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.
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Today: This Brooklynite’s self-care routine includes a tea habit, group therapy, and long bike rides.
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Content Marketer
This diary was written in September 2020.
7:45 a.m. — I bike 20 minutes to Daytime, a café in Windsor Terrace, to refill my cold brew growler ($16). It’s a great workout (although my legs are killing me from last night’s run), I get a bit of social interaction, and it forces me to leave my house once a week, so it’s a win! I have an annual Citibike membership ($179) so this workout feels free, and a cold brew refill ends up being so much cheaper than getting coffee every day. Plus, I usually treat myself to a cookie, which is definitely a highlight.
5 p.m. — It’s time for another bike ride — except this time I’m heading to get my haircut for the first time since winter, at a salon in the Lower East Side. I’ve been really craving touch and human interaction,, and I was excited to finally get a healthier head of hair. My stylist is incredible and always makes me laugh ($120).
7 p.m. — Wednesday nights I have group therapy. I use Sesh, which is way more accessible than other therapy options, plus I like that each meeting has a different topic or theme. This one is about cultivating strong relationships in your 20s. I get a $60 monthly membership, so each weekly session comes out to only $15.
Daily Total: $151
9:30 a.m. — Before I check my emails and officially start my work day, I take 20 minutes to read or journal. I try to write as much as possible outside of work to stay grounded and warm up my brain for whatever project comes my way.
1 p.m. — I take a break from Zoom calls and Slack messages and do a quick mobility workout on the Nike Training App. I used to pay monthly for this, but since the pandemic, Nike made all of their workouts free. I really like Michelle Lao’s low-impact workouts and Alex Silver-Fagan’s yoga workouts.
6 p.m. — I catch-up with a friend virtually. I try to schedule a few of these throughout the week. I’m incredibly extroverted, and making sure I have Zoom dates planned makes a huge difference for my mental health.
Daily Total: $0
10:30 a.m. — Whenever I have an important meeting, as a part of my prep, I turn to the Calm app for one of its work-related meditations; I got a free year’s subscription through my Amex card. Today my guided meditation was focused on kind communication and thinking through whether something is true, necessary, and kind before saying it — all such important reminders, especially when all of our communication is virtual now.
3 p.m. — I’ve developed a ritual of going to Brooklyn Tea at the end of the week. I love the experience of ordering tea there. They have such unique blends and know so much about tea. Lately, I’ve been really into the chamomile mint, but I try to switch it up, depending on how I feel. Sometimes I indulge in a slice of pie or a pastry too. I have a bit of a sweet tooth ($16.99).
Daily Total: $16.99
12 p.m. — One of my favorite things to do on the weekends is to settle into a book. Right now, I’m reading Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, which was the first Arabic novel to win the International Booker Prize. It was also the first novel by an Omani woman to be translated into English. Since I don’t have access to a library right now I bought this one ($16.95), but I hope the libraries start to reopen soon! I try to read a new book every week, which can add up fast.
4 p.m. — My former roommate and her girlfriend are going on a two-week road trip, so they asked me to watch their cat in New Jersey for two weeks. When I get there, I go for a run to clear my head and get outside. It’s fun to explore a new neighborhood. It was also really humid today, so it was tougher than normal to have proper breath support. This ultimately led to a shorter run than planned — but 3 miles is better than nothing. I was frustrated by my mileage, but I’m still glad I did it.
Daily Total: $16.95
9 a.m. — I slept in (yes, 9 a.m. is sleeping in for me!) and decided to take my bike out for a 7.5-mile ride to Liberty State Park. The view was beautiful, but Google Maps had a hard time figuring out where I was, which was frustrating. I ultimately don’t think I’d do this ride again, but it was a great way to spend a Sunday morning.
5 p.m. — For dinner, I picked a recipe from Nisha Vora, a blogger I follow on Instagram. In quarantine, cooking every meal can get old fast, so I try to switch it up as often as I can. Today, I made a simple spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce, fresh basil from the garden, and blistered tomatoes. I had enough for leftovers too, which is always a perk! The friends I’m cat-sitting for are covering my groceries while I’m here, so this meal is free.
9 p.m. — I steeped some chamomile tea to start winding down for bed. My sleep schedule on the weekends is a little different than it is during the workweek, so I try to make sure to practice good sleep hygiene on Sunday nights. I also appreciate the ritual of enjoying a cup of tea and try to notice the smell — floral, comforting, sweet — and the taste — warm, herbaceous — and how I feel, from when I make the tea to when I’m ready to sleep.
Daily Total: $0
6 p.m. — I went for a long walk after work. I’m trying to treat this time in Jersey as a vacation, so I’ve researched the dessert shops and takeout I want to try (I checked out Meggie’s ice cream tonight) and made sure to stop by the Weehawken Dueling Grounds near Hamilton Park, where Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr fought their famous duel ($6).
8 p.m. — When I got home, I listened to a couple episodes of the podcast Routines and Ruts, which my friend Richelle recommended during our last FaceTime date. I try to avoid screens after work since so much of our life is digital these days, and this podcast always inspires me to test new creative strategies, try new habits, and rethink productivity and goal-setting.
Daily Total: $6
8 a.m. — My alma mater does an annual road race, which they made virtual this year, so I’m training to run a 10k. I’ve been working to hit this goal for a while, so I get more and more excited when I make progress. I use the 10k Runner app and love the voice coaching prompts — they really keep me motivated. I pay $7.99 for the app subscription every three months (which comes to less than a dollar a week). I enjoy it so much more than other apps I’ve tried, so I find it pays for itself, especially now that I’m not going to studio classes anymore.
7 p.m. — My partner and I have been watching episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Netflix every week. It has a ridiculous premise, but basically it makes fun of B movies, with each episode featuring one terrible movie, ranging from action movies, dramas, and comedies to westerns and camp classics. It’s so far from serious, and I think sharing a few laughs together even while apart has made the distance due to COVID a lot easier. We use the Netflix Party Chrome extension so we can watch at the same time and then we call each other using Skype so we can talk during the movie too. Pro tip: Don’t forget headphones, or the echo is unbearable.
Daily Total: $0.60
Weekly Total: $191.54
Reflection: Wellness has always been a high priority for me, but I think that’s been even more true over the past six months. I try to find multiple moments throughout the day to take care of myself, and that includes my overall health, body, and energy. If I don’t prioritize wellness, I’m not able to fully show up for my work, my creative projects, and my friends and family.
Correction: This story originally said the diarist’s salary was $76k. It was $78k. We regret the error.
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