It's officially clear that for many, myself included, the pandemic has brought permanent change to life. I don't envision a future where I'll be going back to an office anytime soon, and I've finally gotten to the point of acceptance. While I've worked from home in the past, (when I was a full-time freelance writer/editor), this time around is different, and it's really taken time for me to get to a place of comfort and finding joy and wellness in everyday life. Here are the things that have truly become central to my life. Hope you find something you like!
Months one through three of the pandemic were fairly gluttonous for me and I'm now trying to stay in a focused and more healthy mode. My favorite grocery store find is Hakuna Banana, a dairy-free, banana-based frozen treat with only 90 calories per serving. Find it at your local Whole Foods.
Part of that healthy focus is also about cutting down on alcohol. Lately, I've been substituting my weekday wine with this pineapple-flavored kombucha. It truly feels like a cocktail-like treat: It creates a nice foam when you pour it over ice, and has so much flavor without being too sweet.
Cocktails in The Shower
That said, on Fridays or the weekends I do have a bit of a ritual that I've brought back from my college days, only this time it's not a cheap can of beer, but an adult cocktail in the shower. I add a little extra twist by serving it in one of the to-go cups my husband and I brought back from a trip to New Orleans. The travel memory instantly puts me in a relaxed, happy place.
I got this as a gift a few months ago and I've been rationing it, using it only in my special shower ritual. The ritual is: Go for a run, re-hydrate/stretch, mix up my shower cocktail, then lather my body in this rose-scented body polish. It leaves your skin feeling dewy and fresh and I wish I could use it everyday but that could easily turn into an expensive habit.
Full truth: Natural deodorant has never worked for me. Despite trying many, I've always ended up with a bit of a funky smell at the end of the day. Now that my life is 100% work-from-home, I've gone back to Megababe's rose-scented, all-natural deodorant. I know: Why even bother with deodorant in a pandemic? I love Rosy Pits more for the light scent it leaves on me and on my clothes, especially if I want to stretch a T-shirt over two days. And now that I'm not in an office, extraordinarily, I'm not getting any funky odors, even after light lunchtime workouts (more on that in a minute). Megababe is a truly cool, indie company — we did a home tour with its founder a while back ... check it out!
I was on Sephora the other day, about to buy an uber-expensive bottle of Good Genes, when I paused to think about how much my spending on beauty products has decreased. I've all but given up on foundation and dry shampoo ... maybe I need to just work with what I've got for my skincare routine. After all, my medicine cabinet is basically an apothecary of half-used products. I remembered that some six months ago, I bought this bottle of lactic acid after reading it was a dupe for Good Genes. I now put this on every morning, and follow it up a few hours later with The Ordinary's Buffet.
I basically live in bike shorts all day now — partly because I do a quick midday workout. Everlane's new-ish bike shorts are awesome, with a seemingly magic fit. If you dig them, I highly recommend ordering quickly — they sell out so fast!
Tie-dye is all the rage these days, and I'm here for it. I recently got into a new L.A.-based apparel company called here:now that specializes in super-soft tie-dyed pieces. On days I'm not wearing my Everlane bike shorts, you can find me in this matching short-shirt combo.
Hated bras before the pandemic, hate 'em still. But if I don't put one on on the morning now, my whole day can fall apart quickly. These soft Hanes sports bras (they're not really built for sports where you need support, FYI) are actually super comfortable.
I don't know what is up with Target's womenswear design team, but all of a sudden, they are seriously killing it. Every time I'm in-store or browsing their site, I find something that feels more like millennial-Insta-brand than big-box. Lately, there are so many options for casual, breezy dresses (I'm so over anything form-fitting). My latest purchase (above) is a cap sleeve dress from the Prologue line and is only $22.99. I also bought this Wild Fable T-shirt dress,which I like to wear while cooking or running errands.
While I've been really careful with my spending during the pandemic, I did reach a point where I felt like I needed something that felt like a real treat/present to myself. I've had my eye on these Gucci sunglasses since January and decided to finally commit. They now make trips to the grocery store feel kind of glamorous.
I've been savoring this candle crafted by the magical Flamingo Estate, a mansion that once hosted events and now sells its own brand of various goods like body products, olive oil, and honey. They also have fantastic candles that smell like the essence of enchanted garden. I light this candle in the afternoons — it gives me a scent memory that reminds me that the day is almost over.
In the early days of the pandemic, I signed up for a couple paid fitness subscriptions and started to feel like they just weren't worth the expense. I've since discovered FIT by Larie and her barre-inspired workouts, all on YouTube. What I love most is how she's created playlists by duration. At noon, I take a quick break and follow along with one of her 20- to 25-minute workouts.
Many of FIT by Larie's workouts use resistance bands, so I ordered this 5-pack of colorful bands which range from x-light to x-heavy. They come in a cute pink pouch for storage.
At 4:15 p.m. on the dot I'm out for my post-work walk (I work from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.). I used to listen to the news while walking, but it's, ya know, just a bit too much these days. I never would have thought I'd be one for fictional podcasts, but I've found a few that really managed to captivate me. The first is The Left Right Game (from Qcode), about a mysterious driving game that transports you into a new dimension. The other is Blood Ties (from Wondery) about two siblings whose parents, founders of a mega-rich medical company, go missing in a plane crash. Blood Ties just started releasing season two, which I'm currently listening to. You can find both on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
After my run/walk, it's usually cooking time and I'll either continue the podcast I'm on, or listen to something light and dreamy. My new fave is a woman out of Sweden who goes by the name LonelyTwin. Her cover of MGMT's "Electric Feel" is definitely one to add to your chill playlist.
(Full disclosure: My husband is her manager, but I'm 100% a fan.)
I've always been a big fan of jigsaw puzzles, but during the pandemic, I wanted to find a project that would take up more time. (I can easily finish a 1,000-piece puzzle in a weekend.) I found a number of really interesting paint by numbers kits on Amazon, and I absolutely love the creativity and focus they require. My first one (pictured above) took about two months to complete and I'm so excited to start my second.
Leonora Epstein is Hunker's Senior Director of Content. She has previously served as Executive Editor at HelloGiggles and as BuzzFeed's Deputy Editorial Director. She is the co-author of "X vs. Y: A Culture War, a Love Story" (Abrams, 2014). Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.