There is an abundance of advice on how to treat your self well through sound nutrition, adequate movement (exercise), sleep, and healthy relationships.
But, what about self-care through fun or other pleasures? If you’re all about getting work done and meeting your obligations, fun gets overlooked or habitually dismissed. That’s why some of us need to plan for fun and things to look forward to.
When I was a kid, I didn’t have to contemplate what would bring me more joy and problem-solve how to schedule those activities into my calendar. I’d get home from school, wolf down a bowl of Rice Krispies, and head outside to meet my friends. Minimal planning needed – just a tacit understanding among neighbourhood kids that we’d play.
Not so anymore.
Now my fun is planned and I gleefully anticipate these weekly activities. It’s the anticipation piece I want to explore in this post — the “looking forward to” phase–because it is a way to treat your self and contributes positively to your wellness.
[Any Rocky Horror fans cannot help but hear Frank-N-Furter’s classic line when you read the word “anticipation”🙃]
Benefits of having things to look forward to
It’s a powerful motivator
When I think anticipation, here’s what comes to mind: relish, savour, excited about…
Having things to look forward makes you feel more optimistic and confirms there’s alignment between your goals and intentions. This is motivating and reinforces that you’re doing the right thing for yourself.
It makes you feel better in the present
Research (i.e., Luo et al., 2018 and Monfort et al., 2015) has found that having something positive to look forward to enhances your mood and reduces stress. As I write this post, we’re transitioning from a 2-year-high-restrictions pandemic and there are wars raging across the globe; as such, it’s essential, not selfish, to give yourself a positive, anticipatory boost.
It can combat stress in the moment
Uncertainty can be stressful. Especially for people with perfectionist tendencies because we tend to be highly intolerant to uncertainty.
And, there’s a lot of uncertainty in all our lives. It may come from our own careers, worry we hold about our children or aging parents, concern for the state of our environment, relationships, etc.
Planning for things to look forward to can give you a sense of control, which offsets the uncertainty that is present in other areas.
Examples of ways I treat myself and things I look forward to
I get grumpy, unmotivated and even despairing when the weeks feel “blah” and filled only with obligations. I take preventative measures against that (a form of self-care), by planning for some fun.
At present, here are some of the non-work things I look forward to in a typical month or week:
- Singing at choir or singing lessons
- Family dinners
- Spending 1:1 time with a close friend
- Going on a hike
- Starting a new book (I looove starting a new book and easing into new-to-me writing, the author’s voice etc)
- A store-bought coffee or other frothy caffeinated hot drink (a weekly indulgence)
The take-away: treat your self to things to look forward to
The bottom line is that you need to be purposeful in planning for things to look forward to. And while I used the word “fun” above, I recognize that for some of us serious, perfectionist, overworking types (!), planning for fun can feel stressful. If that’s so for you, it may be easier to frame it as ‘treating your self to things to look forward to’.
Getting into this practice will prevent endless days of repeating routines and little zest and will make a BIG difference to your outlook, happiness and energy.
Over to you
Where does this idea of “looking forward to” (anticipating? relishing? excited about?) fit in your week? If you don’t have enough of this in your life and want some more, coaching can help! I guarantee it’ll enhance the quality of your life. Contact me for a complimentary consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to it (no pun intended!).
Luo, Y., Chen, X., Qi, S., You, X., & Huang, X. (2018). Well-being and anticipation for future positive events: Evidences from an fMRI study. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 2199.
Monfort, S. S., Stroup, H. E., & Waugh, C. E. (2015). The impact of anticipating positive events on responses to stress. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 58, 11-22.