What constitutes “self-care?” Despite various definitions circulating on social media, “self-care” is really something that’s deeply personal, varying greatly from person to person. For some, it involves taking the time to reflect, meditate, or work on self-growth; for others, it means trying out the latest workout trend or splurging on a high-tech skin-care tool. To explore what self-care looks like for real people, we partnered with Shane Co., purveyors of fine jewelry you can treat yourself with, to follow one writer as they chronicle their routine for a week. From spending time on a calming hobby to investing in an elegant new piece of jewelry, keep reading to learn what helps her reset amid her busy schedule.
8:40 a.m. — I am awoken at the obscene hour of “before 9 a.m.” because everyone at the friend-of-a-friend’s house where I’m spending the weekend is rising and shining. We spent the last two days in nature, making salads, ratatouille, and other produce-forward meals from the fresh kale, tomatoes, and veggies in their backyard garden. It’s a bit like pastoral house cosplay — imagining what it’d be like to live off the land, wake up with the birds in the morning, and fall asleep to the crickets at night. Small doses of living in idyllic simplicity are a refreshing mind rinse every once in a while. The only thing that would make it perfect for me would be proximity to a beach.
3 p.m. — After a two-hour drive back, I’m home! I shower, unpack, and my brain prematurely latches onto that same old rat-brain cycle where it feels like I should always be doing something — but it’s still Sunday, so I make plans to see a movie with my boyfriend that night.
7 p.m. — We get Vietnamese food before hitting the theater. There truly is no greater snack than a summer roll in the summer. It is the perfect food.
10 a.m. — It’s a long weekend, so it’s one of those Mondays dressed up in Sunday’s clothing. I work for myself, and I’m either the best or the worst boss, depending on what temptations loom. I take some time to touch all the things I’m meant to be covering this week work-wise, just to slowly introduce my brain back to the idea of routine. I have a no-working-on-weekends rule, which I stick to quite strictly — sometimes so strictly, it even bleeds into weekdays.
12 p.m. — I walk to one of my favorite neighborhood cafes for a $7 coffee and a pastry. All coffee is $7 suddenly, but the first sip always reminds me why I choose to pay it. I also must have some sort of confectionary treat daily — one to motivate me, and one to reward me. It’s how I bookend my days, and truly the only reason I get anything done of my own volition.
7 p.m. — I’m hit with the Monday Scaries — which are like the Sunday Scaries, but with extra potency from a three-day weekend — so I call my brother and make plans to see the scary movie we’ve both been wanting to see tonight. Two movie theater nights in a row feels indulgent but, honestly, it’s the best indoor summer activity. And if I’m going to have anxiety anyway, I may as well divert the source.
12 a.m. — I am never going to fall asleep. Why did I watch a scary movie before I have to go to bed? (This will happen again.)
11 a.m. — My alarm went off an hour and a half ago, but l spent the morning looking at my phone in bed, X-ing out emails, catching up with social media, and getting lost in my FYP. Finally, I get up, make a smoothie, reply to emails, and do my daily tabs-opening on the internet. I look at bedding on sale, and within minutes, my entire algorithm is serving me bedding ads. I envision my bedroom as a terracotta- and clay-colored haven of cloud cotton and linen as I click “add to cart,” but I let it marinate for a bit.
7 p.m. — I go to dinner with a work friend at a trendy fancy pizza place downtown. He describes it as the perfect embodiment of unpretentious yet impossible to get into. The pizza is good. We order key lime something for dessert, and it’s divine. I go home, belly full of dairy, happy. It’s early enough to watch a bit of TV as I do my new hobby of making beaded jewelry before bed. I’ve gotten really into making jewelry this year — it’s so satisfying to do something with my hands that doesn’t involve a screen, and I love having a hobby I can wear (but I do not have the patience for knitting). There’s a special kind of dopamine my brain releases when I do a little analog task just for fun. It’s way more satisfying than any feeling from scroll-related activities. I make a really pretty Baroque pearl necklace for a friend but decide I actually like it better for me, and I plan to make her another one. She won’t mind what she doesn’t know…
9:30 a.m. — I wake up sweating. There’s always a heat wave in early September, and every September, I forget this. Having no midday appointments is such a luxuriously free feeling, like I can do anything at my own pace — tantalizing and also dangerous because I can never underestimate my own ability to dilly-dally the day away. Ever since I went freelance full-time four years ago, I’ve become very good at doing nothing under the guise of doing something (perhaps too good). I decide I’ll do some errands that have been languishing in the back of my mind, dangling another $7 coffee as a reward on the way home.
1 p.m. — There are eight tabs currently open on my laptop, a few of which are for work, others for things I wish to buy: some new clothes, so many bedding websites, and jewelry. I’ve been eyeing a piece of “grown-up” jewelry for a while as a nice annual treat to myself for the growth and progress of my career this year. I’m coming up on the tail end of a couple of big, long-lead projects (which means long-lead paychecks) that I’m quite proud of. For every big career milestone, I like to reward myself with something my younger self never could’ve imagined affording. One year, it was designer boots, then a shearling winter coat, and then the Japanese ceramic dinnerware I’ve always wanted. Now, I’m on the hunt for a piece of jewelry that’s classically fancy in a way that isn’t an engagement ring — specifically, a tennis bracelet. It’s the most elegant way to casually wear so many diamonds in a row, you know? Shane Co. has a stunning 14k white gold tennis bracelet with lab-grown diamonds, a style I know I’ll wear forever. I add to my cart and quickly click “purchase” before I change my mind. It feels exhilarating to make a large purchase that isn’t also a tax write-off for me.
10 a.m. — I wake up, do my little morning routines, and then head to a dermatologist appointment for a third round of a laser facial. Whoever invented lasers for skin-clearing is a genius and also a sadist. It’s about seven minutes of zapping while gripping little squishy stress balls they give you, and I’m done, remarkably with an immediately more even-looking skin tone. Those lasers aren’t messing around. I shove a handful of fancy chocolates from the waiting room into my purse on the way out.
1 p.m. — Before heading home to finish up some work, I swing by a fancy bakery and grab the most decadent-looking pastry in the case — a pistachio honey croissant — and wash it down with a latte. There are few simple pleasures that bring me as much joy as a midday pastry, coffee, and people-watching.
7 p.m. — I head over to my boyfriend’s place, and we cook dinner before he goes on a work trip the next day. Mercifully, his apartment has central air conditioning — we’re at the peak of this heatwave, so I have no qualms with using the oven to roast veggies.
10 a.m. — A friend and I have been meaning to go to a bathhouse for ages, and today is finally the day. I wake up and rally to head to one of the big Korean spas with all the different saunas, pools, and steam rooms. I get a full-body exfoliation scrub, after which I feel reborn. I do this about once a year and keep meaning to up it to twice a year, if for no other reason than to shed the heaps of dead skin that get scrubbed off of me more frequently — but also, because it feels like a psychosomatic release of mental (and dermatological) gunk I’ve accumulated over time. I also think I finally get the fuss about cold plunges. It’s a low-stakes jumpscare and fun in a high-school-dare kind of way, but for the sake of general well-being. I do not plan on making it a habit, but I get it.
3 p.m. — So sleepy from all the soaking, steaming, and scrubbing, I spend the afternoon reading in the park under a shady tree. I like to take advantage of any season where I can comfortably spend time outdoors. On the walk home, I pick up a slice of pie for dessert later. It’s important to plan for cravings in advance.
10 a.m. — I wake up, have a quick coffee, and head over to the farmers’ market before everything’s sold out. I pick up the most delicious fresh-baked scone for breakfast, plus a bunch of berries and veggies for later. It’s kind of like trying to recapture that feeling of farm-to-table living…it’s exactly like that, actually.
7 p.m. — I attempt to make a vegetable quiche from some viral recipe, and it actually turns out pretty good! I’m so impressed with myself that I think I can be a chef, and then I remember all the yelling that’s involved and decide maybe not.
11 p.m. — I take my time doing my skin-care routine — including the weekly exfoliating mask I always forget to keep up with — and off to bed!
Reflection: It’s been a bit of an indulgent week. Oddly, it feels a little exhausting, but in a much more peaceful way than the usual burnt-out feeling after a regular busy week. I caught up on some much-needed bodywork all at once, but in the future, I’ll probably opt to space out those appointments a bit more. If there’s one thing I ought to plan more often, it’s getting out of town. A change of location is sometimes needed for a hard reset, and I’m beginning to realize that it’s important to schedule some resets amid the blind storm of routine after routine.
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