21 Ways to Treat Yourself When You’re Feeling Burned Out

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Aaliyah Barnes30
Proof that literature degrees aren't impractical
July 23, 2024 at 4:48AM UTC

Constant productivity isn't practical. No matter how many times we try to convince ourselves that we're better off for the (unrealistic) expectations of productivity to which we hold ourselves, it's just not sustainable. (Granted, it's not our fault that we exist in a culture that puts our productivity before our mental, emotional and physical well-being.) This is why it's our responsibility to make the effort to be understanding and reward ourselves for all our hard work. Treating ourselves to the things that recharge us rather than drain us is essential to ensuring that we aren't running on empty and depriving ourselves of the things in life that make it worth living. 

Why you deserve to treat yourself.

We’re living in the era where grind culture and our debilitating desire to constantly feel productive can keep us from enjoying the spoils of life and rewards for our labor. What good are all of the productive hours you put in if you don't take the time to enjoy all of the other things that enrich your life as a result of your diligent work? Your vacation days, a new outfit and even your one-hour lunch break are much-needed and much-deserved rewards and moments that allow you to focus solely on yourself, rather than the work that you produce or the services you provide for others. 

Any Parks and Rec fans reading this article are surely familiar with the “treat yo’ self” phenomenon that swept over the internet thanks to Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford — but October 13th (Treat yo' self day — it's the best day of the year!) shouldn't be the only day that you treat yourself to the things that make you happy or keep you motivated.  Whether you’re looking to reduce your stress levels with 5 minutes of quiet reflection or reward yourself for a job well done by buying yourself your favorite dessert, the fact of the matter is, you deserve it because you've earned it. 

21 ways you can treat yourself without the guilt.

1. Get some rest.

Sleep is essential to our well-being — so it's a shame that on a global scale 51% of adults aren't getting adequate rest, according to Princess Cruises' Relaxation Report. Also according to this report? Most of these sleep-deprived adults are making up for their lost hours of sleep on weekends — which explains why sleeping in on a Saturday can feel so heavenly. But don't just wait for the weekends to rest up; the occasional game of hooky or a mid-day nap during your lunch hour can go a long way. 

2. Embrace solitude.

Interacting with others is usually a huge part of our daily agendas, which isn’t always a bad thing — until your social battery runs out. Embracing alone time is a great way to check-in with yourself about your thoughts, feelings and emotions — as well as give you an opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasures that bring you peace. Embrace the moments you spend getting to know yourself better and indulge in the things that you enjoy without the influence or judgment of others. 

3. Do a social media cleanse.

Sometimes the best treat we can give ourselves is a chance to unplug. We’re always connected to our phones, to the internet and to social media — monitoring who’s been watching our Instagram stories and consuming celebrity twitter storms. Allowing ourselves a chance to live in the moment and not constantly be influenced by the thoughts and opinions of others give us a chance to investigate what our own thoughts and opinions are. Sure our followers might wonder where we've run off to, but don't feel guilty for taking some time off to decompress. You don't owe anybody a status update. 

4. Start journaling.

Journaling is a very therapeutic practice that is most often used as a tool to relieve stress through venting. Journaling doesn’t always have to mean recording your thoughts and feelings with words thought; you can opt to express yourself through doodles, webs, graphs or whatever the most efficient and relaxing way for you to express your thoughts on papers is. Journal about your goals and desires and refer to your entries when you're seeking motivation. 

5. Write kind notes to yourself.

Have you ever written your future self a note? Try it! Consider this a whimsical way to treat yourself to kind words and affirmations. This practice works best if you write yourself multiple notes or affirmations and place them in areas where they're easily visible. Write a kind message to yourself on a sticky note and place it on your the mirror you look into every day. Spell out an uplifting message to yourself with the refrigerator letter magnets, it's a simple way to strengthen your relationship with yourself. We deserve kindness, even from our biggest critics — ourselves.

6. Make yourself a personalized music playlist.

Music is soothing to the soul, so why not give yourself the gift of song? Treating yourself to a playlist of some of your favorite songs or even a discovery playlist of songs that you think you'll like is a great way to get more in tune with your likes and interests. Plus who can resist an impromptu dance party for one with nobody else hogging the aux cord? 

7. Try aromatherapy. 

Scents can make or break a relaxing ambiance. There’s nothing like a little aromatherapy to whisk you away to another place or time and trigger fond memories. Whether you fancy a classic vanilla bean scented candle or sandalwood incense, try to fill your space with your favorite scents that bring you peace. 

8. Update your skincare routine.

When you look good, you feel good. As cliche as it is, it’s true! If you’ve been too busy to find the time or energy to keep up with your skincare routine, it wouldn't hurt to treat yourself to that eye cream or clay mask that you’ve been debating on whether or not to buy. Nothing motivates you to stick to your skincare routine like new products that you're excited to try! 

9. Tidy up your space.

A clean space is a happy space, and when you take the time to clean your space, you’re doing your future self a huge favor and saving yourself from a lot of stress and anxiety. Cleaning your space will make your at-home spa day — complete with specialized playlist, aromatherapy and fancy clay mask — that much more relaxing because your mind isn't cluttered thinking about your physical clutter. 

10. Treat your space to some new decor.

In addition to treating yourself to a clean space, decorating that space to be aesthetically pleasing is also a great way to treat yourself! There’s comfort in knowing that your space is an accurate representation of your tastes and interests. Also, let’s be honest — who can honestly say that the home decor section of Target or a spontaneous trip to Home Goods hasn't tempted them in the slightest before? You've earned that plush throw blanket. 

11. Practice retail therapy.

In true "treat yo' self" fashion, a new tennis bracelet or purse can go a long way in making us feel a little more pampered and glamorous than usual. If you have the means to treat yourself to an item that’s a bit of a splurge, go for it! If not, budget-friendly options are always welcome; you could walk away with three new outfits in one trip to the thrift store. You've worked hard for the money that you have, so it's okay to spend a little bit of it on something that you want "just because." 

12. Invest in experiences.

Another good use of your hard-earned cash and time off is to treat yourself to an experience! Take yourself on a date to a fancy restaurant or finally book that trip you’ve been saving up all of those travel rewards points for. You’ll be able to cherish those moments and memories for a long time, and that's always a good investment.

13. Savor your favorite comfort food.

We should never feel guilty for eating food, even if the food choices we make aren't always the healthiest. Treating ourselves to our favorite comfort food in moderation keeps us sane and satiated — especially when the one thing on our minds after a long day is coming home to that slice of cheesecake in our fridge that we've been thinking about all day. 

14. Learn something new.

That Groupon for those salsa dancing lessons that you’ve been meaning to go to is going to expire soon if you don’t get out there! There’s a lot of fun in picking up a new skill or hobby as a means of treating yourself. You’re rewarding yourself with a new experience and the potential to meet new people and expand your social circle. 

15. Explore a new neighborhood.

Visiting a new neighborhood can be an opportunity to change your surroundings without having to take time off or use vacation days. In many places developing emerging artist communities there's sure to be a beautiful mural or an offbeat museum for you to visit if you choose to take a path you've never taken before. Sometimes, the scenic route is best. 

16. Spend time in nature. 

Stop and smell the roses — literally. You don't have to be a nature person to appreciate its beauty. Make some time to visit the ocean, or take a trip to a botanical garden. You'll be able to engage your senses and enjoy a change of scenery and ambiance. 

17. Get active

Exercising is actually a great method of treating yourself if you have fitness and health goals in mind. Beginning a new fitness routine, taking on a hobby like running or even participating in team sports can help you develop new and healthy goals and routines. Plus, you'll be treating yourself to some eye candy when you look in the mirror after a few weeks. 

18. Do something that scares you.

If you're shy and not too keen on performing in front of others, convince yourself to go to a karaoke bar and sing your heart out. If going to dinner or a movie by yourself is a source of anxiety for you,  try taking yourself on a date — because no one is really paying attention to the fact that you're by yourself. Take a risk and do something that scares you, because there's a very good chance that you could be rewarded for it. 

19. Learn to say "no" .

People are going to ask us to do things that we don't want to do, just as surely as the sun rises in the morning. You are, however, entitled to say no to things that you do not want to do. "No." It's a complete sentence, and it can set you free. 

20. Get out of the "waiting for a special occasion" mindset

Sometimes, if you keep waiting for the "right time" to do something, it'll never come. It's okay to open up that expensive bottle of wine that you've been saving for the "right" occasion just because you finally finished that really difficult project that you were working on. It doesn't need to be a huge occasion for you to throw a celebration for yourself — just celebrate yourself because you can! 

21. Go to therapy.

Self-care and treating ourselves isn't always about going to brunch and getting mani-pedis. It's about making sure that we're taking care of ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically. Going to therapy is the ultimate treat-yourself ritual because we all have things that we need to work through and therapy helps us stop carrying around the baggage that's weighing us down; and who doesn't want to travel light? 

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