By Tyler Clemmons, LCSW
I hope that after reading the first post in this series, you were able to take some time to practice being friendly to yourself. It has been helpful for me over the past couple of weeks. In the last post, we talked about the importance of building patterns or habits of kindness toward ourselves by being friendly, generous, and considerate toward ourselves.
This week, I encourage you to join me in generosity toward yourself. This immediately makes me think of an episode of one of my favorite TV shows: “Parks and Rec”. In this episode, two of the characters plan a day out each year called “Treat Yo Self.” They spend the whole day spoiling themselves by buying excessive amounts of clothing, drinks, food, massages and more while obviously going severely in debt. While that makes for funny TV, this is not what I mean by being generous to yourself. I am not encouraging you to indulge yourself at the expense of you or your family’s needs. Instead, I would like to encourage those of you who struggle to make time and effort to care for yourself, to give yourself something you enjoy, in the midst of all the time and effort that you spend caring for others.
Generosity involves giving more than is expected. You may have experienced generosity from others before. Maybe you have received a gift from someone that is much nicer than you expected. You may have worked in a job where you received a large tip one night. But money and gifts are just one many ways of being generous. You may have experienced someone volunteering to cover your shift, bringing you dinner when you needed it, or taking you out on their boat for the day.
"Generosity involves going out of your way to do something kind for someone."
In this case, it involves making an intentional effort to do something kind for yourself and giving yourself more than you think you deserve. We all tend to have busy schedules, and some more than others. Making time for self-care may feel like an impossible task to some. If you get that feeling while reading this, you may have to ask for help from friends or family to get some free time for yourself or move some of the less urgent tasks on your to-do list to the next day. If you have too much on your plate, or do not feel that you have the support to ask for help right now, I encourage you to start small in being generous to yourself.
Here are some examples of physical gifts. They can come in all shapes and sizes (and prices):
Go out to dinner or get takeout from a restaurant that you have been wanting to try
Pizza and movie night (if you watch with your family make sure to pick YOUR favorite movie)
Get a massage or manicure
Treat yourself to your favorite snack or candy at the store
Start to plan a vacation or day trip for you or your family
Buy something you have had your eyes on
Get a babysitter for a night out
Maybe money is tight this month, and you cannot prioritize spending any extra money on yourself and still pay the bills. That is okay; there are plenty of ways to be generous toward yourself without spending money:
Give yourself extra rest one day this week
Take your favorite book to a coffee shop for a few hours
Schedule time to be creative (build something, make a craft etc.)
Spend time outdoors
Schedule time to do whatever you really enjoy doing
Watch your favorite show after the kids go to bed
These are just a few examples of the many ways that we can be generous toward ourselves, but I hope that they spark some ideas for you. This week, I encourage you to go out of your way to do something kind for yourself. There is no right way to practice generosity and self-care. It will look different for all of us. You may find yourself feeling like you have not done enough to earn the right to be generous toward yourself, but I encourage you to do it anyway. When we are generous toward ourselves, we have more of ourselves to give to others in our lives. Whatever you do to care for yourself, take time to be intentional about it, get creative, and make it about you.