Be your own valentine and improve your wellbeing.
Not everyone is a fan of Valentine's Day! Whilst it can be a nice reminder to do something special for someone you love, it doesn't always illicit warm and fuzzing feelings for everyone for various reasons. So, this year, why not give yourself a gift?
When we talk about self-gifting as an aspect of self-care, I'm not talking about an excuse to buy whatever you want whenever you want and do it under the guise of "self-care" (sorry). But, I'm referring to the occasion where you just need a little a pick me up. The focus is on gifting yourself something that you need at the time to fulfil a purpose of boosting your well-being. We'll go into more detail further on how to self-gift with purpose. There is a time and place, and beneficial way to go about it to actually reap the benefits. Hang in to the end of this blog post where it will all hopefully make sense and give you a clear understanding of exactly how to self-gift to boost your mood.
There is psychology research regarding the benefits of self-gifting, which we are going to take a quick look at in this blog post, as well as the reasons why turning this time of year into a self-care or self-love time can be a great way to boost your mood. Be your own valentine!
What this blog will look at:
1. What self-gifting really means
When we think about the reason for giving a gift, it is a selfless act to show someone that we care. Generally we give gifts for Christmas, birthdays, an anniversary, graduation and other special occasions as our way to celebrate someone and their achievements. We've all heard the saying "it is better to give than to receive". Whilst there are MANY psychological benefits to giving gifts (perhaps we will go into that another time), including giving your time and financial support to charity, these benefits can also ring true when we give ourselves a gift.
Self-gifting is about celebrating you; that person you look at in the mirror each morning who spends each day taking care of a household, children, developing a successful career, or even working full-time as well as taking care of your home and kids. That person that often gets thought of last, if ever. Self-gifting is acknowledging your importance by gifting yourself something you need, something you have perhaps always wanted, or something that will bring you joy. This doesn't have to be something expensive or even require spending any money at all! The motivation is boosting your mood with the focus being on the purpose of the self-gifting experience.
Psychological research tells us that the results of taking care of your own wellbeing is a greater inclination to help others. So what better way to take care of those around you, than by taking care of yourself! Unfortunately, as Professor Jacqueline Rifkin, assistant professor at Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business discovered, it is when we most need some self-love that we don't do it. She states that,
“When people are anxious about money and time pressures, they believe that they won’t be able to focus on the self-gift experience and therefore won’t benefit, and so they don’t take opportunities to self-gift.”*
She goes on further to explain that our often natural thinking to decline something that our overall wellbeing would actually benefit from, such as getting a massage when we are stressed, is very counter productive. Her research shows that when people are stressed, they are less likely to spend money on self-care related purchases as they feel they wouldn't be able to enjoy the experience. When we are stressed is when we most need some self-love! Follow up studies however, demonstrated that...
"people who were initially feeling stressed were much happier and more relaxed after self-gifting. They felt less stressed and less crunched for time."*
Woohoo! Self-gifting for the win!
2. The benefits of self-gifting
Firstly, I think we need to address the biggest barrier we all have when it comes to self-care in general: TIME! So, whilst I could make this section rather large with referencing a whole stack of research on the mood boosting benefits of self-gifting, let's save some time and get to the point. I just want to share two main points I think summarise the benefits of self-gifting:
Those who feel time poor actually receive three times the benefits from a self-gifting experience compared with others who feel time isn't a barrier...just saying!**
Self-gifting provides the opportunity to take a break from the day-to-day stressors and offers an "escape", which research tells us most people seek whether they realise it or not.**
3. How to self-gift with purpose
There are some really important factors to ensure your act of self-gifting provides you with the ultimate benefits. Consider the following:
Motivation/reason - what are you feeling right now? Are you feeling stressed, bored, overwhelmed, burnt out, stuck, lost, in need of change, or maybe you just need something a little different to break up the everyday routine. Knowing your motivation can be a great indication to help you find the perfect self-gift. It will guide you to discover what it is you need to achieve as a result of your self-gifting experience.
Intention/desired outcome - once you know your motivation you can now work out what it is you want to achieve. Do you need to reduce stress? A fresh perspective? Maybe an adventure to awaken your zest for life? Do you want to restore order to your life? Do you need to feel more connected to your friends, family, partner, kids? To feel beautiful? Do you need to be challenged? Perhaps a refocus on goals to give you direction? What do you want the result to be?
Time availability - yes, I mentioned before that those of you identifying as very time poor actually can receive the greatest benefit from a self-gifting experience! Therefore when I mention 'time availability', take time to find those pockets during your day, week, or month that you can intentionally set aside for you. It could be that today you have 5 minutes between errands and meetings. Take it! Maybe you have a rare weekend free, take it! Perhaps something got cancelled and you now have a whole evening to yourself, take it! Look for the opportunities where you can prioritise yourself.
Finances - do you want to spend money? Perhaps you're in a season where you are saving (like me), or maybe you have some available funds to go towards a self-gift experience.
4. Ideas for self-gifting
This is the part where I give you an extensive list of suggestions to draw from! Well, a list at least. The options are endless and vast, so this is a list of some thoughts that will hopefully inspire you.
Depending on your intentions, almost anything could be considered self-gifting. Therefore, keep in mind all that you have read in relation to gifting with purpose. This is not about self-indulgence, this is about intentionally boosting your wellbeing through an act that is meaningful, purposeful and ultimately beneficial.
FREE / LOWER COST
time in nature (beach, forest, lake etc)
food - perhaps a meal out, or maybe even someone else in your household can cook for you!
weekend away - this could be a girls trip or a romantic getaway
reading a book in the sun
going to the zoo - animals are always good for a laugh
concert - maybe a ballet, musical, favourite band
buy a new book or magazine subscription
day spa - massage, facial, mani/pedi
family trip away
group exercise class, or personal exercise
invest in further education in a field you've always been interested in
movie night at home or out with friends/partner
new workout outfit
re-decorate a room in your home to make it the sanctuary you've always wanted
a journal - perhaps to document your self-care journey, a gratitude journal, a brain dump journal etc.
a new outfit
commit to regular chats with a professional to see how you can live your best life e.g. life coach, counsellor etc
new crafting supplies
a workshop on an area of personal interest (pasta making, crafting, personal growth, finances etc)
create a relaxing outdoor space to encourage you to enjoy the benefits of being outside
new makeup or skincare products (perhaps even new Mandi Makes products *wink)
bath salts / bath bombs
a fuzzy bathrobe
foot spa to keep the gift of pedicures going at home
cafe date by yourself
give yourself a bunch of flowers
spend time in meditation/prayer
Now that you've seen my suggestions, write down the ones that resonate with you, then add your own ideas on what you could do to embrace self-love through self-gifting. I'd love to know what you come up so I can create an even bigger list of suggestions to help others. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @mandi_makes or Facebook @mandimakes