Cooking During the Weekends Helps Me Feel Grounded and Creative
"It also makes me feel more productive and happier than simply heating up a frozen meal does."
Even though HelloGiggles’ editorial assistant, Morgan Noll, claims her Sundays have been uneventful recently, she’s been enjoying the peace and quiet. While her pre-quarantine weekends involved a to-do list of chores and tasks to complete, she’s recently been starting her Sundays without much of an agenda.
“Since I’ve been quarantining at my family home, [I’ve been] spending time with my dogs on the couch, watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer with my mom, and sometimes doing a baking project with my sister,” says Noll, who normally lives in New York City but is currently staying with her parents in Lawrence, Kansas.
Noll tries to differentiate her weekends from her weekdays, but that’s become hard to do since she began self-isolating due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. To help prevent weekday work stress from bleeding into her weekend, she’s been trying to use her days off as a time to reset. “I think of Saturday mornings as a time when I’m still coming off of the exhaustion from the workweek—but I usually enter Sunday mornings feeling more refreshed and with a bit more energy. So I try to use that energy to cook a big breakfast for my family or find another creative outlet,” says Noll.
But just because she’s utilizing her weekends to be creative doesn’t mean she plans to fill up her leisure time with back-to-back events when things go back to normal. “I’ll be glad to give up more social experiences and start saying ‘no’ more often on the weekends,” says the 23-year-old. “I’ve realized how important it is for me to use my weekends to recharge, and I don’t want to continue compromising that by stacking them with social obligations in the future.”
For this week’s Self-Care Sunday, we spoke to Noll to learn more about her weekend routine these days. Here, in her own words, are her go-to Sunday activities, plus advice for other people who want to connect with friends without sacrificing their mental health.
For the most part, my mental health has been pretty regulated. Being at home with my family has allowed me to feel safe, relaxed, and in control of my immediate environment. I also can’t stress enough how much comfort my dogs have provided me in the past couple of months. More than anything, though, quarantine has made me much more aware of my mental health and how I’m feeling in each moment. When I’m feeling low or anxious, I know it and I acknowledge those feelings and try to work with them.
Go-to best mental health practices
I’m constantly trying to reset my expectations. If it’s Sunday afternoon and I haven’t yet gotten groceries or done my laundry, I tell myself it’s okay, reset, and I take the rest of the day from there. I also try to listen to my body. If I’m feeling unmotivated and unable to get anything done on Sundays, I understand that my body is probably telling me to rest and take it easy.
Wind-down practices to combat Sunday scaries
I try to confront the thing that’s causing me stress. If it’s a busy work schedule in the coming week, I try to make a list of the things on my agenda. And once I’ve identified and compiled that list, those things become less daunting and jumbled in my mind. At night, I spend my time on my beauty routine and try to be mindful with each step I take from washing my face to putting on moisturizer. I try not to go to bed in a rushed state because I know that will set the mood for the rest of my week.
Mindful cooking activities
I go big on Sundays to make them feel more special, so I cook! I always cook at least one meal. Even if I sleep in late, miss breakfast, or don’t feel the energy to cook a big meal, I’ll make myself a fancy grilled cheese, or something, just to put conscious effort into taking care of my needs. It’s literal nourishment, but it also makes me feel more productive and happier than simply heating up a frozen meal does.
Last Sunday, I made a big pot of homemade garlic mashed potatoes, a green beans and walnut dish, and my sister helped with the chicken for a main dish. For me, spending time making food that I’m excited to eat is my most conscious form of nourishment and self-care.
I’ve been trying to have respectful conversations with my family, reminding all of us that we are sharing this space and the energy we put into it affects us all.
I prefer to use Friday nights or Saturdays as my time to catch up with friends or loved ones over FaceTime. If I schedule too many check-ins on Sundays, that can give me added stress and cause me to rush conversations that I’d rather take slowly. On Sunday, I allow myself to be selfish with my time and take the day to do whatever I need for myself.
I’ll admit it, I am in the category of people who actually enjoy doing makeup when there’s nowhere to go. Because I have extra time on Sundays, I’ll sometimes try out a new makeup look that I saw during the week because it’s a way of putting my creativity to use without the pressure of starting a whole new art project. My all-time favorite product, no matter what makeup look I’m doing, is the Lumene Watercolor Blush. Even if I’m tired, exhausted, or feeling uninspired, the color brightens up my cheeks and gives more life to my face. To me, it’s like the effect of smiling when you’re sad.
I’ve also become very attached to my Hidrate Spark Water Bottle. It syncs with an app on my phone and lights up to give me reminders to drink water and meet my daily goals. I can be terrible at drinking water and this bottle holds me accountable and helps me do one of the most important things to keep myself healthy.
I want to have a big, shared meal with my friends. Eating out at restaurants, or even just ordering in at someone’s apartment, is my favorite way to socialize, and I’m eager for a time when I can do so safely again.
It’s cliché and very millennial of me, but I missbrunch. Even if it’s the only thing I leave the house for on Sundays, I feel satisfied. Sunday brunch is usually the time when I see friends I don’t have time to see during the week, and that’s when we’re all the most relaxed and present with one another. A no-phones, slow brunch with friends on a Sunday morning is everything to me.
Advice for how to connect with others without sacrificing your mental health
Start by being honest. It can be especially hard in quarantine to explain why you don’t have time or energy to talk with friends, but it’s important to let your friends know how you’re feeling. True friends will understand. I’ve texted them before, “Hey, I don’t feel like I have the energy for a call right now—can we talk tomorrow instead?” That also opens up the conversation for your friends to do the same with you when they don’t have the energy. Also, then when you and them do schedule a time to talk, you’ll both be able to give each other more focus and you can be more present with that time.