4 signs you deserve to treat yourself, according to psychology

When it comes to our mental and emotional health, we often neglect it, thinking we can simply power through like machines.

But we are not machines. 

We need to treat ourselves from time to time. It’s simple self-care, and it isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. 

Studies back this up. Self-care has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, lower stress, and improve concentration and happiness. 

Sounds good, right?

With this in mind, we dive into four telltale signs that it’s time to treat yourself. 

Whether it’s taking a break, investing in a hobby, or simply acknowledging your achievements – treating yourself is an essential part of overall well-being.

1) You constantly feel drained

Ever feel like you’re running on empty, even after a good night’s sleep? 

As noted by the folks at WebMD, this is a key sign of burnout and often your body’s way of telling you it’s time for some much-needed self-care. 

This isn’t just about physical fatigue—although that’s definitely a part of it. Mental and emotional exhaustion can also make you feel worn out. 

As psychologist and author Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter writes, you may feel “physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted.” 

Sound familiar?

It’s your body and mind waving a white flag and saying, “Hey, we need a break.” 

2) You’ve been putting others first for as long as you can remember 

You’ve been staying late at work to help a colleague, skipping your workouts to attend family events, or spending your weekends doing favors for friends. 

Sound familiar?

While helping and caring for others is commendable, it’s vital to strike a balance between being there for others and taking care of ourselves.

Experts like psychotherapist and award-winning author Ilene Strauss Cohen emphasize the importance of this. She writes, “Taking care of yourself means compassionately accepting yourself for who you are instead of burning yourself out trying to be everything to everyone all the time.” 

And no, it’s not selfish.

As put by bestselling author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek “Putting yourself first is not selfish. Quite the opposite. You must put your happiness and health first before you can be of help to anyone else.”

You can’t pour from an empty cup; taking care of yourself enables you to take better care of others, too.

3) You’ve had a “small win.”

Did you recently complete a task you’ve been postponing? Have you finally tackled that small but nagging item on your to-do list? Or perhaps you managed to get in the habit of waking up early for a morning jog? 

While we often strive toward bigger and more significant goals, it’s too easy to overlook the small victories that pave the way to those achievements. 

But we shouldn’t.

Experts highlight the necessity of rewarding ourselves; our brains thrive on reward systems. 

James Clear, author of the phenomenal bestseller Atomic Habits, stresses the importance of recognizing small wins as a crucial component of his habit loop for building new habits. He argues that these mini-celebrations reinforce the behaviors we wish to establish as routines, effectively wiring our successes into our neural pathways.

Psychologist Jeffrey Bernstein also champions the benefits of celebrating small wins. In a recent Psychology Today post, he wrote, “Celebrating your achievements, no matter how small, is an essential practice for success.” 

Essentially, we need these rewards to maintain momentum. So, if you have made some progress, even if it’s small, don’t hesitate to reward yourself in some way. It’ll keep your brain motivated and focused on taking the next step.

4) You’re irritable over the smallest things

People who lack critical thinking skills often use these phrases in conversation 4 signs you deserve to treat yourself, according to psychology

Have you found yourself snapping at your barista because they got your coffee order wrong? Or maybe you nearly exploded over a minor mistake made by a colleague? 

As noted by experts such as therapist Cheri Locke, heightened irritability is often a sign that you are not taking care of yourself. 

I’ve experienced this one firsthand, and it’s not pleasant. 

A few years ago, as a result of work stress and a lack of progress, I found myself getting angry over the most minor things – traffic, my laptop freezing, the weather, my wife asking perfectly acceptable questions – you name it. 

It wasn’t until a friend pointed out my unusual behavior that I realized I was burnt out and needed to take a step back.

What did I do?

I treated myself. 

I took almost a week to go to the beach, leaving my laptop behind in the city. I swam and took my time, allowing myself to truly disconnect. It was actually quite difficult to switch off until about the third day, but it profoundly helped. 

I knew, however, that just a short trip wouldn’t be enough. After returning, I did some research on how to avoid future burnout. 

The first thing I implemented was more regular exercise, which I had been neglecting. 

Another strategy I adopted was engaging more with nature, which has been consistently linked with improved mental health and enhanced focus—and it really works.

Healthy ways to treat yourself

Treating yourself doesn’t have to mean indulging in expensive or extravagant activities; often, the best treats are those that contribute positively to your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. 

Here are some healthy ways to treat yourself that can enrich your life and uplift your spirits:

Take a digital detox

In today’s always-connected world, it’s tempting to treat ourselves by diving into social media, but it isn’t always the best idea. 

Instead, stepping away from digital devices can be a refreshing treat. Schedule a digital detox day where you turn off your phone, computer, and other digital devices. Use this time to reconnect with the world around you, engage in face-to-face conversations, or immerse yourself in a physical activity that you enjoy.

Escape to nature

This has become one of my favorite ways to treat myself. Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress, enhance mood, and improve overall health. 

Treat yourself to a hike in the local park, a leisurely walk by the beach, or a weekend camping trip. The natural beauty and quiet can help reset your mind and provide a new perspective.

Engage in a creative activity

Creativity is a powerful way to engage your mind and express yourself. Treat yourself by picking up a new hobby or revisiting an old one, such as painting, writing, crafting, or playing a musical instrument. Creative expression can be incredibly satisfying and therapeutic.

Schedule a spa day

Book a massage, a facial, or a spa treatment that you’ve been wanting to try. Allowing yourself to relax and be pampered can rejuvenate your body and mind.

Invest in your personal development

Consider attending a workshop or a seminar that interests you, or invest in books and courses that can enhance your skills or knowledge. Personal growth is a rewarding way to treat yourself and can lead to greater satisfaction and opportunities in life.

Enjoy a great meal

Cooking or going out for a special meal can be a delightful treat. Not only is this a great way to nourish your body, but it can also be a fulfilling sensory experience.

The bottom line

That just about wraps it up for today, folks. 

If you’re experiencing any of these signs, consider it your wake-up call to invest in quality self-care. 

Treating yourself isn’t selfish; it’s essential for your overall health and well-being.

As always, I hope you found some value in this post. 

Until next time. 

Picture of Mal James

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business. As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys. In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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