Indulgences for the Frugal

by K. M. Praschak


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I recently started reading Save Karyn : One Shopaholic's Journey to Debt and Back, the book about the woman who, deep in debt, begged for help and dollars on the web. While the author lamented the loss of her goodies in a hysterical fashion, her book reminded me that indulgences don't have to cost a lot to make you feel great.

So whether it's 5 o'clock on Friday afternoon or 8:30 on yet another Monday morning, sometimes you need a simple indulgence to keep you going. Here are a few ideas to help you wind down when you're stressed out.

Take a whiff of your favorite scent.

The scent of lavender is a famous de-stresser. Other favorite whiffs may include a perfume you like, the wonderful aroma of a food you love, or a gathering of flowers. Try out a new soap or hand lotion if the price is right.

Go on a mental vacation.

Enjoy a moment back in a spot you visited. Look at a picture from that time or a postcard. Recall what you did to relax there and relive that bliss. If others joined you on that vacation, enjoy a session of "remember when?" with them.

Recharge your body's batteries.

Sometimes we get cranky because our bodies need more fuel. Have a glass of water or some other refreshing beverage. If necessary, find a tasty and nutritious snack that will help you zoom on through to your next mealtime. Maybe it's time for that perfect apple or that herbal tea you've been saving for a special occasion.

Massage away your tension.

Break out your favorite scented lotion and give yourself a good hand massage. Or get those cricks out of your neck. Don't forget about your tired tootsies. A quick soak and a foot rub can do wonders.

Tune in.

Call up a friend or relative. Listen to the birds chatter or the little kids outside as they play. Find that CD you really like and crank it up. Sing, even if your family holds their hands over their ears. The next time you go to the library, check out the audio books and reconnect with a favorite author.

Make something.

The act of creation is a terrific rejuvenator. Get messy with a craft you've always wanted to try and check out the library for reference material to help your project along. Unearth your favorite recipe. Put together a scrapbook that tells you the story of yourself, using memorabilia and office supplies you already have on hand.

Rediscover something wonderful in your closet or jewelry box or desk.

Some treasures languish in hiding for a few years. Go hunting through your possessions and try to find a few items that can brighten your day. You could find a scarf that used to belong to your mother or a beloved relative's ancient ring. Your desk might have hidden away precious pictures of your family that you forgot about until now. A scavenger hunt may even lead you to other dazzling discoveries.

Give yourself permission to do nothing but relax for a few minutes.

For some of us, doing nothing is one of the hardest things to do. Have a seat and try to enjoy yourself. If you're pressed by household and family duties, consider it a time out for grownups.

Say hello to a journal.

A notebook can cost as little a quarter, but it can repay you many times in terms of personal growth. You can make wish lists as elaborate as you like, engage in the loudest complaints, and celebrate your triumphs. Jotting down your thoughts doesn't have to take a lot of time, but it is a ritual that can become as habit-forming and necessary as breathing. Or sign up for an online journal from a reputable and safe site; some of those journals are low-cost or even free.

Do something for someone else.

Sometimes what we put off for ourselves we'll gladly do for others. Perhaps your elderly neighbor needs help getting her groceries into her home. Your daughter might enjoy an in-house manicure session. The kids might want to play a few rounds of catch.

These indulgences don't cost much more than their time, but you'll be rewarded with the social interaction that helps define our lives. Whatever you choose to do, remember that your indulgences are good for you, but they don't have to cost you a lot of time or money.

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