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Simple Self-Care + 2 More Things

Fall tends to be one of my craziest times of year—and I don’t even have children yet! This season, I began to notice some of the telltale signs of exhaustion. I needed to start taking better care of myself.

It was time to break out the list.

If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have said that exhaustion meant it was time for a vacation. But between schedules and finances, a grand vacation isn’t always the answer.

So last year I started a new exercise. Anytime something made me especially happy or full of joy, I wrote it down. Then I made a habit of trying to integrate these small things into my life more often.

To my surprise, the things on my list weren’t large or expensive. But incorporating them into my life has brought me joy even on my toughest weeks.

Here are a few of the things that are saving my life right now.

Face Masks

Confession: I’ve used the same moisturizer since I was in college, and I pretty much just wash my face with water. I’ve never been too concerned with skincare. But a couple of months ago I was cleaning out my bathroom cabinets and I found a stash of face masks.

They were the cheap ones—something I probably grabbed on a whim at Target. But that day I decided to give one a try and “Face Mask Sunday” was born.

Every Sunday I finish my meal prep, fold the laundry, and then the ritual begins. I light a candle, turn on some music or a podcast I’ve saved, and I make my selection. Whether it’s a sheet mask, mud mask, or some other type, I put it on my face and for 15 minutes, I just relax.

I’ve tried several types at this point, but I have two favorites: a cheaper option that smells like papayas and sunshine, and this splurge that leaves my skin all glowy.

It’s not even about the skincare for me. It’s simply about taking fifteen minutes to invest in myself.


This past January I decided to try a modified version of The Unread Shelf Project from The Ardent Biblio. The idea was that rather than buying more books, I would spend time reading all of the books I already owned.

As an Enneagram 4 and an ENFP, I struggle to do things I don’t “feel” like doing, and that extends to my reading life. I’m an avid reader, but I’ll only read a book if I connect with it on a certain emotional level.

Nevertheless, I wanted to simplify, and reading what I owned seemed like a great way to finally tackle my overflowing shelves. I made a list and started reading.

One of the things I hoped to do was reread a lot of my favorites. I’m not a huge rereader, mostly because it seems like there are always new, exciting things to read. But over the past few months I have started rereading favorites such as The Chronicles of Narnia, Persuasion, Wuthering Heights, The Hobbit, and even a few Janette Oke books that I loved as a girl.

It was exciting to meet those characters again, but what was more exciting was encountering different versions of myself. As I read Till We Have Faces, I remembered who I was the first time I read it—a 17-year-old girl just trying to fit in. I remembered who I was when I read it again at the age of 24, fresh off two years of overseas living and wrestling with my faith. And now at 27, I am again learning new and necessary lessons from these pages.


This may seem like a silly one. Everyone likes weekends! But for the entirety of our marriage, my husband has always had to work at least one day during the weekend.

Thanks to a recent job change, he now has those two precious days free. Honestly, it feels like a breath of fresh air. Together we are able to make plans to see friends, go on adventures, and simply hunker down and relax when the days have been hard.

For a dreamer like me, this has been a gift. It has reminded me of the importance of space. The importance of rest. The importance of making time to do the things that bring joy because honestly, that’s what our world needs more of—more space for joy.

What’s bringing you joy right now?

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Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Ana Bela Lopes

    Thanks for remember that…its the simple things, that come from the inside, that make us happy. Kiss from Portugal 🙂

  2. Claire

    Oh I LOVE Till We Have Faces! And thanks for the reminder that super simple things can make a big difference.

    • Emily Towns

      Isn’t it such a wonderful book?? I’m so glad you love it!

  3. John Mbewe

    this is fantastic

  4. John Mbewe

    good for my daughter

  5. Karen Chason

    I have started doing almost the exact same thing as you for self-care and masks. Late Sunday afternoons are my bathtub time. I have a jacuzzi tub that for 9 years I’ve rarely used. Like maybe only once or twice a year because it’s a pain in the behind to use it like a jacuzzi tub because the switch is on the opposite side of the bathroom. You have to be in the tub when you turn it on or water goes everywhere so you can’t get out, turn it on, get back in, relax, then get out to turn it off. So, after I get in it I just have to have my husband come in and turn it on then come back a little while later to turn it off. That’s annoying. So, I just didn’t use it. But I miss my bath time. So, I basically said eff it to the jacuzzi portion 3 months ago and just use it to soak. It’s not quite as large as I would like it to be as I can’t submerge my entire body at one time but I can do most of it. I light 4 candles on each corner of the tub, turn out the lights, close the blinds, put on a relaxing Spotify classical music playlist, put a mask on my face, neck, and decolletage, an intense conditioner on my hair, and then Zen out for as long as the hot water will last. Sometimes I read a book but I mostly just feel the music. I tend to go for healthy, safer, and non-toxic skin/hair care so I’m loving these currently: Juice Organics Repairing Hair Mask and for the face Josh Rosebrook Advanced Hydration Mask or Honua Skincare Moana Mask. Both are like moisture bombs to the face!

    • Emily Towns

      Oh, creating a playlist is a great idea! And I will definitely have to check those out, I’ve been looking for a good hair mask!

  6. Rachel Nordgren

    Sunday face masks are a big self-care ritual for me, too! I adore the idea of keeping a list…what a great practice!

  7. Essie

    Love these ideas. Unfortunately most of the sheet masks tend to irritate my sensitive skin. I tend to slap one of those masks on while relaxing in the tub 🙂
    My growing collection of unread books is another issue….
    Thanks for the suggestions!

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