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Today: A manager of a theater company whose self-care routine is built on writing, Dungeons and Dragons, and many, many cups of tea.
Editor's Note: All financial information in this diary has been converted from Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars.
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Occupation: Theater Manager
7:30 a.m. — Since I wake up at 6 a.m. every weekday, I have become one of those annoying people who thinks that 7:30 a.m. is a luxurious sleep-in. I tend to be in bed by 10:30 p.m. at the latest, even on weekends. Today, I stay in bed for a while to cuddle with my cat before getting up and making some tea ($2.75 for the box) for the day.
I like to spend these weekend mornings without a lot on the agenda. But being productive, even a little bit, makes me feel good. I put on a podcast and slowly tidy up the apartment, get laundry going, and sip my tea. My life has just gone through a big change: My partner of four years ended our relationship and moved out. My place feels pretty empty, as I have not yet been able to replace everything. I try to let whatever feeling is happening take over in that moment, which has left me mostly feeling okay and occasionally overwhelmed with waves of sadness. Only once do I have to stop what I'm doing and cry.
2 p.m. — I decide to see a play. Because of my early to bed, early to rise lifestyle, I have become a person who loves matinees. (Yes, I am basically a senior citizen, but hey, they live a pretty decent life.) I go see a play called “Jesus Freak” at a theater where I used to work. I run into a couple of friends in the lobby, including one who moved away a few years ago and happened to be back in town, which was a wonderful surprise. After the play, we linger in the lobby to catch up and unpack the show — one of my favorite things to do.
It was free because I am a lucky bastard who works in theater and thus gets free tickets to most companies' shows.
6 p.m. — My parents live about an hour away and they wanted to come out for a visit, so we go for dinner at one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, the Black Lodge. It's themed after the TV show Twin Peaks, which means the decor has a super cozy Pacific Northwest vibe. Plus, the menu is all vegetarian comfort food and they have sweet cocktails. I get the poutine and a strong cocktail called the Bookhouse Boulevardier.
After dinner we go back to my place to hang out a bit. Once they leave I indulge in my current comfort-Netflix show: Friends. I don't know about you, but I have found after break-ups or other grief-inducing life events, I attach myself onto some familiar, but not too complicated, show.
Dinner was free because my parents paid, but it would have been about $30.
Daily Total: $2.75
7:30 a.m. — I wake up at my luxurious 7:30 a.m. again and brew a cup of tea before rolling out my yoga mat. I used to be a certified yoga teacher, and while the certification has undoubtedly expired, I do enjoy taking care of myself in this way now. I don't have a plan, I just start with some sun salutations and then spend about 45 minutes doing whatever feels right. Sometimes I push myself to stretch farther or hold a pose for longer, but this time it's a very indulgent yoga practice. I’m just glad to be in my body and moving, stopping to sip my tea from time to time.
It feels really good to move in this way. I don't do it as often as I would like to or as I know I need. I promise myself I will do it more often.
11 a.m. — A friend of mine hosted a brunch as a thank you to the contributors of his online magazine, where I occasionally write about dance. I hop on a bus ($1.59) to get to his place. He and his partner made delicious Belgian waffles and a fancy squash-egg dish. Oh, and mimosas that just kept coming. One of the top ways I feel good is by connecting and spending time with people, so it was wonderful to get together, hang out, and eat so much delicious food — even if I was a little late thanks to my bike being in the shop.
3 p.m. — Time to host my Dungeons and Dragons group! Sure, it’s dorky, but it’s so much fun. We have been getting together more or less every Sunday afternoon to play together for over a year, and this group has been a wonderful source of fun and warmth in my life over that time. I purchased tortilla chips ($3.10), hummus ($2.75) and popcorn ($1.73) for the occasion. It was a particularly eventful session where we avoided two battles thanks to incredible wits, saving our strength for the "big bad" at the end of our current adventure. We bested them and had a great time doing it. I felt pretty rejuvenated after they left — an afternoon with caring and imaginative friends will do that for you. I also love hosting and it felt particularly great to fill my newly-emptied home with a little extra friendship.
Daily Total: $9.17
6 a.m. — Every weekday morning at 6 a.m. I get up and do an hour of writing. Mostly it's for my blog, or occasionally other publications I contribute to. It's one of my favorite times of the day. Starting the day with writing makes it easier to get up, and it makes me feel grounded. Of course, I always have a cup of tea while I write.
9:30 a.m. — Counseling is probably the best thing I do to try to feel good. I don't go regularly, because my benefits only cover registered psychologists, not counselors, but I made the appointment as soon as my relationship ended ($92.91). I knew it would help to have a safe space to talk about everything I was going through, and I was right. She validated my feelings and helped me process them. Today's session was incredibly useful.
11 a.m. — I bought a Verilux happy light a few years ago ($76.02) to help with my seasonal depression. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and the grey days really take a toll on me. Every cloudy day I turn on the happy light and it makes a huge difference.
Daily Total: $168.93
6 a.m. — Another morning writing session. This time I made Tetley green tea instead of my usual black tea. I am so relieved that the break up didn't take away my ability to do these little daily routines. In the past I have had trouble being alone with myself after a break up, and getting up early for writing time would have been too hard. For whatever reason, this time, I've been able to keep this routine and that's really made a difference.
1 p.m. – It's finally sunny out! I take advantage by taking a long afternoon stroll at work, wandering in and out of the neighborhood thrift stores. I am perhaps a little too dependent on sunlight for my happiness, especially right now. But on every sunny day I try to get out there. I also love thrift shopping, and since there are a couple of shops right by my work, I like to wander through a few times a week so I don't miss something really good popping up. This way I actually take a lunch break (something I should theoretically do every day) and I get outside!
5:30 p.m. — Tonight is a veg-out kind of night. I order some pizza on my way home ($10.33), curl up with my blanket and cat, and watch some more Friends. I need to give my heart a little space for healing. I am generally a pretty busy, active person, so a whole evening of downtime often leaves me feeling antsy. I know I really needed it (like tonight) so I just sink right into it for the rest of the night.
Daily Total: $10.33
5 p.m. — After my usual morning writing time, many cups of tea, and a full day at work, I sneak out a bit early to go to a dance show. I got free tickets through a friend to a show called Gathering Light by local Indigenous dance company. It was amazing! I convinced a good friend to also leave her work a little early and join me. She hasn't seen as much contemporary dance, so I was a little worried she might find it too weird, but she enjoyed it too.
6:30 p.m. — After the dance show we strolled over to a nearby warehouse sale for Mia Melon, a company that makes raincoats that look like they belong in the city instead of the side of a cliff. In the Pacific Northwest, a good raincoat is essential, and my current one is starting to tip from looking "well-used" into just plain ratty. Unfortunately, I just didn't fall in love with any of the coats so I didn't buy anything. I was still really glad we went because otherwise the possibility of a really good, super-discounted raincoat would have just haunted me.
9 p.m. — I finally started my gratitude journal again. I used to do it all the time and then I kind of stopped. I have a harder time keeping up with evening rituals like that when I’m in a relationship. With another person around before bed, I feel weird just sitting and writing while they are right there. I have been meaning to start it back up for a while, and now I finally did. I found an old notebook I had purchased a while ago (because you always buy new, cute notebooks when you find them on sale for $3.47) and wrote down the things I was grateful for from that day. It worked its magic. Going to bed alone is (to say the least) a downer after four years of going to bed with someone else. Spending a few moments right then to remember what's good in life doesn't make all the bad feelings disappear, but it reminds me that there is more than just the sadness.
Daily Total: $3.47
8 a.m. — Thursdays are my work from home day. Today, I'm a bit worried that it's not going to go well. When I'm at work, I feel some benefit of being out and around my coworkers. While the office can be a distracting place, it's also good for keeping me on task. Being all alone in my home all day with all these wallow-y emotions? Who knows. But it actually turns out okay. The middle of the day becomes a bit of a struggle, so I take a break to cook a comfort food lunch (grilled cheese sandwich) and watch a few Samantha Bee clips, which refreshes me enough to jump back in.
5:30 p.m. — I meet up with a friend I haven't seen for a while for after-work donuts and tea from one of the local "artisanal" donut shops ($6.48). I got a classic vanilla glazed donut and a cup of herbal tea (I am trying to cut caffeine later in the day) and we got to catch up about our lives. It was wonderful to spend some one-on-one time with a pal I haven't seen for a while.
7 p.m. — I am a church-going person, and one of the perks of that is regular community with people who care about your life. Every Thursday night, I have what's called a Neighborhood Group, where we get together in smaller groups in someone's home. We do a variety of things, often just hanging out, talking about our lives and things that are hard (or good), occasionally doing work to serve the community in some way. This week the plan was just to hang out and have some snacks, just what I wanted. I was done at the donut shop a bit early, and the host said I could come over whenever, so I rolled in a bit early and helped set up. I left at the end of the evening feeling that relaxed glow I get from good times with friends. As an extrovert, this is not insignificant!
Daily Total: $6.48
8 a.m. — My commute is one hour whether I ride transit or ride my bike, so I almost exclusively ride my bike to work. That means I get about two hours of exercise every day, and it's worked into something I already need to be doing! Sure, I have less time to read, which is what I would be doing if I rode transit, but that also means I have less time to stare at my phone. Plus, now that it's getting brighter and warmer out, the commute has turned truly lovely. Bring on the endorphins!
7 p.m. – I tried to wash my old foam memory pillow and it just... never dried. After a week of hanging it up with heaters and fans, trying to squeeze it out, and otherwise wishing it would dry out, I figured that the center was getting a little moldy and maybe wasn't the ideal thing to sleep on. So, new pillow for me! I got a shredded memory foam bamboo pillow from Bed Bath & Beyond and it is glorious ($35.85). The one problem: It's huge; it turns out pillows have sizes. I can only use my old jersey fabric pillowcases right now because the other ones are too small.
8 p.m. — I recently self-published a book, and I was able to get it stocked in a Canadian book store chain. Today I was able to go and FIND MY BOOK THAT I WROTE IN STORES!!! It was WILD and probably one of the most exciting things I have ever done! Ironically, the book is all about how to learn to work through self-loathing and like yourself.
Daily Total: $35.85
Weekly Total: $236.98
Reflection: Morning writing time, tea, biking to work, and going to bed early are foundations to my wellness routine and to my life. Without those, I become a bit of an empty shell. The most positive thing I do for my wellness is be intentional about spending time with friends. The other stuff is hugely important too, but I am very extroverted and get wrapped up in my head easily. Quality time with friends is key to feeling good about myself and my place in the world.