Little Luxuries Can Make a Big Difference for Your Mental Health

Treating yourself doesn't have to be big or expensive

<p>Maskot / Getty Images</p>

Maskot / Getty Images

Medically reviewed by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS

Even if Americans are on a budget, there are certain things they won’t give up. People prioritize everything from purchasing beauty products and eating out at restaurants, to specialty foods and entertainment. For many, these small things are little luxuries that mean a lot.

“A little luxury is something that brings a spark of joy, beauty, or delight to your day. It is not something you need, but it is something that makes your day the tiniest bit more extraordinary,” explains Jillian Amodio, LMSW, Founder of Moms for Mental Health.

Research shows that focusing on savoring something that you see as positive brings you joy and impacts your mental health.

“Incorporating little luxuries into your life is an easy ‘self-hack’ that prioritizes your well-being and enjoyment. By indulging in small, meaningful pleasures, you can reduce stress, boost your mood, and cultivate a more positive outlook,” notes Robert Cuyler, PhD, Chief Clinical Officer at Freespira. “These simple acts of kindness towards yourself can have a noticeable impact on your mental health, helping you build resilience and find joy in everyday moments,” he adds.

You may think you don’t have the time—or money—to add a little luxury into your daily routine. But no matter your budget, whether you’re at home or at work, there are ways to incorporate small pleasures that will benefit you mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Related: Friday Fix: 5 Self-Care Mistakes That Leave You Emotionally Exhausted

Benefits and Examples of Little Luxuries

Hearing the word “luxury” immediately conjures images of relaxation. But little luxuries don’t just provide perceived benefits; taking time for yourself and squeezing in small moments of enjoyment has proven positive effects on your mind and body.

  • Little luxuries relieve stress. Activities like listening to music, hanging out with friends, and meditation have been shown to lessen stress; and each activity can be a luxury for someone. In this way, it improves mindfulness and reduces anxiety. “Physically, little luxuries that promote relaxation and well-being can lead to lower blood pressure, improved sleep quality, reduced muscle tension, and a strengthened immune system due to decreased stress levels,” states Dr. Cuyler.

  • You develop a greater sense of self-compassion. You often hear how important it is to be nice to others—and it is. But as research shows, it’s also crucial to be kind to yourself. It’s hard to be there for friends and family if you haven’t taken care of yourself first.

  • Little luxuries can enhance your creative capabilities and cause you to be more productive. Thanks to pleasurable activities eliminating huge stress levels, research says your cognition levels improve, and your productivity increases.

  • You feel better physically and mentally when you treat yourself to a little luxury. “Little luxuries can trigger the release of feel-good neurotransmitters, improving overall mood,” Dr. Cuyler says.

Just as its name denotes, a little luxury doesn’t have to be big or expensive. “[T]hey can be one piece of your favorite luxurious chocolate, a walk on the beach with no phone, a drive to your favorite place in nature, [or] a small bottle of your favorite scent that you spray as you get dressed each day.  Anything that you enjoy, that helps you savor the moment and feel a lift can be a luxury,” advises Colleen Marshall, Chief Clinical Officer at Two Chairs.

At work, taking a walk around the building, going to your favorite restaurant for lunch, or even buying a cushion to make your chair more comfortable, are all little luxuries. If you’re on the go, traveling with a neck pillow for the plane or grabbing the latest copy of your favorite magazine for the trip are also small but meaningful luxuries.

"A little luxury is something that brings a spark of joy, beauty, or delight to your day. It is not something you need, but it is something that makes your day the tiniest bit more extraordinary"

Jilliam Amodio, LMSW

“As a society we are very focused on productivity, but productivity is worthless without joy, and cannot happen without reprieve. Building in moments of joy and reprieve through little luxuries allows us to reset and increases happy chemicals like dopamine which make us feel better. Life should be enjoyed, not just lived,” Amodio notes.

Related: How to Be More Present

Ways to Add Little Luxuries into Your Everyday Life

Life is so crazy busy—which, if we’re honest, is all the more reason to incorporate little luxuries. But knowing you should do it and actually doing it are two different things.

Upgrade Your Routine

To make these small pleasures a part of your life on a daily basis, you need to be intentional. Put a routine in place that you can follow.

If you buy the coffee that you love and have a special mug you want to drink it in, get up early enough to enjoy this ritual in a peaceful environment. If soaking in a bubble bath or using a special aftershave makes you smile, schedule in the time to make those things happen.

Enhance Your Environment

Another way to add your luxuries into your life is to create a space that relaxes you. The sunroom, the deck, or the front porch could be your little escapes to read a book or watch a basketball game. Fill it with a comfy couch, a porch swing, or a favorite chair.

At work, have a treat you enjoy hidden in one of your desk drawers. When it’s time for your break, stroll outside and enjoy the snack in peace. Even sitting in your car while on break, away from your cubicle and your work phone, can bring the relaxation and solitude you crave.

Related: Yes—You Can Totally Use Interior Design as a Therapy Tool

Schedule Them In

For those once-in-a-while luxuries, put it on the calendar. If you’re leaving the house, pick somewhere that’s not too far, so it won’t disturb the rest of your schedule. A nearby park or the local ice cream shop can be great places for a quick, well-planned, weekly getaway. Time, money, and your personal preferences should all be a part of the planning process.

Keep in Mind

Ultimately, making time for yourself and the things that you enjoy is what is important. The little luxuries that work best are the ones that benefit you.

“It's important to remember that little luxuries are personal and subjective. What feels indulgent to one person may not have the same effect on another. The key is to find what works for you and make it a consistent part of your self-care routine. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish; it's necessary for maintaining good mental health and being your best self for others,” Dr. Cuyler concludes.

Read Next: 5 Types of Self-Care for Every Area of Your Life

Read the original article on Verywell Mind.