The Ritual Diaries is a bi-weekly editorial series where we talk to our favorite creators, experts, and change-makers about how they take care of themselves in a busy world. This week, we spoke to Jordan Risa, a Filipino-American and Los Angeles native who runs @seenlibrary, an online community for book lovers, and newsletter How to be a Woman on the Internet, which seeks to start conversations on tough topics surrounding social media and its influence on our behavior on and offline.
What is the first thing you do in the morning?
I check my phone. I know, I know. It’s bad.
How has your upbringing and environment shaped your understanding of wellness?
Growing up in an immigrant household, my idea of wellness was fairly limited and a lot different than it is now. My parents didn’t have the luxury of considering wellness in the way we’re told to believe it is today – workout classes, therapy, and all these products messaged to us as self-care. Instead, wellness was about love and support from family members. Wellness is about protecting and sustaining our physical and mental health, and for me, while that can be done through exercise and seeking help, it also means having a solid community and surrounding myself with supportive, loving people who encourage me.
What makes you feel your best?
Good people and good conversations.
What is the hardest part of the day for you—and how do you overcome it?
The hardest part of the day for me is honestly, figuring out the *why* of my work. Oftentimes working in social media can feel tedious and shallow and I constantly have to take pause and figure out if the projects I’m working on or things I’m taking on really align with what I want to do and where I want to go. Lately I’ve been slowing down on paid work to navigate what is really fulfilling for me and I’ve seen that taking time for myself and for personal projects like Seen Library and a new newsletter I’ve started with a friend have been just that.
Social media has been a big part of your life; what is your relationship with it and how does it fit with your values and goals?
It’s a complicated one. On one hand, it’s given me more personal freedom, financial security, and incredible opportunities than any job has been able to provide. I have made really great friends and have learned so much about various causes and organizations and I’ve been able to advocate them through my social media, as well. I genuinely love social media and the good things it has to offer. When used correctly, I think it can absolutely foster connection.
On the other hand, it can be very toxic—it’s full of unrealistic beauty standards, encourages excessive consumption, and can take us away from real life by instead being fixated on a little screen. I’m trying to re-think my relationship with social media at the moment… While I do use it to help me create a life I want and can be proud of, I see the ways I can set more healthy boundaries with it.
One way I’ve been trying to navigate that is through a recent personal passion project of mine. A friend and I have been working on a newsletter called How To Be a Woman on the Internet that talks about this fine line of social media use. It’s our attempt to encourage more conversations – ones that are honest and hopefully empowering – around social media and our relationships with it. We’ve worked in the beauty, fashion, and wellness industries in the past 10 years and hope our insight can shine a light on the things less talked about – things like aging (or the lack thereof) online and the game of buying followers.
What boundaries do you set for yourself for your own health?
I have been trying to prioritize my physical health in the past 6 months – I’ve never been one to workout and lately I’ve been taking it more seriously and now plan my day around moving my body, instead of the other way around, and almost never getting to it. I do the same with therapy – I don’t make plans when I have my weekly sessions. When it comes to working out, I also make sure to not weigh myself – it can be so easy to get caught up in what I look like or how many pounds I’ve lost (or not lost) and I don’t want to make exercise about that – I want to do it because it’s good for my long term health.
What is something you would like to see more of in the wellness world?
More people of color being recognized and put to the forefront. So much of what we see in the wellness world like yoga, matcha, gua sha, and meditation, to name a few, have been co-opted by white people for profit while Black, Brown, and Indigenous people have originated many of those ideas. Author Fariha Róisín talks a lot about this in her book Who Is Wellness For? I just ordered it and am looking forward to learning more about the health industry and how it’s appropriated and ignored people of color.
What is a ‘must-have’ product in your routine?
Elta MD’s face sunscreen, especially during these summer months. I’ve tried A LOT of face sunscreens and this one is by far my favorite and doesn’t leave a white cast.
What is something you look forward to everyday?
Winding down at the end of the day with a good book.
How do you reset yourself after a bad moment?
By taking a moment to process it, about how I reacted to it and why, and then resolving it by doing something that will put me in a good mood, whether it’s chatting with a friend or having alone time.
What is a ritual that brings you joy?
Reading in bed before going to sleep.
What would you tell your younger self about health and wellness?
That it’s not about how you look, but about how you feel.
What is the last thing you do at night?
Read. I always have a non-fiction and fiction book on my nightstand and I can’t sleep most nights without unwinding with a book in hand.