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While a harmless guilty pleasure brings joy and release, it can be seen as embarrassing or taboo. Here’s why guilty pleasures can be good for your wellbeing, and what healthy indulgence looks like.
From watching your favourite show and enjoying a delicious slice of cake to taking a day off, indulging in life’s pleasures is often associated with guilt. Laziness, selfishness and weakness are also tied to leisure. But why?
According to Psychology Today, guilt may arise from your perception of judgment, either from yourself or others. This is often associated with anything society views as ‘bad for us’. We are also made to feel ashamed for not being ‘productive’, ‘moral’ or having ‘self-control’. As a result, anything pleasurable is seen as something that needs to be earned.
The benefits of indulgence
- Doing something for fun gives you a mental break and gets you out of problem-solving mode. This helps you to deal with stress and pressure better.
- It’s healthy to embrace your need for all kinds of treats and restricting yourself makes it more likely that you’ll overindulge.
- Entertainment can help with emotional release. For example, you may cry or laugh while watching a show, and this has a cathartic effect.
Tips for indulging healthily
Taking a lazy day
What this could look like:
- taking a day off work, shutting down your computer and not reading emails
- saying no to plans and spending all day in bed watching your favourite show
- switching your phone to Airplane Mode and ignoring texts and social media for a day
Eating whatever you want
Food not only nourishes your body, but can also be good for your wellbeing. And although it shouldn’t be used as an emotional crutch, it’s perfectly fine to eat for the senses. Furthermore, depriving yourself of your favourite foods because they are labelled ‘unhealthy’ could lead to overindulgence.
What this could look like:
- eating your favourite foods in moderation
- getting takeout, on occasion, when you don’t feel like cooking
- having comfort foods, or healthy alternatives, when you’re stressed or feeling down
Since many people have suffered financially during the pandemic, overspending shouldn’t be encouraged. However, it’s still important to do nice things for yourself now and then, staying within your budget, of course. This is part of self-care because it reminds you that you deserve to be treated well.
What this could look like
- finally checking out your digital shopping cart
- subscribing to a streaming service such as Netflix, or going to a spa
- buying something just because you like it, not because you need it
For more lifestyle advice related to mental health, read these helpful articles:
The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.
- Holden, C. K. (2021). The Guilty Pleasures That I’m Not Guilty About. [online] Career Contessa. Available at: https://www.careercontessa.com/advice/guilty-pleasure/ [Accessed 8 May 2021]
- Kresnicka, S. (2019). Why We Should Stop Feeling Guilty About Doing Things That We Enjoy. [online] Fast Company. Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/90410619/why-we-should-stop-feeling-guilty-about-doing-things-that-we-enjoy [Accessed 8 May 2021]