2020 has been a whirlwind. Many ups and downs for everyone. Mental health has struggled, friends and family have been sick or scared. Finding ways to pass the time has been proving difficult when things are shut down or you are trying to remain socially distant to protect loved ones. If you’re like me, you have become quite the online shopper this year. The more downtime you have, the less money you end up with in the bank. It’s okay, it happens. I decided to put my powers of spending money to good use and put together a list of the most practical things you should invest in to get through the rest of 2020.
Let’s start with something practical…
1. Learn about bleach substitutes.
Things seem extra dirty these days and after having guests over, we know it’s important to disinfect to avoid outside germs sticking around for too long. Unfortunately, that also means bleach has been harder to find than usual. It’s always when you really need to bleach out the toilet before guests come over that you can’t find any in the house, right?
Find an alternative clean! They are pretty widely available still. My favorite bleach alternative is LEMONS! They are a natural antiseptic and it smells a lot better. Mix the power of lemon with some vinegar and you are really in business. Vinegar is a powerful cleaner, especially with glass/mirrors. Unlike window cleaners such as Windex, vinegar won’t leave a film on your windows slowly over time, making it truly clean.
If you’re looking for the whitening power of bleach, baking soda is going to be your new best friend. It’s also great for lifting stains in laundry. Hydrogen peroxide does similar things and makes a great weapon against fungal findings in the bathroom and kitchen.
If you don’t like these stronger chemicals then give castile soap a whirl. It’s vegetable based, light, and safe to use all around the home.
2. Go for that extra subscription.
Which subscription? I’m not here to decide that for you. Your gut knows which one I’m talking about. The one you want really badly and have been debating for quite some time now. Maybe it’s a snackbox, or Fab Fit Fun. Maybe it’s a streaming service you’ve been seeing lots of great shows for you. With all the time we are spending at home or sitting in other people’s home, a new streaming service could get a helluva lot of use from everyone in the house. But this year has sucked enough already. If you have the extra cash or can budget it out from some other spending, GO FOR IT. Treat yourself to something that is going to make you feel better.
I’ve treated myself to more than one of these services. The best part is that for a lot of them you can do 3 months at time and switch it up later in the year. So I’ve gotten some vegan jerky for a few months, the Vegan Cuts snack box for the last two months and after finding out that I am pregnant, my mom decided to sign me up for the Eco-Centric Mom Box! It sends me a box once a month based off of how far along I am in the pregnancy. It’s been a huge pick-me-up. I’ve even been treating my dogs to subscription box! They are big fans of Bullymake, as it’s the only one with toys they can’t destroy. It comes with treats too- I highly recommend this one.
What’s next for me? Probably HBO Max. Honestly, typing this out has about convinced me to do it. Send help.
3. Loungewear you actually like.
This is a big one for those who have been trying their hardest to remain socially responsible but might need a little help with their mental health. Studies show that simply getting ready for the day helps relieve symptoms of depression, but it’s hard to feel like you’ve gotten ready if you’re not going anywhere. Plus who wants to sit around the house in jeans all day? NOT ME!
Investing in some loungewear that is actually cute is going to make a huge difference in your day. Feeling confident while feeling comfy is a feeling like no other. With the current state of the world, clothing brands have invested in coming up with new styles with some of the softest fabric. It’s little things like wearing something you like that can make you feel good about your choice to stay home.
4. A stylish face mask.
Okay, this one might seem silly, but hear me out. I think we have gotten to the point where we understand masks are here to stay, at least for a while. We also know you need to wash them regularly so having a couple is important. Also the more you wash them, the less your face is going to break-out, so aside from a public health standpoint, less zits is a good motivator.
We have established WHY a mask, now why a STYLISH mask? Because it makes it more fun to wear them. Again, it’s about mental health a bit here! Covering up your smile makes it feel like you’re covering up half of your personality. But with these trendy masks, you can still express yourself while protecting the immunocompromised. Whether you want to buy one or make your own, having a unique mask that reflects who you is going to make your depressing trip to the crowded grocery store better.
An unintended plus is that if someone sees you in your cute mask and isn’t wearing one themselves, they could be inspired to get one and wear it around. It’s vain, but it still contributes to the greater good!
5. Get yourself the comfiest blanket ever.
I love blankets. They are in nearly every room in my house and ALL get used. During this on-and-off quarantine season, we have used them more than ever! A day on the couch binging Netflix with your skype date just got better with this baby.
Seriously, I cannot recommend this blanket enough! Everyone fights over it on my couch. It doesn’t make you too hot in the summer but still does the trick in the winter. Doesn’t matter if you’re napping or lounging, a blanket can make or break how relaxed you are. Get one to match your living room and keep it out for everyone to use. If I’ve convinced you to buy this blanket, click HERE. I’m not sponsored. I just really love this blankie.
Side note: Good couch pillows are also recommended. Always get one stylish, one soft and one firm. Your life will be changed. (Okay, maybe that’s dramatic. But your ‘Netflix and Chill’ game will be seriously upgraded.)
6. Invest in house plants.
I cannot stress this one enough. House plants. REAL ONES. They are good for you. It’s honestly a pretty long list of reasons I could write a whole article on, but for this I will keep it brief.
First, they oxygenate the air and absorb the carbon dioxide that we exhale. NASA state that plants can remove around 87% of air toxins in just 24 hours. Owning house plants quite literally gives you a cleaner home. They even regulate humidity. You can read all about which plants do what and set up your little plant sanctuary to your specific home-needs.
In addition to your physical health, multiple studies have also found that being surrounded by plants reduces stress levels and boosts your mood. Some places have actually started incorporating these ‘green rooms’ where they fill it with plants and allow people to go study or plan out ideas in them. Overwhelming people performed better in these rooms. It’s the same reason lots of people love camping and hiking so much. It’s not because they love being eaten alive by bugs, it’s the mood stimulation they receive from being around plants.
If you don’t know where to begin, do a little research. There are tons of lists of hard-to-kill plants, which ones flower, smell good, clean the air efficiently- whatever it is you’re looking for. Then, go buy them! If you’re not one for going out and about these days, remember when I said go for the subscription? They have ones for house plant delivery!
7. Spend the money for healthier foods.
You really can’t invest enough in your health. Right now, when you are probably the least active you’ve ever been in your life, it’s EXTRA important to do this. Not only to avoid the covid-19 but this *new* sedentary lifestyle can start a chain reaction that leads to all sorts of long term health issues like higher cholesterol, diabetes, chronic fatigue, heart disease and the list goes on. Eating healthier foods are going to boost your mood and those energy levels to help you from getting stuck on the couch- not to mention providing a stable platform for your gut health.
A lot of people don’t know much about gut health but it is the building block to just about every health issue. It affects how you process sugars and fats, how strong your immune system is, even how you react to allergies. To read more about your gut health, click HERE.
*Good gut health has been proven to increase your ability to fight diseases, i.e. COVID!*
8. Gym equipment for the house.
This has been hard to come by lately. When it’s available, GET IT! Maybe your gym is opening, but unless your dedicated and had that lifestyle beforehand, going to the gym might not actually be in the picture for you. You don’t need me to tell you how important exercise is. Especially if you’re now working from home and no longer running around town or going bar-to-bar anymore. An easy way to get those steps in is with an in-home worth out.
Simply having your gym equipment in the house is a good motivator to get moving. There really is something to be said for out of sight, out of mind. If you’re looking at it all the time, you’re going to be more motivated to break it out. I’m someone who went to the gym every morning at 4am before the pandemic. Since all this, I have acquired quite the arsenal and I think I actually work out more now than I did when I was a gym rat.
Not to get back on the topic of subscriptions but… I do recommend the BeachBody program. It’s cheaper than a gym membership and has so many options no matter your fitness level. When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately nixed the idea of returning to the gym as soon as it opened to protect my baby from these new germs and protect my body from old ones that would make trimester one even more difficult. The next thing I did was figure out what workouts would be appropriate for maternity. Luckily, BeachBody made that so easy because they have multiple prenatal programs! For someone that is starting her 4 months in pregnancy, I am in amazing cardiac shape and still have decent muscle definition. I’m pretty proud and I really don’t think this would have happened had I continued doing workouts on my own at the gym. If you’re not pregnant, all this was just mumbo jumbo to you, so let me get back on task.
Something I didn’t have until a couple months ago was a yoga mat. I don’t actually do a lot of yoga, I prefer weights, but mats are also good for stretching. Stretching daily was not a part of my routine to be honest. Now that I see that yoga mat in the corner, I do it everyday. It is so important to keep the muscles fired up and limber. If you’re spending more time around the house, it’s even more so! Netflix and Stretch?
Long point, short. Get some gym equipment. It can be resistance bands, weights, dumbells or even just a yoga matt. Having it around is a little mental boost to get you to do what you should already be doing. Always invest in your health. ALWAYS.
9. Create a backyard you love to spend time in.
A lot of these ideas have been focusing on your time indoors. Maybe it’s because it’s 113 degrees today as I type this and going outside doesn’t sound like the treat that it normally is… but being indoors until 2021 is not the answer to your pandemic blues. I know going out in public is not something for everyone right now. You might not have access to a park nearby or a large outdoor complex to safely walk around in. Creating a space in your backyard you actually like is a great way to make yourself love going outside again!
We can’t all afford to splurge for a pool so I won’t suggest that even though it obviously helps on hot days like this! There are more affordable options to create your backyard oasis and bring a boost your sh*tty year!
Maximizing your space is super important. Take the take to measure out your space! Do you have covered porch? Should you invest in a covering first? Do you have grass or gravel? Make it aesthetically pleasing and not just full on “fun” stuff. Just like we eat with our eyes first, have fun with our eyes first too!
Start small, but don’t fill your space immediately to leave room for expansion. A nice planter with flowers. An Herb Box. Maybe just some nice chairs people actually want to sit in. Then expand out to the bigger pieces Like a fire pit, a putting green, Adding trees. For the best results for your dream yard, plan the whole thing first. Draw it out. Where you do want the big pieces? You might not be able to afford it all at once so start saving for those big pieces and grab the small ones here and there while you wait. Adding those flowers, the chairs, that little bit of color is already going to make a big difference in how you feel when you go out back.
10. This one is free! Join a Facebook group (or other online group) to entertain you from a distance.
I’ve been naughtily convincing you to spend a lot of money. I’M SORRY! So let me throw out an idea that is at no cost to you! Discussion groups! The internet is a vortex of shopping but it also also made being social during a pandemic easier than ever. I primarily use Facebook for this kind of stuff, but there are so many sites you can join based off of a hobby or interest. My husband prefers Reddit for his groups!
This might sound so lame but it has helped me feel connected this year. My favorite group I joined is a conspiracy theory group because it has given me HOURS of content and things to look up! It makes me feel like I’m a detective. I’ve also hopped into some art groups that inspire me to try new things. It really doesn’t matter what your interest is, type it into the search bar followed by “group” and I promise there is something out there for you on a platform you’ll enjoy!
11. If you’ve been going back and forth about a pet for years now, it’s time to commit.
*disclaimer, do not get a pet if you’re someone who can’t commit. Commitment is key. If you don’t find joy in being a provider, pet care is not for you*
Last but certainly NOT the least. You knew this would be on the list somewhere. The greatest gift this quarantine has been having my two dogs by my side. Working from home is so hard mentally but having their wagging tails and shining personality that couldn’t be more happy that I’m stuck at home with them has made this a lot easier.
Pets aren’t for everyone. If you can’t commit then don’t do this. The last thing an animal needs is to think it has a family just to be dumped somewhere. But if the only reason you haven’t gotten one yet is because someone else has talked you out of it, or previously you didn’t think you were home enough, or just didn’t think it was the right time… NOW is the time! You will literally never be home more often than this year. It’s the perfect time to train a new pup.
Not a dog person? Hey, nothing wrong with that. Cats need love too! Hell, get a cool looking fish if you can do the proper research to take care of them (don’t just buy it and let it die because you couldn’t bother to get a real fish tank.) There are so many adoptable animals that really do LOVE being a part of the family.
Research has proven time and time again those with pets (particularly dogs) are less depressed, have better health, are more active and live longer than those who don’t!
Make the last half of 2020 a year that you don’t look back on in anger or frustration. Bring some joy to it, or well, buy some joy into it. We have to create our own happiness sometimes and this year has made is hard for it to ‘come from within.’ Money can’t buy you happiness but it can help get you the tools you need to find it. I hate that truth, but it’s very real.
Has something helped you get through this year more than anything else? Let me know in the comments!