I Was Laid Off Due To COVID-19. My Wellness Routine Is Helping Me Cope

Welcome to Refinery29’s Feel Good Diaries, where we chronicle the physical and mental wellness routines of women today, their costs, and whether or not these self-care rituals actually make you feel good. Have your own Feel Good Diary about how you’re coping around the COVID-19 outbreak? We’d love to hear how you’re prioritizing your mental and physical health at this time. Submit your entry here!

Today: A woman who was laid off due to COVID-19 finds solace in going for bike rides, FaceTiming her friends, and starting a garden.

Age: 24
Occupation: Marketing Coordinator (but currently out of work)
Salary: Previously $56,000 a year; now $1,104 a week through unemployment
Location: Monmouth County, NJ


Day One

8:30 a.m. — I was recently laid off from my job as a marketing coordinator due to COVID-19, and I’ve been making time to look for jobs every morning. This morning is no different: I wake up and sort through some pending emails.

I’m quarantining with my parents instead of in my small apartment outside of New York City. I’m still paying rent there, but it’s nice to spend some time with my family (and not pay for groceries at the same time).

I make some coffee using my Keurig, and do a little work in the garden that I decided to start here in an attempt to stay busy. I bought a few small plants, including tomatoes, jalapeños, bell peppers, and parsley from a local grocery store ($18). Starting a garden is something I always say I’ll do but end up not following through with. It was really relaxing to be outside while the weather was so nice, and helped me forget about the troubles going on in the world for a little while.

4 p.m. — After tending to my garden and having lunch (Greek yogurt with fruit and some pretzels and PB on the side) I decided to do an at-home workout. I like to mix up my workouts, especially with all of the time I have now to explore new exercises. Today I did a free ClassPass on-demand yoga class for 30 minutes, and some ab workouts. ClassPass has tons of free workouts and a selection of classes you can pay for that are live streamed. I used to pay $40 a month for a subscription, but ClassPass has frozen all subscriptions since coronavirus has closed gyms.

After the class, I went for a-mile-and-a-half run, and walked for another hour with my dog while FaceTiming a friend who lives in London. Then I took a quick shower and spent about an hour applying to jobs and messaging people on LinkedIn about opportunities.

It feels really great to be productive, especially on a Monday. While this is definitely not the ideal situation, taking advantage of the time to do as much as I can helps me feel better.

Daily Total: $18

Day Two

10 a.m. — I got up and made my bed, made coffee, and went to the garden to water the plants. I read that playing classical music helps plants grow better, so I found a Spotify playlist called “Grow Green: Classical Music for Plants”. I never thought I’d enjoy listening to classical music, but I guess that quarantine has changed me. It makes me feel productive and puts me in a good mindset.

It’s also my dad’s birthday, so I went out to buy a chocolate cake for him (with a mask and gloves on, of course) as well as some yogurt and fruit for myself ($19). Heading to the store gave me a lot of apprehension. Seeing people with masks on is kind of scary. While I know this helps to protect everyone, it’s something that I still need time to get used to. 

Before COVID-19, I would spend a lot of time food shopping and checking out new products in a leisurely way — I genuinely enjoyed it. Now, I try to go shopping as little as possible, and I only pick up things I actually need.

5 p.m. — I get back to my parent’s house and go for a 13-mile bike ride on my beach cruiser, which I purchased at the start of quarantine (definitely worth it). It was nice because I was in the sun and got a little tan, and of course got a great workout in. I also noticed I’m running low on my favorite skincare products from Drunk Elephant (I always buy the Bare With Us Kit that has six products) so I re-ordered them from Sephora ($100).

9 p.m. — It’s Cinco de Mayo, so I made a taco salad to celebrate. I used romaine lettuce, ground beef with taco seasoning, olives, salsa, black beans, a bit of Greek yogurt as a sour cream substitute, and a few corn chips to add some crunch (all of which were already in my parent’s house). We then held a Zoom birthday party for my dad with some family members. While it’s definitely a different type of birthday party than we’d usually have, we still lit candles on his cake… And it feels nice knowing we’re still able to stay connected. After the Zoom, I started watching the Hulu show Normal People.

Daily Total: $119

Day Three

10 a.m. — Today is the first full week that I am officially unemployed, and I had to claim my benefits for the first time to receive my payment for the week. I felt a bit anxious that I would somehow mess up my unemployment, but to my surprise it was easy and worked. I have heard so many horror stories about it, even from my former coworkers, so it was definitely not something I was expecting to be easy. I should be receiving my first unemployment check this week. I feel a bit less peppy today because of the weather.  

3 p.m. — I spent a while on LinkedIn, applied to several jobs, and answered some emails. I find myself feeling a little down and anxious when I’m job searching. There aren’t many companies that are hiring right now. I have a LinkedIn premium account which allows InMail messaging, which is a great way to network and is how I’ve landed interviews and jobs in the past. But most of the people who have responded to my messages have told me about hiring freezes, as expected. I know that this process requires patience, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  

I decided to take a break from looking at my screen to do some yoga, along with a booty band workout. I also checked out some of Jessica Olie’s workouts that she posts on her instagram (@jessicaolie) and did a quick one. I then ordered a GymShark outfit for me to wear and work out in this summer ($75).  Exercising has been a distraction from the anxiety I’ve been feeling, and the new workout gear is a nice treat to myself.

Daily Total: $75

Day Four

10 a.m. — I had my typical morning, watering my plants and going through some emails. I also had a call with a recruiter about a potential job. It feels good to have some sort of hope during this job search. I picked up some coffee from my favorite local shop that just reopened for takeout orders, and dropped some off to a friend that lives nearby and has been working from home ($11). I took my dog out for a two-mile walk and called another friend to catch up. 

4 p.m. — The weather is beautiful out, so I met up with my cousin who lives nearby to go for a (socially distant) 10-mile bike ride near the beach. I was able to get a little tan, and it was nice to go for a ride with someone else, not just alone. My cousin is also unemployed because of COVID-19, so he had some time to spare. It felt like there was a sense of normalcy because I wasn’t alone and just listening to music, but was able to talk with someone in person. It also made the ride go by quickly. 

Daily Total: $11

Day Five

11 a.m. — This morning I went out for a four-mile run around town after having my coffee. I also got paid for my unemployment for the first time. I felt so relieved that I was paid and I felt really lucky. I know a lot of people were having a lot of trouble getting everything set up, and I wasn’t really confident that the payment would go through seamlessly. It was one less thing to worry about. I did not sleep at all last night because of my anxiety surrounding my unemployment status. I was trying to distract myself by reading and watching Normal People but it didn’t really help.

4 p.m. — I walked my dog for a mile and a half while a friend FaceTimed me. I like to walk while I’m on the phone or FaceTime because it is an easy way to get some more steps in. When I got home, I decided I’d try making banana “nice” cream, which was a recipe I saw on TikTok. All you need is a blended frozen banana, some almond milk, a splash of vanilla extract, and some chocolate chips — it makes an ice cream-like snack, which was pretty yummy. Trying out a new recipe isn’t something I would normally do before quarantine, so I’m trying to take advantage of it when I can, and experiment with different foods.

While I was making this, the neighbors across the street were having a drive-by birthday celebration for one of their kids, so I took the dog out to watch and wave from afar. For lunch I made a dish of cannellini beans and tomatoes, basil, and brown rice. 

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

11 a.m. — This morning I went to the grocery store and picked up strawberries, chocolate, and flowers for Mother’s Day ($40). Mother’s Day will obviously be different this year, but I wanted to do something nice for my mom regardless! The grocery store was extremely packed this morning. Everyone was buying flowers, and it was very stressful. I’m still getting used to being in the stores with a mask and gloves on. 

I spent the morning making the chocolate-covered strawberries and chocolate-covered bananas and pretzels that were already in my house. I topped some with sprinkles and some with crushed walnuts.

7 p.m. — For dinner, we ordered food from a local Asian restaurant and ate it together.  Then I caught up with my friends from college on the House Party app. Before quarantine my Saturdays looked very different, and I would have been going out to a bar and hanging out with friends in person after going out to dinner. I was still able to order some food out, support a local business, and catch up with friends, though, so it was an enjoyable night. It also helps to know that all of my college friends are stuck in their houses as well, eliminating any feelings of FOMO.

Daily Total: $40

Day Seven

10 a.m. — After waking up and watering the plants, I realized the lemon I planted earlier this week had started to sprout! 

My cousins and I have decided to do a weekly family Zoom call, so I hop on that for about an hour and then take my dog for a-mile-and-a-half walk. This weekly Zoom has become part of my quarantine routine, so it feels good to have a bit of consistency and family time. Thankfully everyone is healthy, so it was just nice to catch up.

7 p.m. — One of my cousins is expecting, and the couple decided to arrange a drive-by gender reveal for our family. We all parked outside of their house, which is also conveniently in the same town as my parent’s house that I am staying at. The guests stood outside of their cars with masks on and the couple popped party-poppers that exploded with pink smoke and glitter. It’s a girl! The event was also on Facebook Live for those family and friends that couldn’t be there in person.

After the quick but exciting celebration, my two siblings (along with my sister’s new quarantine puppy) came to our house to celebrate Mother’s Day socially distant in the yard. It was a nice spring day, so we spent the remainder of it eating and drinking on the patio. It was weird to have to stay outside and not have anyone in the house, but it felt good to have family around in person, and made everything feel a bit more normal. Of course, the sangria I made helped to diminish the worries of the virus for a little bit as well.

Daily Total: $0

Weekly Total: $263

Reflection: Wellness has always been one of my top priorities. During this time, my mental health has been put into jeopardy. I think that when I treat my body right and stay active, I feel better mentally. I’m trying my hardest to take advantage of the time I have to experiment with new recipes or try new workouts. Before quarantine began, I had a pretty packed schedule and more of a routine. Quarantine is teaching me to take things a bit slower.

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