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.
Today: a student spends time this week working at her internship, doing a face mask, and getting back into her hobby of ice skating.
Location: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Full-time student & intern
Location: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Full-time student & intern
Editor's note: This diary was written in March 2022.
8 a.m. — I start off my week by making a plan of what I want to accomplish over the next seven days. I'll add my important, time-bound tasks to my calendar and write smaller tasks on a checklist I can accomplish at my convenience. This week's planning is especially important because I start my final quarter at university tomorrow and need to ensure I am prepared to succeed. I consider this wellness because it makes me feel more prepared to take on the week and confident I will accomplish all of the tasks I need to without feeling overwhelmed.
2 p.m. — I am a hybrid student and intern, so I spend a lot of time at home. It is important that I refresh my apartment weekly because a messy space makes me feel stressed out and less productive. Doing a deep clean of my space each week is relaxing and helps me to be ready to take on the week.
3 p.m. — My day-to-day tasks at work include media and social monitoring, industry trend reporting, pitching, and shipping mailers. My school requires students to have at least one internship before graduating. I had already completed three before my current internship, so I chose to undertake this full-time internship because it aligned with what I wanted to pursue post-grad. I am lucky enough to have a paid full-time internship. The pay is hourly and above the minimum wage in my city, which evens out to about $35,000 a year adjusted for my 40-hour work week.
9 p.m. — Time to stretch. I try to stretch daily because I am frequently hunched over a computer. It also helps me retain flexibility which is necessary for figure skating, a childhood hobby I recently took up again. It’s hard to pull off any of the moves with a tight, inflexible body. Lack of flexibility also makes you more injury-prone in the sport. Today, I follow one of my favorite videos by MadFit, "12 Min Daily Stretch (full body) - for tight muscles, mobility & flexibility" on YouTube. Stretching makes my body feel less tight and relaxed just in time for bed.
Daily Total: $0
7:30 a.m. — My skin-care routine is relatively simple — at least compared to my previous routine. I used to have a multi-step routine that took ages (the YouTube beauty gurus really got to me). Now, I use less than five products. My only real goal is moisture and unclogged pores. My skin is looking extra dry this morning and I have a ton of Zoom meetings scheduled, so I apply the TonyMoly avocado sheet mask I bought last week at Ulta for about 15 minutes. I’ll often splurge with my bi-weekly paychecks and buy a few sheet masks to use over the next couple of weeks. Even if they don’t do much, I think sheet masks are good for the soul. I feel great after and more confident, especially when I see my skin glowing in the Zoom self-view.
5:30 p.m. — I meet with a close friend for dinner at our favorite meatless spot in the city. This feels particularly special because we are able to dine inside our favorite restaurant for the first time since the pandemic began. Being able to catch up and give each other advice on troubling situations we’re currently going through helps me to feel supported and loved. I have this incredible dish that’s mac and cheese, chili, and nachos combined into one unexpectedly delicious meal. We share a side of fries and a fried pie as a dessert and split the bill. I leave feeling happy and fulfilled. $30
9:30 p.m. — As a full-time student and full-time intern, I don't often have a ton of time left over for casual reading. Recently, I've started to listen to audiobooks, so I can still listen to a new book despite my busy schedule. Although I prefer physical books, I found this to be a nice fulfilling compromise until my schedule is less packed. Tonight, I start listening to "Severance" by Ling Ma using my free three-month trial with Audible. It has been on my to read list for a while, so I was excited to finally start listening.
Daily Total: $30
8:30 a.m. — I wake up with a bit of a tummyache. I suffer from gastrointestinal issues that often cause me to have stomachaches for hours to days on end. Although I tend to not have an appetite when a stomachache strikes, I know it is important to make sure I am getting proper nutrition. I listen to my body and know that I shouldn't try to force a full breakfast down. Instead, I make a smoothie with strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peanut butter, cinnamon, chia seeds, and a dash of honey to sip throughout my morning. It isn’t too hard on my stomach and it gives me the energy to make it through my long day of work and school assignments.
I never get too fancy with my groceries. I keep it to staples because I need to make sure I have quick, healthy bites to eat (eggs, fruit, veggies, rice, cheese, oatmeal, etc.) because if it's too time consuming, I simply will not make food for myself. I spend about $75-$100 on groceries every other week.
4:30 p.m. — I have been trying to listen to my body when it asks to rest, but I tend to have a really hard time with this. After a few hours of dealing with stomach pain and an extended work day, I know I’m no longer going to be up to meet a friend for dinner. Rather than feeling guilty and pushing through at my detriment, I reach out to my friend to explain the situation and we reschedule for another day. I feel like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders because I knew I could simply rest after work.
6 p.m. — I usually don’t have extended work days, but every once in a while I need to clock a few extra hours to get additional work done. This will happen when we have a big campaign coming up or if I have a heavy meeting day. Today I’m able to log off by 6.
8:30 p.m. — I decide to treat myself and spend a little extra time on my haircare. After washing my hair, I use my Olaplex conditioner as a deep conditioning treatment and leave it in my hair for 30 minutes under a shower cap. I use the Olaplex No 5 conditioner and I swear by it — my hair has never felt better. With my kinky hair, I only use it once a week during my detangle wash days and buy it around every month and a half. I feel pampered by taking an extra step I normally don't take in my routine. Once I wash it out, my hair is incredibly soft and I’m relaxed and ready to turn in for the night.
Daily Total: $0
8 a.m. — I prefer to exercise first thing in the morning when I can. It truly does help me feel happier throughout the day. I also know if I don't do it in the morning, I probably won't do it at all. This morning, I wake up and lace up my sneakers to go on a jog. Halfway through the jog, I realize I’m not really feeling it and don’t want to force myself through it. Exercise should be fun, not torture. Instead, I pivot and take a nice stroll through my neighborhood looking at all the pretty architecture.
5:45 p.m. — After struggling with a stomachache yesterday and eating very lightly, I’m pretty hungry for a substantial dinner today. Unfortunately, I need to focus on a ton of assignments so I don’t really have any time to cook a large meal. Luckily, I recently received a new Freshly order a few days ago, so I warm one up. I eat the steak peppercorn meal, which is exactly the kind of tasty, filling meal I’m craving. I feel good eating it because although it is quick to heat, it is fresh, tasty, and filling which allows me to focus my energy on studying. I was introduced to Freshly through work. After the first time I tried it, I realized how convenient it was for me because I’m a busy individual. I will only get it delivered when I can squeeze it into my budget for the week. Freshly costs $9.50 per meal, and I ordered four meals this week. $38
11:30 p.m. — Even though this is the first week of the new quarter, I have a ton of assignments due soon. I know I’ll be up for quite a while longer, so I put on a face mask as I work. The mask I use is the charcoal mask from Chicago-based skincare company, Scratch Goods. It was gifted to me and has become one of my favorites. I mixed the dry charcoal mask powder with water and let it sit for about 15 minutes before washing it off. I take this proactive measure to make sure my skin won’t feel like I pulled an all-nighter in the morning.
Daily Total: $38
8 a.m. – Over the past few months, I've been getting back into my childhood sport of figure skating, and I've also been trying to set up a regimen of off-ice conditioning. This morning, I wake up and decide to do 45 minutes of conditioning focusing on the moves that I've been trying to improve on. I feel accomplished that I am actively working on improving my figure skating even though I’m not on the ice.
12 p.m. — Right before my lunch break, I have an idea of a new recipe I want to test out. I have some leftover mashed sweet potato that needs to be used, but I hate leftovers unless I can turn them into something completely new. I realize I could make savory sweet potato muffins using the ingredients I have in my kitchen.I prep, mix, and bake the muffins — they are delicious. As someone who has more of a talent for cooking than baking, I feel accomplished being able to successfully freestyle on a baked good.
7:30 p.m. — I’m not someone who journals on a specific schedule. I only spend time journaling when the time feels right or I have an important reflection to document. I feel the urge to journal and I reflect on some lingering thoughts I have been having on friendships. As always, it feels good to get my feelings out on paper as I have an easier time processing my emotions that way.
Daily Total: $0
12 p.m. — One of my close friends and I have become wellness accountability partners for each other. We will often send each other wellness-focused questions that remind us to take a bit of time to take care of ourselves. Today, she sends me the question, "Have you stretched today?" and attaches Mady Morrison's "5 min. Morning Stretch" YouTube video. It’s perfect timing because I had forgotten to stretch earlier this morning before starting work. I take the five minutes to stretch and feel my muscles loosen a bit.
5:30 p.m. — I have an event planned with a friend and do not have a ton of time after work to make a meal before I need to leave the house. I decide to eat another one of my Freshly meals so I can spend my time getting ready for the event — this time it’s the K-Town Pork & Purple Sticky Rice. I’m happy that I don’t have to choose between sacrificing my beauty time and eating a healthy, fresh meal for dinner.
7:30 p.m. — I am subscribed to The Nudge for Chicago. Every once in a while they’ll share an event that’s free to subscribers. I was able to grab tickets for an art show by synesthetic artist Jess Brooks (@jess.well.ness on Instagram). The show features her synesthetic interpretations of various songs. It’s great to chat about art with my friend and meet new people while we’re there. I enjoy my time at the event — I even find out about a new cool art collective in the city. It is the perfect way to begin to unwind from my busy work and school week.
Daily Total: $0
8:30 a.m. — I allow myself to fall back asleep after I initially wake up at about 6 a.m. When I finally wake up again, I’m in no rush to get out of bed and spend my first hour awake watching Mr. Kate renovate their new Hawaiian dream home on YouTube. This is the perfect way to set my intention for the day, which is to move at my own pace and only do the things I want to do.
3:30 p.m. – I head to one of my favorite indoor ice rinks for their public ice time and practice skating. Since all of the outdoor rinks are closed, it has been hard finding a convenient time to trek to one of the indoor ice rinks. It feels great to make time for it today, especially because I didn’t get here last week. Although I haven't been in a while, I have not lost any of my progress which is reaffirming.
6 p.m. — I pick up some muslin ($5 for two yards) with the intention of creating a dress pattern for my graduation dress. I have a very particular idea of the graduation dress I want to wear. I know I won’t be able to find it in stores, so I decided I'd make it myself.
I enjoy designing clothing and find it to be one of my favorite ways to express my creativity. I always tell people I started making my own clothes because I can never find what I want in the stores. I don’t shop for clothing much, even though I love fashion, because the options I can afford are quite dismal. I love glitz and glamor — something eye-catching and incredibly extra. My clothes are a representation of my personality and many department stores can’t accommodate that (I do get pretty lucky at thrift stores). I’ve always designed clothing in sketchbooks. I was taught to sew by a childhood friend’s mom and had a few sewing classes in high school. However, I didn’t start seriously making clothing until 2020 when I finally had time to immerse myself in the hobbies I wanted to pursue.
Right now, because making clothing can be an expensive hobby, I only make clothing when I have a big event coming up that requires a look or I come across a cheap fabric that inspires me. I’ll make something every one to two months. After my graduation dress, the next item I want to make is a two-piece set for an upcoming music festival. I don’t sell any of the items I make because I don’t want to lose the fun of the hobby. I’m still in the learning and experimenting stage, so I find it best to just make clothes that make me happy. $5
8 p.m. — I spend the rest of my night successfully creating the pattern while watching an older season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. After not having much time for creativity this week, I’m filled with joy and relaxation during the process.
Daily Total: $5
Weekly Total: $73
Reflection: Small habits, like stretching or my skincare routine, make me feel good and allow me to take care of myself. The best part of my week is a tie between the day I spent alone doing all of the activities I enjoy, taking the day at my own pace, and the days I spent in the community of my supportive and loving friends.