I Tried the “Save the Day” Method, and It Changed the Way I Think About Self-Care

published Jul 8, 2024
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During busy seasons of life, I notice my day-to-day outlook lacks sparkle. From morning to night my obligations center around service to others, whether that includes career responsibilities, housework, pet parenting, or being a supportive partner. I’ll be honest — sometimes, joy is fleeting. And it can be really challenging to adjust daily habits once I’m in a groove.

Quick Overview

What is the “save the day” method?

Popularized on TikTok by creator Trina Merz, the save the day method is when you do one activity that brings you joy at the end of each day, whether that’s calling a friend or indulging in a little treat.

To make up for lost “me” time during these hectic spells, I inevitably fall into the trap of revenge sleep procrastination. But those hours staring directly into the blue light of my various screens exhaust me, and impede my ability to power through work, errands, and chores. Budgeting zero daily time for myself is self-sabotage. It’s just difficult to prioritize my own joy over sending a few work emails or stocking up on groceries. I need to pay bills and nourish myself … I don’t need to marvel at the wonders of life! Right?

Wrong, obviously. Happiness is kind of the whole point of life! So, to help restore self-care and delight in my busiest days, I tried the “save the day” method. Popularized on TikTok by creator Trina Merz, the purpose of the method is to plan one daily activity to “[reclaim] the day as our own.” 

In a way, this method echoes joybreaks, those brief, restorative bursts of self-care throughout the day. What appeals to me about this method, though, is the timing: A ritual to close the work day feels like a much-deserved reward. (I’ll forever be unpacking my compulsion to use productivity to warrant rest, but I digress.)

To get started, identify a handful of low-pressure, high-satisfaction activities that you can easily slot into your post-work schedule. Taking a long walk while listening to your favorite podcast, calling a loved one, enjoying an ice cream cone or patio cocktail, reading a few chapters of your book outdoors, ordering your favorite takeout, soaking in a luxurious bath, or completing a level in your video game are all examples to spark inspiration. There are also science-backed methods for strengthening those happiness muscles!

How I Tried the “Save the Day” Method

When I tried out this method for myself, my experience started off strong. I asked myself each morning, “How am I going to save the day today?” During a recent stretch of busy days, my “save the day” breaks included a headphone-free neighborhood walk; embracing my rush-hour drive home listening to Charli xcx’s brat album in full (a masterpiece, and the perfect length for a Lake Shore Drive commute); and grabbing my favorite summer treat, a cookie dough Blizzard. 

Credit: FilippoBacci / Getty Images

However, as the week trudged along I felt my old habits creeping in. My focus shifted back to work mode, followed by house chores, and ending with a TikTok-sponsored bed rot session. I was disappointed to observe how quickly I lost a grip on my intentions, slipping back into autopilot. 

When I did successfully save the day, my outlook improved, I was connected to myself, and I felt that main character confidence. I’ll be honest, though: It was hard to keep up. Just like deprograming autopilot, you have to train yourself to refocus. To really reap the benefits of this method, I need to find a way to stick to it. 

One crucial aspect of Merz’s method is that she conjured the practice with a friend — a built-in accountability buddy. This might be the “save the day” secret sauce. Try as I might to be self-reliant, my eldest daughter energy kicks in and suddenly I’ve organized our family trip, restocked the fridge, and groomed the dog, but I haven’t had a manicure in six months.

Based on my trial and error, I know the “save the day” method is promising. I’ll keep at it, incorporating additional daily joybreaks and an accountability partner. Ultimately, utilizing these time management concepts to promote daily self-care is one phase of a greater process of healing and rediscovery. With repetition and mindfulness, I intend to reprogram my autopilot over time to make moments of joy and self-care a daily priority.