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Quarantine: Self Reflections & Self Care

Originally, my idea for this article was simple. I had planned to write an article reviewing personal care products from The Body Shop. I wanted to review products because it’s a hobby of mine, but I also wanted to find new ways for our community to relax and practice self care, particularly during this highly stressful pandemic. 

However, when I sat down to actually write this article, I realized that what started off as a simple reviewing past time turned into a more profound analysis of how quarantine has changed my priorities and opened my eyes to what I really need—in simple terms—to be happy at any given point in my life (quarantine or not). 

Now, for those of you who could benefit from carefully curated reviews of The Body Shop’s products, I’ve made sure to stay true to my original goal and include my “self care product testing journey” down below as well. 

However, I encourage everyone to take a moment and read the answers that my friends gave in response to two questions I posed, specifically tailored to our current quarantine situation:

1.   “What have you been doing to practice your own personal form of self care while in quarantine?” 

2.  “What have you learned about yourself during these past two months?”

Max G: 

1.“I’ve been trying to get sun every day. [This] might mean a walk, might mean class outside, might mean a quick breakfast outside. That direct sunlight and fresh air is keeping me sane. And the other thing is listening to what I want at the moment. If I want to take a fast drive down to a place to hike I do it. If I want to be late to class to make my tea and eggs, I can be a little late. Health over perfection.”

2. “I’ve learned I don’t like being bored. Silence is scary. And I need to get out even more, especially with friends. I definitely spent too much time working at cps, shoulda played around more, enjoyed it more. Creating memories is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.”

Aadil F: 

1.“The main things that I have been practicing while in quarantine for self care are exercising and spending time with my family. As an athlete (or you don’t even have to be an athlete) spending more time at home and being more in control of my schedule allows me to plan my days centered around training. That way, I always have something to look forward to and something that keeps me motivated to wake up day after day.

I’ve found ways to be creative with my workouts. I’ll go for bike rides, go for a run, do high intensity bodyweight workouts, and I even have a pair of dumbbells that I can create a killer workout to do. Training has been crucial to [me] staying sane during these times.

For my family, I’m a senior and will be going to school in Boston, which means I will be far away from my family. Therefore, in a sense, this quarantine has been a blessing because our entire family is home, and we will either go for family walks, or have movie nights. I’ve taken family time for granted in the past so being able to spend quality time with them now has been amazing.”

2. “I’d say I’ve learned a lot about myself during this quarantine. I always had a feeling I was motivated and determined in whatever I was doing, but even after being in quarantine surrounded by a “lazy” environment, I’m very happy with myself because I’ve been able to keep going and stick with my diet and workouts. Along with that, while my senioritis gets worse everyday, I still have feelings that make me not want to skip assignments or slack off. So, in a sense, I haven’t really learned anything new, but rather have solidified that the traits I have aren’t “flukes” and I can count on myself to hold myself accountable.” 

Kira PP:

1. “It varies [from] day to day. Some days I wake up and I think, the best thing I can do for myself will be to stay in my pajamas and Zoom from my bed. There are other days when I realize that I hate being unproductive and I get dressed nicely and organize. I take a lot of walks with my dog, and it’s nice to see people around and acknowledge that there are other people in the world besides the two others in my house. More specifically, my favorite way to relax when stressed is to do the daily NYT crossword puzzles. I do them with my mom with auto check on, because neither of us know enough to do them alone. We also only do Monday-Thursday crosswords, because the Friday-Sunday are too hard. It’s fun, not because it’s nerdy or ‘I’m learning new trivia’ or anything, but because it’s kind of nice to tune everything out and focus on finishing a really stupid puzzle. It also sometimes makes me feel smart, especially when you start figuring out patterns– for example, the crossword writers love the words ‘Elsa,’ ‘Iota,’ ‘Adele,’ and ‘et al.’ You feel sort of cool when you can pick up on those words without thinking about it. It makes me think that I have a handle on some things, although that’s kind of sad.”

2. “In some ways, the extra time has been good, because I can spend a lot more time on projects I’ve always wanted to start. I first started the rutabaga article, for example, in January, and then I didn’t have the time. Seniors of CPS was also something that only happened because I had the time and I wasn’t interacting with as many people as usual. Even with the extra time, I’m still pretty bad at time management.I need to have a physical thing that I can use to plan ahead, but I don’t like regular calendars because they go Sunday-Saturday, and I’m super picky so I like Monday-Sunday. The main thing I’ve learned is that quarantine isn’t as hard for me as it is for some people. I’m really lucky to be able to say that, but it also sort of frightens me that I’m not feeling so pent up and stir crazy.”

Yulia G:

1. “Over quarantine I’ve gotten myself into a regular exercise routine for the first time and it’s improved my mood so much –  I feel so much more productive and energetic. I’ve also been cooking a ton, which is something that I’ve always loved doing, but haven’t had much time for until now. This sounds sort of weird, but I love making dishes that complement the weather. For example, on colder days I love making this apple cinnamon baked oatmeal and on warmer days I love making different fruit-based dishes like fruit salads or this strawberry soup that my aunt makes. Plus, it’s fun to experiment with the ingredients that you have! It’s like a puzzle. I’m actually planning on trying to make banana bread out of pancake mix and making my own yogurt!”

2.  “I think I’ve learned how much I value people in my life. Transitioning to quarantine was really tough for me because I love being around people and, even though I’m with my family, they’re busy a lot of the time. But, I’m still able to connect with my friends through FaceTime which is great. Also, I’ve been going for walks with my mom and I’ve learned so much about her that I hadn’t known before. She tells me all sorts of cool stories from when she lived in Poland and her family history, like about her grandparents growing up during WWII.”

Daisy M: 

1. “For me, effective self care has been creating a routine that I stick by: I write down when I will do my school work, but also plan when I will workout and relax by chatting with friends and family. For the first month of quarantine, I did a really good job with this. I have a lot of energy and have always done a sport, so working out is integral for me to stay sane. I do what makes me feel better. For example, I know a lot of people who have been meditating more during quarantine to keep themselves sane, but I found not being able to do my normal runs and see people in real life that I had way too much energy to be meditating, so I chose to stick with yoga. 

I have also been spending time walking with my parents and relaxing outside. We also bought lounge chairs for the backyard, so I try to do readings for English and History outside. I like drawing outside too [because]  since coming to CPS I never really had time to do that during the school year. 

I try to be realistic: I might not be as efficient as I want to be because right now is not a normal time.”

2. “I have learned how much I value being active. [However,] some days when I do not feel up for a hard workout, I do one of the fitness marshall’s half hour dance sessions. Even though they are kind of silly I feel super happy afterwards. I am an extroverted person, so I knew I got my energy from others. However, I do not think I understood that without people and sustained physical activity I would feel drained. 

I have learned that screens, for me, are exhausting and that I should appreciate how lucky I am to get to go to a school where I am taught by teachers and not a computer program.

I have also realized how close the friendships I have formed are; I have restarted a book club with my middle school friends, and when we have our meetings it feels like nothing has changed. 

I also realized just how much I love CPS; in a way, having no transition between leaving CPS and entering college has made me reflect on my four years at CPS independently more than I may have. I feel very grateful to have gone to CPS, and I have realized how formative it is to who I am, which for me is a big deal because I tend to think I have changed very little over the course of my life.”

After asking so many people to indulge me and answer my questions, I figured that it was only fair for me to answer them as well. Here are my answers:

Danna CG: 

1. The main thing I’ve been doing to practice self care is sleeping when I want to. I’m the type of person who has trouble going to bed early. Not because I have multiple midnight deadlines to meet but because I really treasure the silence and peace that comes late at night. Staying up late is my way of gifting myself one or two hours where I can do whatever I want (write, listen to music, snack, watch House MD) in silence, really relishing in my own space. At the same time, I’m someone who absolutely needs sleep to feel good and healthy. During quarantine, I’ve really been embracing naps and sleeping in to give myself a nice balance of night life, productivity, and rest. 

I’ve also been practicing a solid exercise routine and since I can no longer go to my boxing gym, I’ve had the chance to get back into running and start enjoying it again instead of feeling pressured to get results. Exercise makes me feel alive, energetic, and happy, so whenever I get the chance to go outside, I feel lucky to live in a place where walking and running is still safe. 

2) I’ve asked myself this question a lot. In simple terms, the main thing I’ve learned is how much I do value time spent with people. I’ve always considered myself to be fairly introverted and downplayed to myself how much I enjoyed being around other people. Now that I don’t have the privilege of seeing my friends, or even just acquaintances, every day, I’ve realized how much simple human interactions mean to me. I’ve learned to take joy in the small interactions I do get with people, (exchanging a smile with a stranger on a run, saying hi to my neighbors). Most of all, I’ve realized how much I value and enjoy spending time with my family and having dinner together. I’ve always appreciated them but now I’m more thankful for our time together. 

The Body Shop Reviews:

* A note about pricing: I bought these products when The Body Shop was having a 30% off sale meaning that I paid a lot less than list price and would suggest waiting for these kinds of sales. 

Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask 

Price: $6

Rating: 8/10

I bought this mask imagining one of those sticky, black charcoal face masks that were all the rage on Instagram last year. This mask is definitely not that type of charcoal mask, (think a brownish-green color with little flakes). However, it does work quite well at purifying and really brightening the skin. The only downside to this mask is that it can make dry skin feel even drier since it works by drying very quickly and tightening your face. I would recommend this mask to people who do not have overly dry, sensitive skin. 

Nicaraguan Coffee Intense Awakening Mask

Price: $6

Rating: 10/10

I loved many many things about this mask, the first being the smell! Just like the name would suggest, this mask will leave you smelling like delicious, freshly ground coffee. I actually think that the coffee smell is part of the reason why this mask is so good at waking you up. Unlike the charcoal mask, this is not a restrictive mask. This face mask sits nicely on your skin and leaves the skin feeling soft, slightly exfoliated and awake. I usually have pretty dry skin and I really noticed a big difference in terms of how soft and smooth it was after using this mask. Also, as an added perk – it’s super easy to wash off! 

Chinese Ginseng & Rice Clarifying Polishing Mask

Pictured: Me really enjoying the Ginseng mask’s aesthetics.

Price: $2.50 

Rating: 6/10

There was honestly nothing particularly bad about this mask. However, there was nothing particularly remarkable about it either. The mask left my skin feeling a little bit softer and smelled nice but that’s about all that stood out to me. 

Moringa Nourishing Dry Oil For Body & Hair

Price: $14

Rating: 6.5/10

I was really excited to try this oil because it was advertised as being good for both your hair and body and who doesn’t love a product who can do both? I used the oil both on my skin and hair and really loved its smell when I put it on. However, the oil definitely lost it’s Moringa smell as the hours went by and started smelling very stale once it really dried. (This is not the first time something like this happens to me with oils so my guess is that oils smell stale when dry?) The oil didn’t really provide a lot of moisture for my skin but it did give my hair a nice shine. If you use this oil, I suggest using it an hour or two before you shower so that you can wash out any dry oil smell. 

Moringa Exfoliating Cream Body Scrub

Price: $6

Rating: 8/10

This scrub had a very pleasant “Moringa” smell to it. It also did a nice job of making my hands and feet feel a lot softer after using it. Overall, I liked this scrub and would consider buying it again but I would also buy a different scrub if it was cheaper. 

Elderflower Unperfumed Cooling Eye Gel

Price: $11

Rating: 9/10

I didn’t really know what to expect from an eye gel when I bought this. (I didn’t even know if I was supposed to put it on my eyelids or under eyes. I found out it’s for your under eyes!!) I had read that this gel is really good at reducing puffiness and I found this to be 100% true. I am definitely someone who wakes up with really puffy eyes if I don’t sleep well and also someone who gets super puffy eyes whenever I cry. This gel worked incredibly well at reducing puffiness and making me look a lot more rested. The only downside is that this gel has a noticeable alcohol scent and therefore isn’t quite as natural as I would’ve hoped. 

Vitamin C Energizing Face Mist

Price: $20

Rating: 8/10 

This was my first time trying a face mist and I honestly bought this because the “Vitamin C” lettering jumped out at me as a way to possibly help out my immune system? The mist smells very nice and it definitely does make my skin feel more awake. I also read that you can use this mist to set your makeup so I’m going to list that as another plus. 

Facial Mask Brush

Price: $15

Rating: 10/10 !!!

Okay, I’ll admit I saved the best for last. (Yes, I know this isn’t technically a product but bear with me). I absolutely loved this brush and really thought it made my whole face mask experience. I almost didn’t buy the brush because I thought it might be an unnecessary use of money but I am so glad that I did. This brush made every single face mask application incredibly un-messy and really saved my bathroom counters. It also made the application a lot smoother and kept the masks from getting in my hair/eyes. The brush is also super easy to clean and has a very nice, smooth feel to it. 


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