Let's face it: The world is a mess. The news is horrible. It's a massive triumph just to get out of bed every morning. You deserve a reward for every second that you are here. Period. So here are 20 things you can probably do right this very second to reward yourself by doing the bare minimum, which is a lot these days.
It just so happens that these rewards might also make you calmer, happier, and momentarily light before you have to turn around and go back to facing reality. You get bonus points if you do all 20 of them in a row.
1. Eat a piece of chocolate.
Or a cookie! Or a piece of candy! Or a carrot! Whatever will make you feel satisfied and delighted without feeling ill, treat yo'self! I highly doubt it's a carrot, though. Be honest with yourself. It's at least a pack of Welch's Fruit Snacks.
Do you understand how good it feels to stretch your body?! I don't think you do. Otherwise, you would be doing it all the time. Seriously. Lift your hands over your head and / or stretch your legs out in front of you, push out your chest, and try to elongate your torso as much as possible. It's the best feeling in the world.
Sure, there's a scientific reason for it, involving blood flow and endorphins, but you don't need to know all that to know it feels incredible. And the best thing about it is that you can do it literally anywhere at any time.
3. Take a walk.
Most of us sit at desks and type away on computers all day. Now's your chance to get up. Take a walk around the block, to the break room, or even just around your desk a few times. You'll be amazed at the energy you'll have after that.
However, if you've been on your feet all day, for goodness' sake, take a break! Sit down for 30 seconds, stretch your legs, and then get back up and you'll be ready to keep going.
4. Drink some water.
I know you haven't had enough water today. So get yourself to the water cooler or the sink or the Brita and pour yourself a glass. Water might be sort of boring, but it's good for you. Just do it. You'll feel better. I promise.
5. Close your eyes.
Take a minute. Close your eyes. Concentrate only on keeping them closed. And don't open them until you're ready. If you're in a shared office where this is impossible without looking weird, head to a conference room or a bathroom stall or put on some really cool sunglasses. Fair warning: You might fall asleep. But who doesn't need a little nap every now and then?
6. Text someone you love to let them know that you love them.
It's actually bonkers how much better you feel when you try to make someone else feel better. It's really amazing. So reward yourself right now by texting someone that you love to tell them that you love them or that you are thinking of them or that you just wanted to say hi. Guaranteed, they'll be ecstatic to hear from you, and that will give your own heart a little boost.
7. Watch that funny video that always makes you laugh.
For me, it's this bulldog who knowingly nods when her owner makes a deal with her to take her to the beach if she doesn't snore. I cannot help but burst out laughing every single time I watch it, no matter what mood I'm in. How does she seem like she completely understands him?
Maybe this is your video. Maybe it's something else. Whatever it is, pull it up and watch it right now to reward yourself for waking up today!
8. Listen to a song you haven't listened to in a while.
I know I go through phases with the music I listen to. I'll go hard on one genre or one band for months and lose sight of all the other artists I love. So today, consciously pick out a song you haven't listened to in a while and let yourself get lost in it. It will soothe your soul!
Doodling can help you focus, clear your mind, and relieve stress. There's literally no reason not to do it! I know some people who are averse to doodling because they think there's some sort of pressure to make sure it looks good. I assure you that is nonsense. Doodle words, pictures, lines, squiggles, whatever you want! It's all perfect.
10. Buy yourself something online.
If you have the ability, there is no underestimating the power of buying yourself a gift. It doesn't have to be big or expensive, and you can go to the store if you want, but the power of online shopping is that you get the thrill of the purchase, and then you get a second delightful moment when the thing is delivered to your house a few days later.
Sure, capitalism is a big ol' B, and that's probably to blame for why shopping makes us feel so good, but that doesn't mean you don't deserve a present.
11. Take the biggest, deepest breath you can.
Even better if you can take several of these in a row. A trick that I use to calm my anxiety is to inhale deeply for a four-count, then exhale deeply for a four-count. Even if I'm not feeling anxious, it's a great way to relax and refresh my body. Exhaling always seems like a chance to expel any negative crap that's stuck inside you, you know?
This is the worst advice. There, I said it. Men who tell women to smile deserve to be beheaded. Unfortunately, though, it's also great advice. Much like stretching, the act of smiling can help you release endorphins and actually make you feel better. Yes, you can force-smile your way to happiness.
That being said, if you really don't feel like smiling right now, please don't. Instead, you could...
I love crying! Crying is wonderful! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! It's got arguably more health benefits than smiling and some of the same ones (like the endorphin release thing!). And sometimes, you just really need a good, cathartic cry. Crying can help boost your mood and relieve stress.
So, if you tried to smile today and it felt super wrong, try letting yourself cry! You deserve it!
14. Write a list of fun things you want to do.
A good way to reward yourself if you're feeling especially hopeless and/or antsy today is to brainstorm a list of fun things you want to do. They can be small and relatively immediate (like going to the library after work or watching a certain movie when you get home), or they can be bigger ideas for the future (like classes you want to take or vacation ideas). Even just the act of writing them down is a huge first step to actually doing them.
15. Order a pizza.
Listen, I know not everyone can eat pizza, but if you can, order yourself one. If you can't, pick the food that comforts you the most, and have someone bring it to you. I'm not advocating stuffing your face and feeling gross afterward, but opening a pizza box or a container of mac and cheese or a pint of ice cream is about as comforting as it gets.
16. Wash your face.
If you need to wake up or give yourself a little boost of energy, washing your face is the perfect way to do that. Not only will you feel clean and refreshed, but you'll also feel ready to tackle anything life tries to throw you. A washed face is the face of a champion.
17. Sit up straighter.
Oh hey! Our posture is terrible! We're hunched over computers and our phones all day. So take a second to sit up straighter, and you'll immediately feel a difference. I swear, it's true! All of a sudden, you'll be more alert and more confident. Sitting up straight is like smiling in that just the act of doing it can affect your mood and your perception of yourself and the day you're having.
18. Look at cute dogs on Instagram.
This one's pretty self-explanatory. Instagram is a hub of a lot of not-so-great stuff (unrealistic images of beauty, FOMO, etc.), but if you head to your explore page and look at the #dogs hashtag, you'll be in heaven. I suppose you could do this with cats, too, if you're into that sort of thing.
19. Step outside and bask in the sun / look at the stars.
If your job involves sitting inside all day, pop outside for a sec and soak up some good ol' vitamin D! It's like three of these little rewards in one: You get a walk, you get to close your eyes, and you get to stand out in the sun. If it happens to be nighttime while you're reading this, guess what? The moon and the stars are gorgeous! Getting some fresh air, no matter the time of day, will do wonders for you.
20. Do nothing!
Being alive today is too much. You deserve to reward yourself for being alive by taking some time out of your day to literally do nothing. Don't worry about smiling or stretching or breathing if even that doesn't seem like a "reward" to you right now. Simply allowing yourself to be without feeling like you have to be moving and constantly productive is a reward in and of itself.
These are things we can all do to make ourselves feel better, but not all of these will feel good to do every single day, and that's more than OK. Listen to yourself, chill as much as humanly possible, pay attention to what you need to thrive in this Dumpster fire we call a world, and for goodness' sake, treat yo'self.