By Dylan Foster
Treating yourself to items that aren’t absolute must-haves can seem like an outright indulgence, but some gifts can give back by helping you maintain your health and well-being year around. Here are a few suggestions for personal presents that may improve your life without breaking the bank.
Invest in Tools to Encourage Mindfulness, Moving
Indulging in a few affordable items that will help increase your tendency toward mindfulness and movement can go a long way toward improving your physical, mental and emotional health. For instance, all it takes to start a regular walking routine is a comfortable pair of shoes. Or, investing in a mat and a cushion can encourage you to meditate and practice yoga more often.
If you doubt such small gifts to yourself can improve your health and well-being, consider this: regular physical activity has a plethora of benefits including helping you control your weight, reducing your risk of developing health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, strengthening your bones and muscles and increasing your ability to perform daily activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Exercise can also boost your mood by increasing your body’s levels of endorphins and other natural substances that help reduce stress and regulate mood. It can also balance your levels of stress hormones including cortisol. However, if the body is overproducing the stress hormone, it can cause issues including depression, insomnia and weight gain.
Meditation and other mindfulness practices also can help you manage stress by giving you a new perspective on stressful situations, increasing patience and tolerance and reducing negative emotions, according to information provided by the Mayo Clinic. Meditation can also increase practitioners’ sense of self awareness and focus on the present moment. Plus, many organizations and agencies offer free or low-cost sessions to help people hone their meditation techniques.
Give Yourself the Gift of Healthy Food
If you find yourself skipping meals, hitting the drive-through or opting for too many unhealthy convenience foods, it might make sense to spring for some tools that will make it easier to prepare healthy meals in advance. For instance, high-quality, environmentally friendly food storage containers keep food fresh longer. So meals you prepare on weekends or whenever you have extra time will still be tasty when you warm them up after a long day at work later in the week.
The right containers will also make pre-packing your lunches easier, saving money on workday meals from restaurants or store delis. Another money-saving bonus: prepping meals in advance means you can put together one big grocery list for the week, making it simpler to shop for sale items.
Other Gifts to Facilitate Health, Happiness
If your budget allows for a bigger gift to yourself, consider something that will improve your self-esteem or address an issue that you feel has been holding you back. For instance, if you’ve never earned a college degree, but feel it would jumpstart your career and your confidence, now might be the time to pursue higher education. Or, if persistent dental problems cause you pain and embarrassment, dental implants could improve your health and quality of life.
Before you let the cost of bigger-ticket items derail your dreams, investigate options for financial assistance. Your current employer may offer tuition stipends and you may also be able to receive funds through government and nonprofit organizations, to name a few possibilities. And medical or dental organizations and schools may also offer grants or reduced-cost services in some circumstances that could put a life-changing procedure within reach for you.
So consider investing in yourself through gifts that could boost your health and well-being now and for years to come.
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