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: An elementary teacher in New York City gets acquainted with her new neighborhood, meal preps her lunches, and goes for a walk with a friend.
Location: New York, NY
Location: New York, NY
This diary was written in September 2021.
6:45 a.m. — I make a blueberry smoothie every morning before school — it's just yogurt and frozen blueberries, those are the only two ingredients I use, and I have one just about every morning, Monday through Friday. After breakfast, I take the bus to the school where I work (it costs $2.25 and I usually take it to and from school).
12 p.m. — I eat my lunch that I made at home. I meal prep every Sunday and make five lunches for the week, which usually consist of two veggies (my favorites are corn, peas, broccoli, sweet potatoes) and then some kind of rice and tofu.
5:30 p.m. — I ride the bus home, then change and try a yoga class at a new studio tonight. It's a $30 pop-in class. I like the class, but it's a little too fast paced. Slower yoga classes for beginners are usually better for me because I have a high heart rate, so I try to keep my heart rate low, especially during workouts. I think I’ll try again with another instructor. If I end up liking it, I will most likely purchase a membership; I can get a teacher discount of 20% off. $30
Daily Total: $30
7 a.m. — I sleep an extra 10 minutes this morning because I’m exhausted. September is always such a big adjustment for teachers. We have all of July and August off and throw our schedules out the window to just relax and sleep in, and September means schedules, routines, meal prepping, and waking up early again. We also have to help the students get back into routines and schedules. I miss my summer days with no alarm clocks. It feels good to sleep in a few minutes longer, but also makes it more difficult to get up.
5 p.m. — I go for a long walk tonight. I head towards the Apple Store to get a new case ($40) and charger ($20) for the iPhone 13 I ordered. I have the iPhone 7 and I have been waiting for the new one, especially because I love taking pictures and the new one has such a good camera. After, I decide to keep walking. I only recently moved to New York City, so I haven’t explored the area much yet. I get home right before the sun set. I live alone; I had saved up money by living in my hometown before moving to the city, so I’m able to afford it right now. But I’m also making way more as a teacher here than I was before, and with my two years of teaching experience plus my graduate degree, I get paid on the higher end.
10 p.m. — I’m craving gelato. I decide to throw on a hoodie and walk to a trendy spot that recently opened uptown to get a small dish of half Belgian chocolate, half lemon gelato. (Don’t knock it till you try it.) That came out to $8, and I added tip. $9.
Daily Total: $9
7:30 a.m. — I get on a later bus than usual this morning (more sleeping in). The bus is more crowded than the earlier bus is, so I have to stand. There are other teachers on the bus and I can hear them talking about lesson plans and classroom management.
12 p.m. — On my lunch break I decide to stop into the Walgreen’s around the corner from my school. I have needed a new mascara but keep forgetting to grab it after school, so I just go now. I do my makeup every day before work to feel good about myself. I get my two of my favorite mascara — Maybelline Volum’ Express The Colossal — for $8.77 each. $17.54
7 p.m. — I order food from my new favorite takeout Asian restaurant. I got General Tso's tofu and rice, which came out to $14 plus a $2 tip, so $16. I order food for dinner a lot because it's so convenient — probably around four to five times a week. $16
Daily Total: $33.54
6:45 a.m. — I get on an earlier bus than usual this morning because I have to print some things for my lesson today. My calves are burning from walking so quickly. I think about the massage place near my apartment — maybe I’ll try it one of these days. I used to get massages more often in my hometown, but not anymore because I’m trying to save money.
12 p.m. — I sit in the park a block away from my school during lunch. I love sitting in the sun and just relaxing during my lunch breaks — I get to get out of the school building so I don’t get easily pulled back into doing work, and I also get to get some fresh air and take my mask off without worrying about COVID. Sometimes I’ll call my long-distance boyfriend or watch TikToks, and other times I’ll just sit, eat, and enjoy the sunshine.
7 p.m. — I eat Trader Joe's Tomato and Red Pepper soup for dinner. Then I shower and put on my self-tanner, which I can not live without. I’m obsessed with the Bondi Sands tanning mousse, and I buy one bottle maybe every two or three months. It comes out to $16.80 a bottle. It’s pretty cheap for lasting so long.
Daily Total: $0
4 p.m. — I stop at a bagel place on the way home from work. I buy an everything bagel with cream cheese, chips, and a Coke for $8.75. I usually just make a snack myself after work, but once I see the store and smell the bagels, I feel like I need it. Besides, it was a crappy day at work so I want to treat myself. $8.75
8 p.m. — I go to my cousin’s apartment for dinner and drinks. This is a big deal for me since I just moved to the city in August and left my family and boyfriend behind in my hometown. It means so much to have family close by.
11 p.m. — I feel so happy once I leave their apartment — my visit turned this into a nice night, which was much appreciated after a not-so-great day at work. I decide to walk home from my cousin’s instead of calling an Uber or taking a taxi. It’s late, but I felt comfortable in the neighborhood and the walk isn’t that long.
Daily Total: $8.75
11 a.m. — Saturday bliss. I sleep in until 10 a.m. and lay in bed for another hour. I finally get up and throw on some biker shorts and an oversized T-shirt. I walk to a cute nearby cafe — they have amazing toast options. I treated myself to the brie and honey toast and an iced chai latte with oat milk for $11. I love going to brunch on weekends because my mornings during the week are always so rushed that I never get to sit down to eat breakfast. $11
1 p.m. — I meet up with a friend to walk in Central Park. We walk for about an hour. The weather is perfect. I’m trying to get outside as much as possible before it gets too cold here. When I get home, I lay in bed and watch Manifest on Netflix. My boyfriend and I watch it together using an app called Scener. Long distance has been hard, especially after living together for almost two years. I did long distance in college with a previous boyfriend so I’m used to it, but it’s definitely difficult. To bridge the distance, we watch TV shows together almost every night, we FaceTime and talk regularly, and we visit each other at least once a month.
11 p.m. — I go to a birthday party on a rooftop in the Upper West Side. The event was free to get into, but the drinks were about $20 a pop. My go-to drink is a Moscow mule, and this one tasted like straight vodka, which I wasn’t a fan of. I would have gotten two drinks, but it’s so gross that I just stick to one. I almost never drink alcohol — I’m not a big drinker, and if I do imbibe, I usually have one or two drinks max. I actually hate the taste of alcohol! $20
Daily Total: $31
10 a.m. — I force myself to fall back asleep after waking up at 8 a.m. this morning and am able to sleep in until 10. When I wake up again, I lay in bed for a couple of hours watching TikTok.
3 p.m. — I go grocery shopping for my meal prep. This week, I buy frozen peas, corn, broccoli, and a brick of firm tofu for $21. I don’t need to pick up the yogurt and blueberries for my smoothies in this trip, but usually the two yogurts cost $8.60 and the blueberries cost $9; each smoothie comes out to about $1.72 if you're really keeping track! In general, this is a small trip; I usually grocery shop every weekend and spend anywhere from $50 to $80 each time, depending on what I need. $21
7 p.m. — I meal prep my lunches for the week while on FaceTime with my family. Meal prep used to be a pain for me, but now that I have the routine down it’s actually relaxing because I know I’m setting myself up for a successful week.
Daily Total: $21
Weekly Total: $133.29
Reflection: My wellness routine is important to me, but sometimes I can let work or other stressors take over that leads me to forget about it. The biggest stressor I have is probably balancing work and life with my new job. When I was at my old school, I had everything figured out, which left me with plenty of time to relax during the weekday nights. With a new school and new grade level, there’s more planning and prepping outside of school. My social life also basically only exists on weekends because I’m so tired after the school day. This can make my week nights pretty lonely, especially after living with my boyfriend for two years. That’s why the best part of my week this week was making time to try out a new yoga class. I’m slowly finding that balance.