I’m a huge fan of grabbing little indulgences or surprises for my kids here and there to help make them¬†feel better after a bad day or, you know, just make them feel special. But when it comes to me, I have gotten pretty good at rationalizing myself right out of treating myself, even though I know that these little things are¬†not necessarily treats but rather small ways I can help brighten my own mood. And they definitely have¬†a trickle down effect into my work, my kids, and yes, my own mental health.

No surprise then that¬†I welcomed the final challenge of our sponsor Aetna’s Month of Mindfulness #Mindful30 challenge, which asked me to stop and smell the roses, literally. (Though, truth be told I’m more of a tulips¬†kind of girl, but same idea.)

The whole idea is that I take some time to appreciate the little joys, like flowers, which I really do love, to help me find more satisfaction with life.

With that, here are some of¬†my favorite¬†go-to little¬†indulgences that always work to make me feel better, all of which won’t break the bank.


1. A drugstore lip color 

Not only is a new¬†drugstore lipstick or gloss a fun, affordable pick-me-up, but it’s a cool way to dabble in a trend that may only last a season¬†or¬†two. Though¬†I have to be honest. Just walking around a drugstore alone with no kids is one of my favorite things to do, even if I don’t actually leave with anything.

2. A fancy coffee or tea drink

Small indulgences to help your mood: A fancy coffee or tea, perhaps in this funny coffe mug by Avonnie Studio

Mom mug via Avonnie Studios

I¬†have pretty much¬†weaned myself from fancy coffee drinks to save some cash, but when I’m feeling a little down, I’ll stop by my local coffee shop and get a specialty drink — Americano with steamed soy for me. I actually like to bring my own¬†ceramic mug, which isn’t necessarily great for travel, but for whatever reason, it makes coffee taste¬†so much better then when it’s in a¬†cardboard to-go cup.

3. A grocery store bouquet of flowers

Considering how excited I get when I receive flowers from someone else, I really should do this more myself, which is why I’m so glad part of this #Mindful30 challenge was to do just that. Fresh buds — roses or otherwise — really do brighten up a home or office, especially during these dark winter months.

You can easily grab¬†a small bunch¬†of your own favorite flowers at your local grocery store or deli (or subway station if you live in NYC) that won’t break the budget, all while you’re doing your regular shopping. When I get home, I tend to split¬†the bouquet into a few smaller ones so I’ve got some flowers spread throughout my bedroom, kitchen, and living room.

4. A new journal or notebook

Small indulgences to help your mood: Moleskine Volant journals at Target

As a writer and expert list-maker, I¬†love journals and tend to fill them up quickly. Also, I must have passed on my love for them to my kids because they always end up stealing mine. I personally love Moleskine¬†notebooks, which can you even find at Target. There’s just something wonderful about cracking open a brand new journal, whether it’s for story ideas, listing¬†funny things my kids said, or to remind myself to take the trash out. Yes, I still like to write that down in pen.

And then cross it off. Ahhhhh.

5. A polish change 

Lots of people don’t know that you can pop into a nail salon and save money just by asking¬†for a polish change. They’re quick and cheaper than a full manicure, and you leave with cut, filed, and painted nails, which, if you’re like me, isn’t something you can do quite so well on your own.

6. A movie rental

Small indulgences to help your mood: Rent a movie! One of my favorites is Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman

As much as I love binge-watching shows on Netflix and Hulu and Amazon, there’s something fun about¬†renting¬†a movie that I’ve really been wanting to watch for awhile, and treating myself to a grown-up movie night after the kids are in bed. In the past I’ve limited myself to just the freebies, but that really cuts out a lot of the new releases that I really want to see but never actually do. And with the Oscars around the corner, I have a little motivation to indulge more often than I would before, though my latest “mini splurge” was Sense and Sensibility in honor of Alan Rickman’s passing.

7. A favorite magazine 

I’m not sure about you, but a magazine is a super, huge treat for me. Mostly because when¬†I’m traveling somewhere, I’m using my down time for working and I don’t actually take the time to sit and read for pleasure. But what’s that¬†saying about Jane and all work and no play? Turns out, when I grab one of my favorite magazines, like Real Simple or In Style, and set aside some time to read them¬†— for¬†me that means in¬†the bathtub¬†—¬†I realize I¬†feel a little more¬†like my old self. The one who used to have lots of subscriptions. And while I love digital magazines on my iPad, there’s just something about holding the paper in my hands, and then getting it wet with tub water, that feels a little indulgent and makes me very happy.


The views and opinions expressed here are purely the author’s own, and do not necessarily represent the views of Aetna. Thanks to Aetna and their site aetnamindfulness.com for sponsoring this post series. 

top image via neil conway/flickr/creative commons