You’ve earned it: Learn about the benefits of rewarding yourself

February 23, 2022 - 9 min read

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Why is it important to reward yourself?

When should you reward yourself?

How to reward yourself

4 benefits of rewarding yourself

Moving forward

Hollywood actor Dwayne Johnson has a saying: “Don’t cheat yourself, treat yourself.” It’s a simple but powerful phrase. Life is tough, so you deserve to reward yourself now and then. 

Despite what you may have heard, rewarding yourself is a good habit to build. However small, a reward is a good motivation to continue and feel proud of your accomplishment.

Rewards can look different for everyone. That might be some online shopping that ends in a new outfit for some, but maybe it’s concert tickets, dinner at a fancy restaurant, or skipping a workout for others. 

Regardless of how you prefer to treat yourself, it’s something you should practice.

Why is it important to reward yourself?

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It can be hard to embrace the mindset that rewarding yourself is necessary, but it will benefit your mental health

Biologically, rewards increase dopamine levels in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy and increases our memory retention, helps us sleep, and regulates our mood and appetite. A surge in dopamine reinforces specific behaviors as worthwhile. 

Experiencing a rise in dopamine levels is addictive, and we physically and mentally crave that feeling again. When we’re content, we’re more productive. 

Don’t worry about becoming dependent on rewards. You’re training your mind to regard hard work as a reward in itself. 

Dopamine rushes are one of the reasons people get addicted to video games or social media; the constant gratification that comes from posting photos or completing quests overstimulates our brains. In these cases, overconsumption can do more damage and decrease our motivation to acquire dopamine from productive tasks like our chores, exercise, social interactions, or from actual items. We have to make sure that our rewards are concrete and meaningful, not frivolous and constant. 

Building new physical and mental routines takes time and patience, but the best things come from dedication. Rewarding yourself is all about cultivating a new habit and long-term personal growth. At BetterUp, our coaches are here to help guide you as you walk this path.

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When should you reward yourself?

You should reward yourself more often than you think. Many of us focus on the negatives, like how much work is left or our struggle to succeed. 

Having immediate satisfaction is wonderful, but there’s something to be said about delayed gratification. Holding out for later builds resilience, determination, and it’s even more satisfying once you complete your task. You’ll feel more deserving of whatever you’ve been waiting for. 

Rewarding yourself for your successes, however frequent and small, matters. 

How to reward yourself

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You can treat yourself in many ways after a job well done. Below are a few healthy reward ideas to help you: 

  1. Start that new book you've wanted to read. 
  2. Watch one or two episodes of your favorite show. 
  3. Enjoy a bubble bath or a hot shower.
  4. Eat some chocolate or ice cream. Food rewards are as delicious as they are effective. 
  5. Sleep in.
  6. Order in or go out to eat at your favorite restaurant.
  7. Exercise or try a new workout class. 
  8. Spend time with your loved ones. 
  9. Visit the theater, museum, or a sporting event. 
  10. Have a Netflix or game night.
  11. If possible, take a day off work. 
  12. Splurge (within reason). Buy yourself a new shirt or pair of shoes.
  13. Listen to a playlist of your favorite music.
  14. Have a short outing to a local coffee shop.  

Remember, you can be rewarded in non-materialistic ways, too, like a paycheck, weight loss, or receiving recognition. 

Everyone enjoys different rewards; if it makes you happy, it doesn’t matter what form it comes in.

4 benefits of rewarding yourself

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Don’t underestimate the impact of self-reward. Repeated encouragement leads to a boost in self-confidence, and you’ll feel more prideful and excited about your efforts.

Besides the hike in dopamine levels, other benefits that come with rewards include: 

1. Less procrastination

Knowing that you’ll experience a rush when you finally complete a task that you’ve been working on for what feels like forever will motivate you to finish it. 

2. Your thinking will become more deliberate and focused

Knowing that you need to finish the task at hand will help you stay focused and aim for that reward.

3. You’ll be able to eliminate distractions better

Why would you pick up your phone and scroll through Instagram when finishing your work means you can take a bath and do a face mask? Focusing on what you want — your reward — will also keep you focused on how to get there.

4. Positive reinforcement will become a regular practice

Checking off boxes on your to-do list is addicting, and it’s great fuel to propel you through the workweek. With any luck, finishing your work will be just as rewarding as whatever you’re gunning for now. 

We all need incentives. Rewards give you a mental break while providing you with an extra bit of momentum to get back to the grind. 

Moving forward

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Others can cheer you on as you work through your responsibilities, but it ultimately comes down to you — you’re your biggest source of inspiration and motivation. Treating yourself right isn’t selfish; it's healthy. 

At BetterUp, we believe that everyone is capable of positive transformation, starting with good self-care. Bringing together AI technology, world-class coaching, and behavioral science experts, we strive to help every individual unlock their greater potential, purpose, and passion.

We won’t sugarcoat it – life is tough, but so are you, and our coaches are here to provide the perspective and accountability you need to keep going. If you’re willing to put in the work, we’ll support you every step of the way. 

Spoil yourself when you can: you’ll thank yourself for doing so because it makes the journey worthwhile. As celebrated author and financer Nitya Praska said: “Celebrate personal victories because no one else understands what it took to accomplish them.” 

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Published February 23, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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