Hi, our names are Sarah and Rebecca, and we’re workaholics. Between school, work, and having a social life (or something to that effect), we know as well as anybody how impossible it can be at times to find time to relax.
When we set out to write a post on self-care during COVID, we realized how hypocritical it would be to just list a bunch of tips that we’ve never actually done ourselves. So, instead, we decided to try ten common self-care activities and give the real rundown on how well – or if – they actually worked for us.
For the purposes of this experiment, we will separately rate each self-care tip out of 5 stars: 2 for viability (convenience, time, etc.), 2 for Refresh Factor, and 1 star for other benefits/overall quality of life improvement. Our scores will then be combined for the overall rating out of 10.
– Spa day
-Painted my nails in a yin yang to remind me that life is about balance. There is always good in the bad, and bad in the good.
-used a jasmine and lavender smelling candle during a very hot shower . -did a hydro moisturizing mask
-Finally took the time after a long, stressful, and emotional week. Felt that it was a “Restart” and I felt more confident after. Something so small as to painting my nails really made me feel a lot better and i felt that i could focus on just one thing rather than a million things
- After working a long day at a hospital and walking home in the rain, I was cold, wet, and sweaty all at once, so having a long shower while burning a scented candle was kind of a religious experience.
- I have a really hard time finding time for self care – before this, I’d never used the scented candle or even opened the charcoal face mask – but this fit well into my crazy schedule. It also made me feel genuinely refreshed and cared-for. The candle (“linen & liquor” scent) was a gift from a close friend, which made it especially nice.
- Added benefit: I saw some friends afterward who couldn’t get over my amazing “perfume” 🙂
Overall score: 10 stars
– Take a power nap (~20 min)
-Took a short 20 min nap after walking roundtrip an hour to staples and back. It was raining and when I heard the “ping” of my alarm I literally woke up soooo angry. Nothing worse than the apple iphone alarm sound jerking you out of a sleep… I thought this nap would be refreshing, but….it just made me moody and even more tired.
- I forgot to set my alarm, so instead of sleeping for 20 minutes, I passed out for almost two hours… whoops. I did feel really relaxed and refreshed when I woke up, but sleeping for 2 hours in the middle of the day isn’t normally viable for me (nor is it technically true to the prompt!), so that knocked off a star.
Overall score: 6.5 stars
– Socialize with friends (however you can)
I went to an outdoor flea market with some friends and we got enchiladas afterwards from this delicious food truck outside of the market. I bought a new ring and it was all an all a fun experience. Guess I still have some social skills even though being in quarantine for so long?
- Got together with a close friend for a very belated birthday dinner at our favorite restaurant (Peacefood at 11th & Union Sq), which has outdoor seating. It was so nice to see her in person after seven months on zoom!
- This was top-tier self-care for me, partly because while I was out with her, I wasn’t checking my email or worrying about work. It was viable, it was refreshing, AND our waiter treated us to mint hot cocoas after our meal – easily a 5-star evening.
Overall score: 10 stars
- I turned on a 30-min cardio pilates/yoga workout on YouTube. Over quarantine I really enjoyed and looked forward to exercising because it gave my day some structure. However, being in NYC now, and having to exercise in my small apartment bedroom made it less than ideal especially since I feel uncomfortable going to gyms still. However, I still felt good when I finished (even though it was terrible in the moment!). I try to do a Daily Walk everyday and I absolutely love my walks. For me having a daily walk really gives me time to wind down, have time for just myself, and enjoy my Greenpoint neighborhood. Exercise does not have to be so intensive all the time–i have to remember that it just means some sort of physical activity!
- I did a 30-min youtube cardio workout with my roommate, and my overall feedback is that exercise is hard!!! Boo, hiss 😦
- In all seriousness, I procrastinated on this for so long – which I think makes it a bit less viable for me. I also didn’t feel especially refreshed or cared-for afterward. That said, there was a definite sense of accomplishment, and I slept really well that night. So… a solid three stars!
Overall score: 7.5 stars
– Sleep for 8 hours on a school night
- If I could give this a 100/5 I really would. As a graduate student I am lucky to get 6 hours of sleep. Eight hours felt like an eternity. I made sure to do this self care exercise after one of the hardest assignments I had. I specifically told myself I will not be doing anything that night and instead watched a movie and slept a glorious 8 hours. I did feel guilty in the morning, in such a way I almost felt lazy? What a world we live in where taking care of your basic needs is deemed lazy…. I feel like I will try to implement this in my life at least once a week. It’s ok to prioritize yourself.
- I basically never sleep for 8 hours on a school night so this was an experience! Even though I felt pretty exhausted the next day (I think my body was like, obviously something is WRONG if she’s SLEEPING), it felt really nice to take care of myself in a basic but important way that I rarely do. I’m giving it full points except one star, for not always being viable.
Overall score: 9 stars
– Drink 8 cups of water
- I know I should give this one 5-stars, but for some reason, I really don’t enjoy drinking “plain” water haha. I usually hydrate myself with something that has a flavor but also I never drink enough water to begin with. Does coffee count…its…bean water? Anyways, I felt that I was more energetic and less lethargic at the end of the day. I bought a new water bottle, I hope that it will encourage me to keep this up!
- Wow, finally — a self-care tip that makes NO difference in my overall energy/wellbeing and ALSO requires bi-hourly trips to the bathroom. Truly a unique experience.
Overall score: 4 stars
– Mindful eating
- I love to practice Mindful Eating. I think it is such a good way to ground you when you are feeling especially anxious. Most of the time we eat super fast and really ge to ennnjjoooyyy all the flavors. I love chipotle, and I got my usual bowl but when i really slowed down and felt every bite, I especially enjoyed my meal. I did not watch TV or play a youtube video during eating either. I just got to enjoy my meal
- As revenge for yesterday’s self-care tip, I mindfully did not drink a single drop of water… take THAT, digestive system.
- In all seriousness, I did not expect to like this activity as much as I did. I got myself a big fancy latte with whipped cream and focused on enjoying every bit of it. It was cool how just the difference in awareness made food feel like a deliberate act of self-care rather than a robotic chore. I also found myself eating healthier because I was thinking more about what I was putting in my mouth. I hope to do more of this in the future!
Overall score: 10 stars
Sarah: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
I used to be so into yoga especially during the early quarantine days and before. But since starting my PhD my yoga practice was the first thing that left my life. Rebecca and I did yoga together after a very stressful conversation I had with my family. It was just a 20 minute Yoga with Adrian video on youtube and I just felt so much better after. I was able to simply just focus on my body movements…I felt that I could be in the moment.
- Two of my most hated things are (a) movement, and (b) non-movement. So I kind of assumed that yoga – which involves both exercise and stillness – would be the worst of all possible worlds for me. And I will admit, I spent a good third of the time falling over and another third trying not to fall over, but the rest of the time was actually quite relaxing. I’m not a particularly mystical *spooky ghost noises* kind of person, but it was nice to spend twenty minutes with a friend focusing on my breathing and getting in touch with my inner experience.
Overall score: 8.5 stars
- Go for a walk/to a park
It was a BEAUTIFUL day today. Perfect fall weather—it was 60 degrees and sunny. I walked to McCarren Park where there were so many cute dogs and stopped to get a bagel on the way. I felt so relaxed and it was nice to sit in the sun a little. I had a wonderful time and I really enjoyed just getting away from everything. I would give this a 6/5 stars!
- I don’t know, I just don’t like taking walks to nowhere! Residential Brooklyn is not the most relaxing of places, and wandering with no endpoint in mind just makes me anxious. I need to be walking toward something, okay??
- On the plus side, It was nice to get outside and breathe in some fresh air, especially around sunset. Also I met an extremely cute pomeranian, who is personally responsible for at least 2 of those 2 stars.
Overall score: 7 stars
– Tech detox + do a hobby that you like
- Um I hated this so much. LIKEEE….I had to be alone with my thoughts for once! I love Tik Tok and I am not ashamed to say that. I spend hours and hours mindlessly scrolling. It was difficult for me to simply turn my phone off and put it away. It actually made me even more anxious! Technology is such a huge part of our lives that its essentially ingrained in our day to day lives. I ended up journaling because I did not know what else to do with my pent up anxiety. Maybe if I continued this long term this would be beneficial, but for just a one time session it was extremely anxiety inducing.
- I spent a long time procrastinating on this one, but once I got started – man it was great. I love writing fiction and haven’t had the chance to do any since starting school. It took me a while to put my phone away, but I think using pen and paper actually helped get into the writing groove after a 2.5 year hiatus. This activity probably took me more time than any of the others, but it came with such a great emotional payoff – I’m definitely going to have to do this more often.
Overall score: 5 stars
All said and done, it seemed that, for us, spa day, socializing with friends, and mindfully eating were the most successful tips, while drinking water made the least impact. Going for a walk and taking a tech detox were different for each of us based on our personalities and circumstances.
What are your favorite self-care activities? Feel free to try the tips above, or drop your own ideas in our Suggestion Box. Whatever you do, do something to care for yourself this holiday season. Remember, it’s not how you self-care but that you self-care that makes the difference.
— Sarah & Rebecca