Small Pleasures Aren’t Frivolous, They’re My COVID-19 Lifeline


Mars Nevada
Digital Imagery Specialist

There’s always been a frivolity associated with being a listicle writer. It’s not “real journalism.” It’s been a source of guilt and imposter syndrome from a time long before there was a global pandemic raging on. However, during these times in which it seems like there is no escape from the onslaught of constant horrors in the news and the world, I find myself reaching more and more for “frivolous” pleasures, including listicles. I’ve written about radical pleasure before and the argument for and against material pleasures. However, I make no philosophical argument here. If you’re looking for discourses on escapism, you can find one here, here, and here.

For those just looking for some relief, here you go. Here’s a listicle about my unabashed small pleasures, my “desert island” list, and tools for feeling human in an inhuman situation.

Animal Crossing

We have to get this one out of the way. I have no nostalgic attachments to the game. Indeed, I don’t even have a Nintendo Switch, the console needed to play the latest release, Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I derive my pleasure from the free mobile app, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, which has few of the features of the full game but much of the same pleasures. Ian Bogost of The Atlantic waxed philosophical and political, calling it a “quiet revolution” and a “tableau of georgic calm.” I just think it’s ridiculously calming to let my avatar relax on the beach, listen to the waves softly washing over the digital sand, and sometimes catch a fish or other randomly generated sea creature.

OLLY Sleep Gummies

I have recommended these gummies in many a must have article before. However, I stand by their inclusion on my lists. After about 20 minutes after ingesting the blackberry-mint flavored chewy gummies, they feel like a soft pull on my brain to sleep, knocking me out for around seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. They also help enforce a normal sleeping routine for when it feels like you’ve lost track of what time even is anymore.

Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

With nowhere to go and no one to see, it’s easy to stop caring about appearances anymore. However, when I want to feel a bit more human or when I want “just to feel something,” I dab the Thayers toner on my face for a refreshing, rose-scented and hydrating cleanse. I follow it with the water gel moisturiser for a soothing drink for my face. Now, if only I could drink water more regularly, I’d be unstoppable.

“Vibe” Pack

I’m extremely privileged to work from home but it’s not without its challenges. I was never good at working from home or studying in my dorm before. I find the lines between my duties and my off-time tend to blur alarmingly quickly. When the need to stay at home as much as possible became more and more apparent, I realized I needed to develop a routine to demarcate where work and study began and ended. I call it “setting the vibe” and it’s helped me maintain my sanity, time-management and boundaries.


I light a candle before I start working from home and blow it out whenever I clock out. It’s a ritual that helps me be intentional with entering the work mindset. It’s also just a nice, calming touch that amps up the ambiance and helps you forget you haven’t seen your coworkers in real life in more than a month. The Mrs. Meyer’s cruelty-free soy and vegetable wax candles are an affordable pick that don’t have that soapy overtone most cheap candles have. They come in lavender, honeysuckle, and more.


I have intense anxiety and a global pandemic has not helped in the slightest with the symptoms. I find myself veering away from coffee and reaching for matcha more often than not. It still has a hefty dose of caffeine but I’m far less jittery and anxious after downing my prerequisite pre-work matcha latte (with chia seeds!) than I am after drinking a coffee-based latte. Maybe it’s a placebo? Maybe it’s not.

Mini-walks and Mini-Picnics

I may not be able to go out, but I can still go outside and it’s a blessing. It’s helpful to punctuate periods of working and studying with walks. I put on a podcast (usually 99% Invisible or Song Exploder) and take a couple turns around the neighborhood. My partner and I have also taken to eating outside in the grassy picnic clearings around our apartment complex.

NOTE: If you’d like to purchase any of the products, please don’t order them off Amazon or via delivery services like Instacart. Currently, both companies are under fire for making their employees work with a lack of safe conditions and protective supplies- and for too little pay. I recommend grabbing these items when you’re already going out for supplies.