain. Take a break and watch an episode.
9. Pick up the phone
Especially if you're working from home, a day full of endless meetings can mean that all of your conversations in a day could be work-related. Break away from the Zoom life and just hop on a phone call with a loved one.
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