A Coping Confessional


First thing in the morning, I immediately checked my email. Strangely enough, it was one of the familiar constants that I used to maintain the slightest bit of normalcy in my life during quarantine. The usual bank statements and online sales advertisements were now intermixed with unemployment notifications and messages from companies all synonymously communicating that  “We’re all in this together during these uncertain times.” 

Checking my email was one of the most enticing parts of my day, “FLASH SALE” started to seem increasingly intriguing. With nowhere to go, and consequently no one to smell me, I convinced myself I was in great need of my own collection of Bath & Body Works products. I wasn’t going on shopping sprees or out to eat with friends anymore, so this purchase was easily justified. Improving my self-care always seems like a worthwhile investment. With a cart full of a few too many products, I happily clicked “Submit Order.” Even though my new products weren’t supposed to be delivered for around a week, I quickly began to occupy my time by seeing if my package had arrived whenever a mailman walked by.

With the lingering scent of raspberry jam doughnut leftover from an application the night before, I groggily got out of bed and changed into my workout clothes. I highly disliked exercising. I worked at a restaurant, so I used the excuse that I already got in enough steps. Once quarantine started and the restaurant I worked at closed, I had lost my golden excuse. This effort to improve my self-care would take a bit more work than simply adding a few bubble baths to my online shopping cart. Full transparency— I was probably averaging a good 10 steps a day around my small studio apartment. To summarize the situation more accurately, I was not moving. Having already tried out my fair share of yoga and workout tutorials on YouTube in the past, I decided to muster up the courage to try out jogging. (add your decision to jog before you get into the details) With merciful intentions, I assured myself I should only jog for as long as I felt comfortable. If I actually went through with this mindset, I would’ve headed home almost immediately. To me, exercise is many things, but it is not comfortable. Regardless, I put in my Bluetooth earphones, and on I went.

“My long-awaited products had finally arrived, and I was lost in a perfume cloud of bliss. Without hesitation, I began envisioning the various scent routines and combinations I could conjure up.”

During a sizable amount of quarantine, I learned to truly appreciate what it meant for time to be an abstract concept. Going to sleep at five in the morning or pulling an all-nighter became routine. I remember heading to the grocery store in the early morning after staying up all night and waiting for it to open alongside a few early risers. I got my groceries and headed home, and then proceeded to bake a few batches of peanut butter kiss and maraschino chocolate chip cookies only to completely crash thereafter. I’m not sure whether I’d consider that to be a high or low point during my quarantine experience, but it stands out. 

Needless to say, my sleep schedule was terrible. My “Sleep” aromatherapy products from Bath & Body Works weren’t working as well as I had hoped. At the time, I had received a book on breathing and its importance and power in our lives. Nasal breathing during sleep seemed overtly significant, so I began doing nasal breathing sleep exercise videos before bed. There was also an option, which you can find from the book and online, of taping your mouth shut to avoid breathing through it, but that seemed like the perfect catalyst for a disturbing series of nightmares. Before long, I started practicing breathing exercises frequently throughout the day.        

Practically drowning in products from Bath & Body Works, I had my nighttime routine down pat. My usual fifteen-minute beauty regimen quickly grew into an hour-long at-home spa treatment. With the amount of dedication and time I put into my routine, one must’ve thought I was having a Princess Diaries level makeover every night, minus the drastic results. After a few weeks of body care bliss and, subsequently, a few additional charges to my credit card, the guilt sank in. Sure, I bought the products on sale, but I repetitively fell for a common shopper’s mistake. I did not need these products. I was completely blinded by my rapid addiction to the products and the apparent “limited time” deals. In the back of my mind I questioned if the happiness these products brought me had outweighed the toll they were taking on my wallet. 

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

I carried on with one of my two self-prescribed jogs for the week, only this time it was sprinkling outside. My pre-jogging self would’ve thrown the idea of exercising in any less than perfect conditions out the window, so this is progress. For the sake of clarity, although I am using the term “jogging,” it could seamlessly be exchanged with “moving at a slightly faster pace than I do walking.” Halfway through my jog, tragedy strikes. The video covering a product review on Bath & Body Works tropical collection, which I had been listening to, completely cuts off. With my distraction gone, reality hits. I am in the rain and now I must spend the remainder of my jog wondering if the banana notes in Belize Tropical Cabana will allow me to fulfill my deep desire of smelling like a banana Laffy Taffy. In my mind, I begin to muster up all of the motivational quotes that I have subconsciously stored in my brain from watching the nonstop Peloton ads I keep getting on YouTube, and I carry on. Aside from a few instances of my shoelaces coming untied, all was well and much less dramatic.

I sit on the floor of my closet, cringingly looking upon my obsessive collection of Bath & Body Works products. As I start organizing my collection, I realize that no amount of rearranging my small hoard of products is going to change the way I view it. In all honesty, I sometimes use an obsessive amount of product in hopes of accelerating the arrival of the day when I won’t have to look at them anymore. 

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, you can now catch me jogging around my apartment complex smelling like one of many Bath & Body Works gourmand scents, while repeatedly reminding myself to maintain my nasal breathing. Although it might come across as peculiar or unconventional, my hodgepodge of coping skills has contributed considerably to my mental well-being during the pandemic. Although the excitement of accumulating new products brought me happiness, it wasn’t sustainable. After all, if I kept up with the rate with which I was “investing” in my body care collection, I would currently be knee-high in body scrubs and credit card bills. On the other hand, although they’ve taken a bit more dedication (yet notably less money), jogging and nasal breathing have earned permanent places in my coping toolbox. Knowing that I have now formed two healthy coping mechanisms that I can rely on, I must now confess I feel comfort, peace, and very fruitful.     

Featured Photo by Curology on Upsplash


About Author


Audrey Merta

Audrey Merta is working towards her BA in Psychology from Antioch of Santa Barbara with plans to graduate in September. Originally from Michigan, she had moved to the Santa Barbara area three years ago to continue her higher education. After receiving her BA, she hopes to pursue her MA in Clinical Psychology. When she’s not occupied with school or work, she enjoys being with friends and family, baking, or spending time in nature.

Leave A Reply

Powered by themekiller.com