Six months into living through the pandemic and working from home hasn’t made my shopping carts any less weird, but as I settle into what everyone calls the “new normal,” I’m breaking some of my previous shopping rules and going beyond self-care to invest in what will truly make the day in and day out a little more bearable. Here are the things I bought that I would recommend.
My cabinet full of knock off S’well bottles from various networking events would tell you that I don’t need any more water bottles. But after using the Owala FreeSip for only a week, I’m never turning back. There’s just something about this water bottle that makes hydrating so easy—I’m consistently drinking more water than I ever have before. The built-in straw stays in place better than other bottles I’ve tried, and the water stays cold for more than 24 hours. I foresee buying a lot of these as holiday gifts later this year.
I’ve battled insomnia my entire adult life, going through phases where it’ll be hard to fall asleep for months on end. After running on an extreme sleep deficit for several pandemic months in a row, I decided to give in to the weighted blanket craze and did hours of research on which one was the right fit for me. Yes, this is one of the most expensive weighted blankets on the market. But it’s also the only one I found made for two people, distributing 35 pounds of weight across the 90″ x 90″ blanket, so my partner and I are using it as our duvet now. I don’t find it too hot, even on the warmest of NYC summer nights, and it’s not too heavy that I have a hard time sneaking a leg out for some air, as reviewers complained about with other weighted blankets. I won’t say it’s cured me of my insomnia completely, but it’s made enough of a dent to keep it around.
In the first few months of work-from-home life, I swore I wouldn’t purchase anything that wouldn’t be useful after I returned to the office. Since we likely won’t be back in the office until 2021, I still have four more months, at least, and I’m throwing the rules out the window. My workspace (a very small table) had notebooks, pens, sticky notes, bills to pay, and work calendars strewn about. Work and life were colliding in ways that it was impossible to stay organized and looking at the mess while I was watching TV on the couch was making me more stressed out. I really like that this desk organizer has five distinct areas for sorting things, so I can keep track of work and personal papers separately and feel a little bit more in control during an uncontrollable situation.
Gotta love a good impulse Instagram ad purchase. Mosquitos love to bite me, and, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s because I’m so sweet, as my dad has told me my entire life. I’m willing to try anything to stave off those pesky, itchy bites, so I figured these emoji themed stickers were worth a try. I don’t have any scientific evidence that they work, but I haven’t been attacked by bugs while wearing them, so that’s enough for me to stick with the program. And the plus is my 20-month-old best friend really loves to stick six or more on at once—for extra protection, I’m sure—so I’ll need to place another order soon.
When my Fitbit Charge 3 died after several good years, I felt like I was at a crossroads: I could stick with a basic activity tracker or I could upgrade to an Apple Watch. After hours of research, reading online reviews, and asking anyone who would listen for their opinion, I realized I didn’t have a reason to buy an Apple Watch. I was getting caught up in leaning toward Apple just because I have their other products. But in this case, I had taken notifications off my Charge 3 in an attempt to be less, well, notified. It just didn’t make sense to buy a product built to keep you more plugged in. I decided to upgrade to a nicer Fitbit product, and I’m really happy with the Versa 2. It’s the perfect in between: It does all the basic activity tracking stuff, but it also has some apps built in, like Amazon Alexa, so I can easily start a timer when I’m in the kitchen. My only qualm is it’s kind of a pain to change out the band, so you should pick one you really like. I went with an $11 gold band from Amazon to make it look a little nicer.
I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to read a book about all the things that can go wrong in pregnancy and birth when I have yet to do those things, but this book by Dr. Chavi Eve Karkowsky, a maternal-fetal medicine physician in New York City, wasn’t scary at all. Yes, there’s a lot that can go sideways, but Karkowsky puts everything in context and shows the full picture of the medical experience for expecting parents—good and bad. There’s been a slew of books in last several years critically exploring the healthcare experience for women, and Karkowsky’s take is one the best I’ve read so far. I sped through this; I could hardly put it down as she told the stories from real patients.
I never anticipated having opinions about face masks, but here we are. Before getting this recommendation from a colleague, I was buying masks piecemeal from Etsy sellers and various shops, but I hadn’t found one that I felt fit right. The Vida masks have adjustable ear loops and a metal nosepiece to ensure a close fit, and they have a pocket for a filter, which you can easily add to your order for $12 for five filters. I’m not a huge fan of the black outline on some of the color options, but there’s enough of a variety to keep me happy.
I had enough of dropping off important Zoom calls and listening to my partner complain about the lag during video games. I did research on WiFi extenders, called a few places, called our Internet provider, and eventually succumbed to an Instagram ad for Eero, a mesh-networking company now owned by Amazon. I liked that their system could be plugged into what we already had, and we could add onto it over time, meaning it didn’t require a huge investment up front. The customer service was fantastic: I emailed in a question over the weekend, but when I had follow up questions, I called their support number, and a kind and patient man walked me through what he recommended for my specific set up. It was delivered quickly, and I was able to set it up in less than 15 minutes. All of our devices easily reconnected to the internet, and we’ve seen considerable decrease in the issues we were having.
More must-read lifestyle coverage from Fortune:
- A new place to WFH: Las Vegas
- How to turn down a wedding invitation during the coronavirus pandemic
- Craft distillers have lost out on more than $700 million in sales because of the pandemic
- A guide to giving gifts for postponed and shrunken weddings
- OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder on launching a hemp-infused sparkling water brand