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 to submit? You can do so here!
Today: A woman who believes in listening to her body, and prioritizing balance. She aims to stick to her self-care rituals, all while struggling with period cramps and traveling.
Editor’s note: All Australian currency is converted to U.S. dollars, and U.S. prices are shown for products sold in the U.S.
Location: Sydney, Australia
Occupation: Investment Manager
6:30 a.m. — I like to start every day with my morning self-care ritual.
I start by burning the “holy wood,” Palo Santo (I’ve heard it’s from sacred, endangered trees that grow in South America, and is said to have restorative qualities) and putting essential oils into my diffuser. Both the diffuser and the wood were gifts. I use my favorite oil: Perfect Potion’s Chakra Balancing Blend ($17). I then brush my teeth and do my daily tongue scraping (my scraper was about $5 from a local market), which is an Ayurvedic practice I picked up this year. I’ve found my sense of taste has become stronger since I added this to my routine.
Next, I meditate using my Calm app ($60/year). I choose a daily guided meditation, which takes about 10 minutes. I always feel more in control of my thoughts, feelings, and reactions for the rest of the day when I do this.
Then, I’m on to my beauty and face ritual, which consists of using a gentle face cleanser (right now I’m loving Bioderma Sensibo foaming gel in the morning ($14.90), a Mario Badescu hydrating rosewater face mist ($7), The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5 hydrating serum ($12.20), Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream ($18), and the Avene Tolerance Extreme Cream moisturizer ($19.70). Then I apply my daily SPF: Ultra Violette Queen Screen 50+ ($32). Our skin is our biggest organ, after all.
Self care is extremely important to me. I feel that taking the time to nurture myself every morning and night promotes my mental health and self esteem. I try to be fully present during this time, focusing solely on the task at hand, rather than letting my mind wander. This is a tip I learned and applied to my beauty ritual after reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment.
8:20 a.m. — I’m lucky that my office always stocks breakfast ingredients for our team. Now, I struggle with an age-old debacle: deciding what to eat. I should pick something I believe is healthy, but I feel like having crumpets slathered in butter and jam. The more nutritious option is a healthy fiber-rich bran with raisins and dried coconut. But it’s bran.
I strike a middle ground, and go for avocado and tomatoes on Soy and Linseed toast — a wholesome mix of fiber and healthy fats. I also grab a mug of peppermint tea.
On my way back to my desk, I grab a cold-pressed green juice from the fridge. It’s a mix of apple, cucumber, celery, kale, silverbeet, and lemon.
9: 20 p.m. — I go to a fun event with my friend tonight, so I’m home a bit later than usual. I make myself a nighttime tea (Higher Living Organic Sweet Dreams ($5). I hope this will alleviate the anxiety I feel from the espresso martini I treated myself to an hour ago. I don’t normally drink coffee, so I’m thinking the cocktail probably wasn’t the best decision. I do my nighttime self-care ritual, which is similar to my morning one, but I swap out my face wash. At night, I use Origins Modern Friction Cleansing Oil ($29.50) followed by La Roche-Posay Effaclar Gel Facial Wash ($15). I also use the serum The Ordinary Retinol 0.5 In Squalane ($5.80).
Every night before bed, my boyfriend tucks me in because he usually likes to stay up a bit later. I know this sounds cheesy, but I believe this is great for my mental health. It’s the last thing that happens before I go to sleep, which makes me feel cherished, loved, and important.
Daily Total: $241.10
7 a.m. — My period arrived today, so my morning self-care ritual felt extra good. I take a moment to practice gratitude for the fact that my skin isn’t having a hormonal freak out like it normally does during this time.
9 a.m. — I look for the most nourishing items in our work’s pantry, and decide on avocado on toast with baked beans. I chug more water. I usually aim for 3 liters a day while at my desk. This always helps me feel energized, and seems to combat the drying effects of working in an air conditioned environment.
3:30 p.m. — I’m feeling pretty sensitive, achy, and emotional today because of my period. So, I decide to get outside to clear my head and do some exercise for endorphins. You know the Elle Woods catchphrase.
I do a quick 15-minute warm up run to a park under the Sydney Harbour Bridge that over looks the opera house. I then do a 300-rep workout challenge using the Sweat app from Kayla Itsines ($5/week) which takes about 20 minutes. Working out near the water, surrounded by outdoor beauty, feels great. I feel much lighter, both mentally and physically. I finish the session by doing a sprint up some stairs. Then, I walk back to the office.
Walking around the harbour always brightens my mood. When I see all the tourists getting off the cruise ships, it reminds me how lucky I am to live in such a wonderful city.
Daily Total: $5
9 a.m. — I wake up feeling mentally drained. I didn’t sleep well last night, due to the aches in my back. I rush through my morning self-care ritual, which leaves me feeling a little all over the place.
3 p.m. — I’m flying up to the Gold Coast to celebrate my mum’s 60th birthday. The short flight costs about $95. I count this trip as self care, because I believe spending time with loved ones is crucial for my mental health. I do feel a little anxious as I’m waiting for the plane, though. To help with this, I go to the Perfect Potion store to spray myself with my favourite chakra spray and essential oils. The shop assistant is lovely, and she gives me a few testers as well as an herbal tea sample. I don’t really know much about the science behind essential oils, but I’m sensitive to smells, so I always find them to be calming and grounding. After I step out of the airport shop, I feel immediately better.
8 p.m. — I’m feeling tired, but I head to a free, local blues festival with my dad. I haven’t seen him since Christmas, so — even though I feel drained — it’s nice to spend one on one time with him. We live quite far apart, so I cherish the time we get together. We meet some other family members and explore the festival.
I believe that music is soothing for the soul. As I watch international artists, I feel inspired by the beauty and diversity that exists all around. We dance before going home, and I feel lighter for it. Creative expression has and always will be one of my favorite ways to release and feel free.
Daily Total: $95
8 a.m. — I follow my self-care ritual with a cup of tea with my parents. We have some scrambled eggs on rye, which my parents have covered the bill for. I forgot how nice it is to just be around the people you love. It’s security, it’s comfort, it’s home. We decide to go for a family walk. I pull on my sneakers, and we all go for an hour and half stroll along the boardwalk at the beach, followed by a swim in the spa of the resort we’re staying at.
Being near the ocean is one of my favourite things, combine that with family and having ticked some incidental exercise out of the park, and I’m a happy camper!
2 p.m. — Mum’s birthday lunch is at a local surf club. I have two glasses of white wine because, hey, it’s a celebration! I share a seafood platter and pumpkin salad with Mum and Dad.
We’re Polynesian, so my family sings Māori songs, and we do the traditional dances like the Haka as a way of expressing our love for my mum on this special occasion. I can’t help but feel as though the world needs more of this — more love, expression, creativity, and vulnerability. Singing and dancing is a beautiful outlet, and I always feel so blessed and connected to my heritage when we sing our songs. We are in a public environment in another country, yet, here we are proudly singing and continuing our cultural traditions. I think many people feel lonely and disconnected a lot of the time. Slowing down to sing songs together and tell stories of our ancestors always reminds me of where I came from and that we are all connected in some way or another.
9:30 p.m. — Time to unwind. After a long day surrounded by family, it feels nice to take the time to do my night time ritual before being tucked into bed by an angel sent from heaven — AKA my boyfriend.
Daily Total: $0
7:30 a.m. — I wake up feeling groggy — I know I have to fly back to Sydney tonight. I want to make the most of my time with my family. I skip the meditation in my morning routine this morning, so that I can spend more time with everyone. I’m not feeling the effects of my period today, thank goodness.
12 p.m. — After a lazy morning with the family and some hash browns, we all decide to go for a swim in the ocean. I try to fit in my workout by swimming around in the water — one of my favorite ways to get active. I love “incidental exercise.”
4:30 p.m. — Post-swim, we indulged in a cheese platter and wine. My mum, boyfriend, and I decide to rent bikes from the resort and go for a sunset ride ($5). It’s a beautiful day, and the colors in the clouds are incredible to look up at while pedaling along. A wonderful way to end our quick trip.
Daily Total: $5
8:30 a.m. — It’s nice being home. What can I say? I’m a sucker for routine.
It’s a fresh week, so I go for the “healthiest” option in our office pantry, and finally dive into the bran. I add Imbibe Miracle Collagen (my new favorite supplement) to a bottle of my water this morning ($45). I love it because it’s delicious, and makes my water pink! I need to rehydrate after the weekend’s drinking and air travel, so this is a fun way to do just that.
3 p.m. — I’m feeling like a snack. Although I’m tempted by our snack drawer full of candy, I decide on a peppermint tea and some apple slices with peanut butter. Shout out to the office manager who continually restocks the fridge and pantry.
8 p.m. — I get home, and my boyfriend is making me spaghetti Bolognese (he bought the ingredients). We eat it while watching Game Of Thrones. A friend is staying over tonight, so we decide to go all out and order snacks from Max Brenner Chocolate Bar — our friend covers the tab. I’m a self-professed foodie, and I believe that eating a variety of cuisine keeps life interesting and brings me joy. I have a chocolate fondant pudding with vanilla ice cream, and enjoy every bite.
Daily Total: $45
6:30 a.m. — I’ve been a little lax about sticking to my morning meditations lately because things have been so hectic. I find that a little ironic, because I need mindful moments the most when I’m stressed. But I get back to my practice this morning and make a mental note to get back in the habit.
8 p.m. — One of my besties is moving to Berlin soon, so some of our friends have flown in to Sydney for one last blow out all together. Everyone is staying at my place, and there are six of us in total. There’s nothing quite like quality time with your closest girlfriends.
We stay up late talking, catching up, giggling, and feeling sentimental. I’m full of love and appreciation for my pals. I’m so grateful for these friendships, and I feel both lucky and blessed to have such kind, inspiring, and positive women in my life. It’s bittersweet that one of them is leaving the continent and I know I will feel a little empty when everyone goes home. But it’s probably a good reminder that I need to start branching out and forming some new friendships. It’s good for me to get out of my comfort zone.
With a little luck, fast forward to a year from now, and we’ll have some new additions to the sleepover.
Daily Total: $0
Weekly Total: $391.10
Reflection: The best part of my week was spending time with loved ones. However, I know I thrive on routine, especially my morning self-care ritual.
I know sometimes my fitness, meditation, and eating habits can be derailed when my social life or work intensifies. I try to get in three or four workouts a week, but it didn’t happen this time. That said, the lack of working out didn’t impact my happiness levels. If anything, I felt a little guilty for skipping those — but I do like giving myself a break to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, such as food, wine, and good company.
I’m still working on finding the perfect balance, and will probably try to keep this diary going offline to see if I can get better about juggling my social life while maintaining my fitness and health goals. As long as my mental health is doing well, I believe I’m doing okay — that’s what’s most important to me.
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