Practicing self-care is more important now than ever before.

A woman holds out a bright yellow flower as an act of self-care.
A woman holds out a bright yellow flower as an act of self-care.
Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

“Make it a great day,” my friend Kristen’s voicemail says.

Notice, not “Have a great day,” but “Make it a great day.”

Some days, we may effortlessly have great days, but her take on it is that we can do everything in our power to make it a great day. Over time, I’ve learned to agree with this sentiment.

Granted, it’s not always easy, especially with all the new Covid-19 updates being thrown at us 24/7:

You can get the virus through the air.

You can’t get the virus through the air.

You can jog or bike without a mask.

You can’t jog or bike without a mask.

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Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

Hello, Hidden Baggage followers & readers!

First and foremost, thank you for being here! We’ve “unpacked” a lot of stories since we launched three weeks ago, and we hope to unpack a lot more as time goes on. So keep sending in your submissions (more on that below).

Although there are a few main Hidden Baggage categories, nothing is off limits (within reason).

Your reading cheat sheet:

— For Mental Health Monday, we talked about the importance of practicing self-care (even in unexpected moments, like unclogging a shower drain).

— On Travel Tuesday, we took a trip to a local park in Prague — after all, you don’t have to go far to see someplace new — and also read Alice Toneatto’s account of what she learned about the UK while living there. …

Instead of focusing on getting to know someone new, I’m using this time to get to know myself.

Woman standing with her arms outstretched, feeling happy and free.
Woman standing with her arms outstretched, feeling happy and free.
Photo by Fernando Brasil on Unsplash

For the first time in a long time, dating is the last thing I want to do these days.

Pre-pandemic, I dated more often than not, so when quarantining became the new norm, I thought I’d be the person juggling multiple Zoom dates per week and was excited by the prospect. But a series of dating misses quickly dissuaded me from even having virtual dates: a guy acquaintance wanted to “have virtual drinks” one weekend, then disappeared; a guy friend — who felt more like a fake boyfriend — ghosted; and a dating app guy who said he was fine with a video date, but then insisted we meet in a park instead — early on in the pandemic, when everyone was encouraged to #stayhome — unmatched me when I said I preferred the former. …

Who knew fixing a shower drain would be so therapeutic?

Water going down the drain in a black-and-white tiled shower.
Water going down the drain in a black-and-white tiled shower.
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels

Self-care comes in all shapes and sizes — and I never expected it to come out of unclogging my shower drain. And, especially these days, we have to take all the self-care we can get.

When people say they’re bored in quarantine, I always wonder how: Despite being severely underemployed (after having lost most of my writing jobs due to the pandemic), I still feel I don’t get enough things done each day. I mean, just yesterday alone, I wanted to write more, work on some passion projects, update my online writing portfolio, the list goes on and on …

And to spice things up, some DIY home projects have kept me fairly busy lately, too: a broken refrigerator, a clogged shower drain, and a clogged sink drain. …

Use your jealousy for good, not evil.

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Image for post
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

While some people say that feeling jealous about a friend’s success is common, it can also be detrimental, depending on how you act toward each other. Yes, some friendly competition can be healthy, but I think it depends on the people involved.

Let’s say you and a friend both apply for the same scholarship. You both really need it — tuition for this grad school program is expensive — and scholarships are being given out to several applicants. You get it; your friend doesn’t. Or vice-versa.

If you were the one to not get it, wouldn’t you still be happy for your friend? I’d be thrilled for them. In fact, a friend of mine just applied for a loan and encouraged me to apply even though I had no intention of doing so; I was not approved whereas she was … for $14,000. I was ecstatic for her, not jealous or resentful. Plus, remember, I’d hesitated applying in the first place, as I knew I didn’t meet all the loan qualifications, so not getting it was fine with me. …

The sooner you implement these strategies, the sooner you’ll start saving.

Woman at desk writing down expenses.
Woman at desk writing down expenses.
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

A “free” trial can often cost much, much more if you forget you signed up for it. But there are ways to not fall victim to paying the price.

After all, it happens to the best of us: We see an online class, membership, or streaming service that we have to have — or at least try out for “free” for 30 days. Soon, it slips our mind; before we know it, that “free” trial ends up costing us hundreds of dollars.

But those days are gone. If you implement the three strategies below, you can start saving money right now and put it toward online classes, memberships, or streaming services you actually want to keep once the free trial period ends. …

Sometimes, a small, unplanned moment in our day can teach us the biggest lesson.

A duck nest in a serene pond in Prague, Czech Republic.
A duck nest in a serene pond in Prague, Czech Republic.
Image by author.

If we don’t have hope, what do we have?

Traveling used to be my life. For the past 3+ years, I’ve been a digital nomad: I lived out of a suitcase and country-hopped around Europe every 1–3 months. I’d walk up ancient stone steps of castles in Sintra, Portugal one moment and swim in Dubrovnik, Croatia’s perfect-blue Adriatic Sea the next. Of course, not anymore.

With traveling at a standstill due to the pandemic, we need to take what we can get — safely, of course. …

Mental health, money, work, travel, and relationship stories

Stack of vintage suitcases.
Stack of vintage suitcases.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Hidden Baggage aims to be a publication all about things we may keep, yep, hidden in our lives … at least till now. I mean, like it or not, we all have baggage, and we hide some pieces of it, so to speak, better than other pieces.

This brand new publication will focus on four main areas — Mental Health, Travel, Money/Work, and Relationships — as well as Free-for-all Fridays where no topic is off limits (well, within reason). …

From bullet journaling to practicing self-care, these methods help me curb it.

A woman practices self-care and relaxes on her bed.
A woman practices self-care and relaxes on her bed.
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Taking care of our anxiety and mental health can be challenging … and when you throw a pandemic into the mix, even more so.

Go to the grocery store?

Nah, I can eat rice and pasta the rest of the week … or month … or year …

Meet a friend for a nice socially distanced walk?

Nah, a mask-less stranger may breathe on me (quickly making the walk not-so-nice).

Get up early and do a Zoom workout?

Nah, I’d rather stay in bed. (Possibly forever.)

Anxiety can overcome us when we least expect it, especially these days. Things we never before feared — like making a quick trip to the grocery store — are now monumental decisions. …

A lesson in self-love: Being kind to ourselves is important, yet easy to overlook.

Bouquet of pink flowers.
Bouquet of pink flowers.
Image by author

“Be kind to yourself,” my late grandma used to always say, advocating self-care before it was a mainstream concept.

In retrospect, I understand now she was presciently wise.

Like many people these days, I dread having to leave the house for essential errands, whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or doctor for a lingering mystery pain I’ve been having.

What if someone’s not wearing a mask?

What if they cough or sneeze?

What if their cigarette smoke blows my way and they have the virus?

While I used to go out wearing a ski mask, it’s now getting warmer here in Prague — where my digital nomad self happened to be when lockdowns began — so the ski mask is getting to be a bit much. …


Natalia Lusinski

Digital nomad/journalist/editor with words in Business Insider, Lonely Planet, etc. Submit now to the all-new Hidden Baggage: :)

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