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. Have your own Feel Good Diary about how you’re coping around the COVID-19 outbreak? We’d love to hear how you’re prioritizing your mental and physical health at this time. Submit your entry here!
Today: Singer/songwriter Madison Beer uses journaling, daily walks, and cut-throat family game nights to protect her mental health while in quarantine.
Location: Long Island, NY
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, producer, video director
7 a.m. — I’m back in Long Island where I’ll be self-isolating with family for the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been living on my own in LA for the past three years, so it feels strange not waking up in my own bed. I know I made the right choice to leave on March 15, but it wasn’t a decision I made lightly. With travel restrictions increasing every day and knowing it would give my parents peace of mind to have me back in New York, I threw some essentials (including my laptop, all chargers, and of course… leggings!) in a carry-on, and booked a flight from LAX to JFK.
I took CDC-recommended precautions while traveling, including wearing a mask, wiping down surfaces on the plane, and sanitizing my hands, and I watched movies to pass the time on the nearly six-hour flight. It feels really good to be at home with my mom and brother, who have always been there for me through bad times and good. They both understand my inner struggles and have been such a great support system. I couldn’t have asked for a better self-isolation crew.
4 p.m. — One great thing about being home is the extra space and fresh air I wouldn’t have had been afforded in my apartment in LA. And my dogs! My mom and I decide we’ll make taking them for a walk part of our daily routine. My mom claims her Pomeranian, Zeplin, is her best friend, but I have a feeling he likes me better… We also have another Pomeranian named Zero and two goldendoodles, Honey and Boo Boo, in tow.
This quiet walk through the neighborhood is a really calming part of my day. It has also been a really special time for me and my mom to connect, for which I’m grateful. Living in LA is a necessity for my career, but has unfortunately taken me away from friends and family on the East Coast. I try to remind myself of small positives every day, and this time with my mom is definitely one of them.
I spend the rest of the afternoon checking social media, mainly scrolling through TikTok and checking Twitter for news updates, and chatting with some friends on FaceTime about their experiences in self-isolation. It’s important for us to check in on each other during these times, even if it’s just a quick text. I’m relieved to hear everyone is doing well despite the circumstances.
10 p.m. — My favorite way to wind down and end the day is with a hot bath. Today I’m using lavender essential oils and some Epsom salt to make for a really relaxing soak. I also usually light candles and listen to music to help myself unwind. Right now, I’m really into the new Tame Impala album, mixed with some classics like The Everly Brothers and The Beatles. I also take this time to reflect on the day and meditate. Just like it’s important to check in with loved ones when times are tough, it’s equally as important to check in with yourself. I take stock of my emotions and let myself feel them. When things feel too overwhelming, I practice a breathing exercise my therapist taught me, which always helps to ease my anxiety: Take a deep breath, hold it for five seconds, then release the air, along with any negative thoughts you’re holding on to.
10:30 a.m. — I’m an avid journal writer, so this morning I’ve dedicated to jotting down some thoughts and intentions for the day in the Notes app on my phone. Today I’m focusing on highlighting things I’m grateful for — and pulling details from a wild dream I had last night for future song lyrics. Journaling has been so important for me in both dealing with my anxiety and helping with my songwriting. The latter is definitely a form of therapy for me, too. Getting to put my feelings and experiences down in lyrics not only helps me deal with things I may be struggling with, but also helps my fans who may be going through similar things. I’m always so touched when a fan reaches out to me on social media to tell me I’ve helped them get through a tough time. I feel so lucky to be there for them. We all share a bond.
5 p.m. —Today, my mom and I went on an isolation walk that ended at my dad’s house, who thankfully lives just a few minutes down the street. I’m really lucky to have parents who are pros at co-parenting, even though they aren’t together. It’s been really comforting spending time with the both of them while isolating. While at my dad’s house, Trivial Pursuit is the name of the game. Tonight I’m feeling like it’s my night to win. My family can get pretty competitive, but everything is all in good fun… until I crush them of course.
My dad whips up a fierce victory dinner for us after I win… Okay, I didn’t win. But I was a close second to my brother! My dad is an awesome cook and on the menu tonight are burgers, ribs, and hot dogs.
12 p.m. — This morning I woke up later than planned, and rather than being frustrated with myself, I chose to accept that more sleep was something my body needed and it was ultimately a good thing. It’s really important to be kind to yourself, particularly at times of heightened stress. So I’m trying to take life as it comes and remind myself that things often aren’t as bad as they seem. There’s a coping technique I learned in therapy that has helped a lot with this. When you’re in a difficult or stressful situation, instead of feeling helpless, ask yourself, “If so, then…” to talk through some ways of dealing with it. For example: “If I was to — God forbid — get sick, then what? Then, I’d have to rest, take meds, and isolate.” Then tell yourself facts, “I am young, healthy, and odds are I would beat this virus.” It gives your mind a way of coping with realistic issues by breaking things down with realistic answers.
Self-isolating has made a lot of people, myself included, feel a sense of added pressure to be really productive, or to use our extra time to learn a new skill or hobby. While picking up new hobbies may be a helpful way for some to cope with added stress, this isn’t the case for everyone. But being patient with yourself right now is key. Want to spend an extra hour in bed? Go for it. Want to learn a new language? Awesome. Take things day by day and know it’s okay to not feel up to everything.
1 p.m. — I spent the afternoon volunteering with my family to help deliver food to local communities and at-risk people in Long Island. As always, we make sure to wear the proper protective gear and keep a safe distance from others. It’s been really frustrating to see how our health care workers don’t have the equipment they need. And where are the tests? These questions are keeping my anxiety high, but I’m so glad my family got me out to do something to help today.
Small acts of kindness like this have been keeping my spirits high when there are so many reasons to feel down. Whether it’s because of financial or health constraints, many people are facing difficulties getting groceries and running other errands. Thankfully, I have seen so many incredible groups of volunteers offering their time to help these individuals. In NYC alone there are apps like Nextdoor and volunteer organizations such as Invisible Hands who enlist able-bodied New Yorkers to run errands for at risk groups.
8 p.m. — Tonight my mom and I started a new puzzle and played a few rounds of Rummikub, a tile-based game that’s like a combo of mahjong and rummy. It’s a lot less intense than our family round of Trivial Pursuit. It’s nice to end the day like this, phone down and doing something fun with someone I love. We call it a night after the third round, and I head to my room to do a face mask and journal. I haven’t journaled at all today, so words seem to be flowing out of my head faster than I can write them down. I stay up later than planned, but it feels good to get my thoughts down. Plus, I think I have some great material for a new song.
12 p.m. — Today I got trapped in a major TikTok hole, and basically spent the whole morning in bed. Work and family time have been keeping me busy, so it feels good to have a lazy, slow morning in bed. I have a promotion to do later on for my upcoming album, so I make sure to have my calendar memorized before I hop in the shower to get ready. Like most other days this week, I throw on The Slow Rush by Tame Impala and let it blast through my speakers while I’m getting ready.
4 p.m. — Doing the promo for my album is a nice reminder that there are actually some things to look forward to. Love a good distraction. My album was meant to come out already, but we unfortunately had to delay the release due to everything going on with the pandemic. I know it was the right call. It’s so important for me to be able to tour and see my fans once I put music out, so delaying was the only logical option. Everyone’s safety and health are the top priorities. And I know once I am able to tour it will be an amazing experience, so I remind myself that there are so many awesome days to come. After the promo, I go live on my Instagram to answer some questions from friends and fans, and to sing a couple songs off my album. My fans are really seeming to love the new music — I’m so excited for them to hear more!
10:30 a.m. — I’ve decided today will be a phone- and social media-free day — well, to the fullest extent it can be. I’m sure I speak for a lot of people, specifically girls my age, who feel that constantly being on social media can be a draining experience. Some days it’s easy to ignore the hate that festers online, and others it seems like it’s all I see. Like with anything, that feels overwhelming mentally and emotionally. It’s becoming more important as each day passes to take a step back every once in a while. Everything in moderation! So today I’m stepping back. Instead of spending my morning on my phone, I’ve thrown on some music, lit a candle, and am journaling some intentions for the future.
But… inevitably I sneak a quick peak of Tik Tok (it’s too fun!). Okay, so, a little journaling, and a quick scroll.
2 p.m. — While in isolation, my family and I have been cooking all of our favorite comfort foods, but today we’ve decided to order delivery from our favorite local restaurant. So many of our favorite small businesses and local restaurants have been hit really hard by the pandemic, so we’ve been trying to support them in small ways. We order more than enough food for our household of three and leave an extra large tip at our front door for when the driver drops off our food.
11 p.m. — I’ve been journaling a lot this week, so before bed I decide to look back through at some of the ideas and emotions I’ve been jotting down the past few days. Feeling inspired, I go back to some of the scribbles for a new song I’m working on. I send some lines to my team and we bounce ideas off each other for a bit. Getting to create together even though we can’t physically be together has been a really grounding aspect of my time in isolation, and I’m so thankful for their good vibes and ideas. Love my team.
11 a.m. — This morning I wake up feeling particularly motivated to work out, so I take advantage of the moment. I cue up a workout video on YouTube. Today it’s a bit of yoga with an added ab and arm workout. There are so many great options for at-home fitness online. I always feel ten times better if I fit in a sweat session before I start my day, so I’m feeling pretty accomplished. I head downstairs to grab a bite to eat — a banana and strawberry protein smoothie — then hop in the shower to get ready for the rest of my day.
12:30 p.m. — I’m still feeling so inspired and motivated from my chat with my team last night that I sit down to brainstorm some more potential lyrics for upcoming tracks. My creative director and I then talk about how we can create cool content while stuck at home, and discuss some ideas we have for videos for songs from my album. Even though we can’t film anything for a while, it feels good to get the ball rolling on some ideas we want to execute when everything opens back up. We talk about the shoot for my track “Good In Goodbye” where I got to do some cool aerial tricks and everything was shot on a green screen. I loved exploring the idea of what it would be like to physically battle another side of yourself, so that’s definitely a theme we’re thinking of tackling again. Talking about this gets me so pumped to get back to work — I just hope we can all return to it safely, sooner rather than later.
8 p.m. — Learning a second language was never something I really had time to do, so isolation seemed like the perfect opportunity to pick up French. While it’s extremely difficult to learn something like this on your own, I’ve been getting a lot of help from Duolingo. I feel like I’m doing something constructive. I’m making progress day by day and while I can’t promise I’ll be fluent when this is all over, I can promise you I’ll know more than just “Je m’appelle Madison!”
10:15 a.m. — One of the things that’s kept me on track during isolation is getting dressed for the day even though I have nowhere to be. Whether it’s putting on a fresh pair of sweats or actually wearing jeans, it feels good to have a morning routine that is still intact. I opt for a tie dye sweatsuit set that I’ve been living in since before the pandemic hit and throw my hair in a bun. Since I have more time in the mornings than I normally do when I have a packed schedule, I spend extra time on my skin care routine. I have some Zoom calls later in the day so I decide to actually throw on some mascara (which I haven’t done in ages!) and put on some jewelry.
1 p.m. — I’m taking my daily isolation walk with the dogs solo today to do some reflecting and take time for myself. This daily ritual has been such a positive part of my isolation experience. Not only is it nice to get some fresh air and move my body, but it’s also been critical in maintaining a positive mental state. I’m able to turn off all the voices in my head reminding me of my anxieties and stressors. I have my headphones with me, so I throw on a guided meditation and listen while I walk. When I return home, I’m feeling a bit calmer — but the news is on and the anxiety and my fears for the future take hold again.
5 p.m. — Just got word from my team that my fans have blown up my label’s Instagram page about my song “Stained Glass.” I teased it during my livestream the other night and looks like everyone is loving it. It’s one of my most personal songs to date, so I’m really glad it’s connecting.
11:30 p.m. — Tonight I’m feeling particularly deflated by the hate and negativity I’ve seen on TikTok. It’s been a great and fun tool for me to connect with my fans through — but there are so many pages filled with mean comments. It breaks my heart. Commenting negatively on anyone’s weight or looks just isn’t right, and I hate that it’s become something that is so normalized.
I believe people who post mean comments often don’t even consider the consequences that might result from them. It’s so critically important to be kind to one another, especially when dealing with a crisis like COVID-19. It just really makes you question humanity. It’s an issue I’ll continue to be vocal about.
Reflection: Keeping this diary and journaling in general during this time has really helped me to take stock of the things I’m grateful for. Thankfully, everyone in my family is in good health. I have a roof over my head and food on my table — some stiff competition on game night that keeps me on my toes. I’ve been able to spend quality time with my family that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and I’m heading into next week trying to keep a positive outlook on the rest of isolation.
Reminding myself of the small positives in times of crisis is key, and is something that has always helped me get through tough times. Even though I could come up with a million reasons to feel helpless and negative, I recognize it’s important for me to be patient with myself and prioritize my mental and physical health, always. And breaking down is okay, too. Learning something new is great during this time, but it’s also okay if I literally just stare at the walls all day… just as long as I stay home! That is my only job, in addition to keeping my mind right and healthy. I’m thinking of everyone who has been negatively affected by COVID-19, especially those who have lost a friend or a loved one. I know we will get through this. There are certainly challenges — but I am very proud of everyone, from the heroes on the front lines to those doing their part and just staying in. Remember: We got this!
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