Fresh bread to bed linen, reading a good book to tucking into a tasty takeaway, enjoying a long soak to watching sunsets, these are a few of our favourite things.
There’s no doubt about it, we all need to feel pampered every now and again.
However, the combination of a pandemic and cost of living crisis has meant many of us are feeling the pinch like never before.
As a result, an increasing number of Brits are realising it’s the little things that mean a lot. Steve Cain explains.
A survey commissioned by a luxury hotels chain has found we don’t need extravagance to feel pampered.It’s the little luxuries that really make the biggest difference to our lives.
Here’s the top ten ...
1. Freshly laundered bed linen
Climbing into a comfy bed with freshly-laundered linen makes us feel relaxed, calm and happy.
That fresh bedding smell helps turn our bedroom into a sanctuary for sleep.
Bedding should be changed once a week.
Most people sweat as much as 200 ml every night. This makes sheets smell and quite clogged up, providing the perfect warm environment for dust mites and fungus to grow.
This could explain the bunged-up nose and excessive snoring that some people experience.
To keep bedding fresher for longer, pull back the duvet every morning, with the window open, for at least 15 minutes to release moisture and humidity.
Synthetic duvets should be washed every three months at sixty degrees and feather duvets dry cleaned twice a year.
2. Reading a good book
Reading benefits both your physical and mental health. Research shows that reading for 30 minutes lowers blood pressure, heart rate and feelings of stress.
Furthermore, those who read more than three-and-a-half hours per week are 23 per cent more likely to live longer than those who don’t read at all. Reading can also improve your memory, vocabulary, communication skills and ability to empathise with others.
Best of all, a good novel allows you to temporarily escape your own world and become swept up in the imagined experiences of the characters.
3. Tucking into a takeaway
Rising household bills mean many of us are less able to dine out now than we did before, so treat ourselves to a take-away instead.
According to the survey, Chinese is the most popular of all, followed by Indian and then pizza.
Just over half of respondents admitted ordering a takeaway gives them something to look forward to, especially at the weekend. And 45 per cent said they now celebrate special occasions with a takeaway, rather than dining in a restaurant.
Unsurprisingly, 42 per cent said they have increased their take-away consumption since the first lockdown.
4. Having a long soak in the bath
Having a bath can be a truly beneficial experience, restoring your sense of self, reducing anxiety and soothing aching muscles.
To get the most out of a soak, you should allow yourself at least twenty minutes in the water and a little time afterwards.
Dimming the lights and lighting a scented candle will also help with the relaxation process, and taking a magazine into the bathroom helps you to unwind and relax. Bubbles or bath bombs are a luxurious optional extra.
A bath before bed also aids a restful night’s sleep and enhances your mood. A fluffy bath towel should be placed over a radiator or towel warmer and comfy leisurewear or pyjamas should be on hand for when you’re dry.
5. A fresh haircut
The right hairstyle can make us appear years younger and help create the impression of certain personality traits – professionalism, rebelliousness or confidence, to name but a few.
Visiting a hair salon can seem like an oasis in a stressful or busy schedule with some 70 per cent of women saying they feel more attractive after they’ve had their hair done.
6. Watching the sun set
Admiring a sunset allows the mind and body to release tension and tightness. Breathing tends to be slower and deeper, the flow of oxygen throughout the body provides a boost to the brain, and emotions become more positive.
Appreciating nature provides a break from the stresses and strains of everyday life, leaving you feeling refreshed and renewed. Plus, Mother Nature’s entertainment is completely free and won’t cost you a penny.
7. Enjoying a cuppa made by someone else
When in a dilemma or feeling stressed, 70 per cent of Brits turn to a calming cuppa – that’s significantly more than those who opt for something stronger! Coffee now outranks tea as the UK’s most popular cuppa with 2.5 cups of coffee being consumed to every cup of tea.
But whatever your choice of brew, it always tastes better apparently when made by someone else!
8. Watching a favourite film
Whether it’s a romantic chick-flick, macho action movie or classic blockbuster from Hollywood’s golden era, re-watching a favourite movie offers the opportunity to indulge in escapism. It’s also thought to be a predictably comforting and reassuring activity.
Scientists also say that laughter (and crying) really is the best medicine with a research study showing that laughing at a comedy caused the subjects’ blood vessels to dilate by 22 per cent, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress.
Watching sad films boosts the production of endorphins, a chemical associated with increased pain tolerance and, ironically, feeling good.
9. Buying freshly baked bread
There is something satisfying and reassuring about buying bread that has just been made, fresh out of the oven, rather than from a supermarket shelf.
One of the most prominent factors is the distinct smell, which is so alluring that there is no other item in a shop that can draw you in as effectively.
Freshly baked bread is also better for you as it tends to be better quality, healthier for your heart and less fattening. There’s nothing else like a warm baguette, crunchy on the outside and softly textured within, buttered and enjoyed with ham and cheese.
10. Receiving a hand-written letter
There’s nothing more emotionally uplifting than receiving a hand-written letter, beating an e-mail or text every time!
The physical nature of the letter and the knowledge that it was scribed by hand makes it more personal and precious.
The most common reason for sending a hand-written letter is to thank the recipient for something. Gratitude makes us happier, as well as bringing joy to the person being thanked.