Cheap, but Meaningful Pampering

by Jill Terry


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Pampering has earned itself a bad reputation. Most of us believe it's the province of the wealthy or the idle. Pampering, you say, is an indulgence you simply can't afford.

Yet, when you consider how vital pampering is to your general well-being, you realize that the question is not whether to pamper yourself, but how. Pampering is anything you do or have done for yourself that

  1. uplifts your spirit
  2. relaxes your body
  3. clears your mind

To get all three of the above is ideal, but even enjoying one or two is probably enough to make you happy. Will your budgetary restrictions make these joys elusive? Definitely not.

Quiet Time

Do you find you have to be in the bathroom to experience solitude? For many, that's the only refuge from non-stop schedules. Our lives get so hectic that our minds function only in "task" mode. What about reflection? What about time to replenish the soul? It can be yours and usually at no financial cost.

  • Grab a catnap. Though it might be tempting to balance your checkbook in the 30 minutes that suddenly appears from nowhere, you may be better served by sleeping. A study by Sleep Research Online looked at the effects of short afternoon naps (less than 30 minutes) and found that they improved performance levels and helped maintain daytime psychological, behavioral and physiological alertness. If you've been running around, your mind and body would like nothing better than a little rest. Just don't forget to set your alarm or you'll miss your next appointment.

  • Take a walk. Taking a good, long walk (at least 30 minutes - 60 if you can do it) airs out the brain. When the body moves, the mind is free to wander. After all that multi-tasking you ask of it every day, doesn't your brain deserve to be left to its own devices now and then?

  • Trade babysitting time. Barter with a friend or neighbor to exchange time watching the children. Tell them if they watch your kids for two or three hours, you'll watch theirs at another time. Then, listen to the sounds of a quiet house and unwind.

  • Read some delicious fiction. Many of us have forgotten how effectively a great piece of fiction can remove us from our lives and put us into someone else's. This kind of escape is downright priceless.

Body Work

Do you sometimes forget you even have a body, so focused are you on thinking and accomplishing? Or maybe your body aches from balancing babies, laundry, and groceries all on one hip? Stress invades our lives when we forget that body, soul, and mind need to be balanced in our lives. Here are some tips for getting back in touch with the body.

  • Raise your heart rate. Do whatever movement you enjoy: aerobics, kick-boxing, walking, yoga, TaeBo, or tennis. But be kind. You don't need to teach your body a lesson or push it toward greatness. The goal here is simply to move and experience a little endorphin rush. Remind your body that you haven't forgotten its need to be used.

  • Get a massage. Yes, this one can be expensive but there are alternatives. Just as some beauty schools offer the services of their students at reduced rates, you may find massage schools with the same deal. Or get a referral from a friend. If money is truly an issue but you crave a massage, try bartering. If you perform a service that the masseur or masseuse can use, you may be able to pay for your massage by performing that service.

Looking Good Leads to Feeling Good

The way we look undeniably affects our psyches and the way we view and approach the world. Can you look good without paying a fortune? Of course you can.

  • Free makeover. Walk through any department store cosmetic department and you're bound to encounter some eager professional with an open make-up kit. Why not say yes to someone anxious to make you look lovely? You might discover some new cosmetic options in the process, as well.

  • Get the girls together. Do you remember why pajama parties were so much fun? Because you were silly and laughed all night. Collect a few of your most entertaining, dearest friends together for a night of facials, nail painting and whatever else strikes your fancy. You'll forget your troubles for a few hours and in the morning, you'll all look better.

  • Pick one thing and highlight it. Looking good takes some work as well as thought, and the whole process can seem overwhelming. So start small. Begin with a weekly manicure or vow to wear your favorite perfume every day. These little touches make you feel just a little more special, which does wonders for lifting your spirits.
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