5-Dollar Rainbows for the Soul – An Important Part of Practicing Self-Care

I think we all should make an effort to treat ourselves to more five-dollar rainbows. They have a positive effect on our emotional, and sometimes physical, wellbeing, they are usually easy to get, and best of all, they don’t cost a lot of money. Now what the heck are five-dollar rainbows, you may ask? I recently came across this term in a book I was reading (Love the Wine You’re With by Kim Gruenenfelder) and kind of instantly liked it. I had been familiar with the idea before but had never heard such a fun and fitting word being used for it. In the author’s words, “a five-dollar rainbow is something that doesn’t cost a lot or take much time but that makes you happy” (Chapter 39). In other words, it’s the small things you can treat yourself to on a daily basis that can make your day just a little bit sweeter. Anything from a piece of chocolate, a nice latte, 30 minutes of reading a book you like, a sparkly new nail polish you saw at the store, a quick phone call with a friend, or a walk with your dog. Basically anything that just makes you happy. Right now. In the moment. We tend to be so busy and caught up in all the tasks we have to get done, all the deadlines we have to meet, all the places we have to be that we sometimes forget to give ourselves a break and recharge. It’s not sustainable to focus on everything but us all day. Eventually we will be drained, exhausted, overwhelmed, defeated. Although not a magic cure, granting yourself a five-dollar rainbow in moments when you feel that everything is dreadful can put you back on track to a happier, more energized self so you can continue to kick ass for the rest of the day.


My Personal Example of a Five-Dollar Rainbow

I will share one of my recent five-dollar rainbow stories with you before giving you specific tips on how to implement this. Last Friday was the first day that felt like spring: blue skies, birds chirping, lots of sunshine and warm enough to leave the house without a jacket for the first time this year. I had been working long hours the past couple of days, hadn’t slept much, and overall felt a little unsettled. I was working from home that day. Towards the end of the afternoon I started feeling unwell and a headache coming on. I just wanted to go sit on the couch, take a break and do nothing for a while. Maybe even for the rest of the day. At least that’s how I felt in that moment. All the sudden everything was too much and I was annoyed at my body that it thought a headache would be a good idea right now. At the same time, over the years, I have learned to listen to my body when it tells me that it’s time for a break. Then I almost accidentally looked out the window and was reminded of what a gorgeous day it actually was. That’s when the decision was made: instead of slouching over to the couch and wallowing in self-pity feeling bad for myself I looked over to my dog and asked, “Do you want to play ball?” He’s a ball junky so you can imagine his reaction (and he’s an extremely calm dog otherwise). Now there was definitely no chickening out anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I always refer to myself as being solar-powered so going outside and enjoying the sunshine on a walk with my dog really is one of my favorite things. This is where the idea of the five-dollar rainbow comes in. Even if it didn’t feel like the most appealing activity given the circumstances I knew I would enjoy it once I got outside and I would feel much better and re-energized afterward. So off we went. Equipped with my “dog backpack” which contains a tennis ball, a ball launcher, a plastic container that serves as a dog bowl, and a bottle of water, we both made our way out to the field by the woods and got some exercise and sunshine in. Long story short: I treated myself to a five-dollar rainbow and really did feel much better almost instantly.


5 Tips on How to Get Started

Now there are a few important takeaways to note and clarifications to be made before you put this into action:

  1. Five-dollar rainbows are not necessarily the healthy or socially more approved choices. In my case, getting exercise and enjoying the weather was my version of a five-dollar rainbow. In that same situation, a five-dollar rainbow for you could have actually been to go sit on the couch, make yourself a nice cup of tea, and watch TV or read a book. There is no right or wrong. There is no judgment. Just listen to yourself and do whatever makes you happy.
  2. Which brings me to my second, and in my opinion very crucial, point: really own your five-dollar rainbows. If you decide that indulging in a piece of chocolate or drinking a nice glass of wine is something that makes you happy and should therefore constitute a five-dollar rainbow in your world, there is no feeling guilty or ashamed afterward! This is an important part of self-care: being kind, compassionate, and loving to yourself and your body. If you feel worse than before, it negates the whole point of self-care.
  3. Give yourself permission to be a little bit selfish from time to time. Go chase those five-dollar rainbows. I dare you.
  4. At first, it’s probably not going to come easy to you to put this into action. When we’ve been operating in a certain way for a long time, it’s hard to do things differently, to make a change. It’s probably going to happen that you find yourself in one of those situations where you could really need to cash in for a five-dollar rainbow, but you don’t even notice it. It takes some time and practice to become aware of the times that warrant a little break. So be patient with yourself and whenever you do become aware of such a situation don’t hesitate to be a little bit selfish. 😉
  5. And lastly, I recommend you make yourself a list of at least 20 five-dollar rainbow items (my list has 50 items) so it will be easy and handy for you to reference and quickly find an appropriate and appealing choice when you need it.


As I said before, this is certainly not a magic cure or perfect solution for all your hardships and worries. But it will be a first step in the right direction and in making a positive change in your life. Take delight in the small pleasures, and nothing will feel quite as bad as it did before.


What are some examples of five-dollar rainbows that will make it onto your list?


About the author:

Frauke is a professional Work Frustration Coach, Life Crafter, and has a Masters in Positive Organizational Psychology. She supports women who are frustrated with their work situation and want to regain control of their lives. As a life crafter, she shows people that they have a choice in creating their future and uses a unique approach incorporating hypnosis and positive psychology tools into traditional coaching techniques. If you’re interested in finding out more and want to sign up for a free Clarity Session, contact her here:

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