You know how you see something you like at the market, but then you hear an outrageous price and realise you don’t like it like that?

That’s how adulting has changed how these Nigerians think about self-care and their guilty pleasures.

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Joseph, 31

I used to take myself to a high-end restaurant immediately salary entered. It started when I got my first job in 2013 with bukas. Then I moved to fast-food spots and proper restaurants as my money grew. 

I started living alone in 2018, and increased responsibilities shook this tradition, but I kept at it. My breaking point was when my rent increased from ₦800k/year to ₦1.6m in 2023. No one told me to budget first before anything else. I still spoil myself sometimes, but I do it with sense. High-end restaurants are now once in a blue moon.

Charles, 35

I love taking road trips. Since 2019, my idea of unwinding has been driving four to five hours from Ado-Ekiti to Lokoja to spend the weekend at least twice a month. Sometimes, I spend my time in Lokoja with relatives. Other times, I stay in a hotel and only come out in the evenings. 

Since the fuel subsidy removal in 2023, I’ve only been to Lokoja once. A trip that typically cost me ₦15k – ₦20k fuel to and fro now costs ₦25k just to get to Lokoja. It’s not sustainable. I encourage myself by reasoning that the kidnapping situation has worsened, so I shouldn’t do road trips anyway.

Anu, 31

For a long time, my idea of self-care was trying out continental recipes I found online. It’s my way of travelling the world without actually travelling. But I’ve hardly cooked anything new since I started having kids in 2018. My children are picky eaters, and I hardly have time between taking care of them and working to even consider making extra meals. I only get to satisfy myself when they’re away on holiday.

Jen, 28

Food was once my go-to when I was stressed, bored, or sad; it made me feel better. But my metabolism is no longer what it was. At university, people always wondered how I could eat so much but stay skinny. Now, I can’t even breathe near shawarma if I don’t want to add 2kg. 

My new form of self-care is exercising. I’ve been a regular gym goer since 2022, but my gym just increased their fee to ₦70k/month from ₦50k, and I’m considering doing my exercises at home instead.

Ima, 24

Ekpang Nkukwo is my favourite meal, and my mum made it almost every week when I was growing up. She’d also make it when she noticed I was unhappy, and I associated the meal with feeling better. Anytime I was on holiday from school, I’d call her on my way home and ask her to prepare it. 

I started living alone in a different town because of work in 2023, and I thought I’d make the meal every weekend to congratulate myself for surviving the week. I’ve only made it once since then. The preparation stress no be here. Sleep is now my way of making up for a stressful week.

Jesse, 33

Since I started earning reasonably well in 2020, I’ve taken one full month’s salary a year to splurge on something I really want — mostly electronic gadgets. But I couldn’t do that in 2023 because of wedding preparations and my MBA studies. It doesn’t look like it’ll be possible this year too because I now have a family to consider. I’ll probably have to settle for splurging a small percentage rather than the full salary. 

Ella, 26

Sleeping in during the weekends was my way of spoiling myself until I had a child in 2023. I make up for it by bingeing old movies to de-stress. And I try to squeeze in power naps as often as possible. Hopefully, I can resume sleeping in when my child gets older. Sleep is life.

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