Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to do *everything*
Contrary to popular belief there are no seven circles of hell. There’s actually just seven rounds of lockdown, each one more interminable and stagnant than the last. Each helmed by a mob of increasingly negligent overlords. Think Rishi Sunak maniacally forcing discounted food down the gullets of the British public. Dominic Cummings driving round the M4 on an endless, forever loop. Boris Johnson one wet wipe shower away from fully disintegrating.
You get the point. Lockdown is hard on all of us. Not to mention if you’re a key worker, have dependents or live alone. Relationships get frayed, we can’t see loved ones, people get sick. What makes these periods significantly more stressful, though, are all those who frame lockdown as prime time to get “productive”. It’s easy, they say, with all their Paperchase journals, smelly pens, and keep cups. Just make sure you meditate from the second you wake up, learn a language and set up an Etsy craft empire from your bedroom floor.
“The fear of losing all of our rituals and safety mechanisms during the pandemic puts us into a tailspin and we defend this with the idea of being over productive. But the pressure to be creative can really make us feel like we aren’t good enough which is counter to good mental health” – Jodie Cariss, therapist
It’s something Jodie Cariss, therapist and founder of The Self Space, has experienced with her clients. “The fear of losing all of our rituals and safety mechanisms during the pandemic puts us into a tailspin and we defend this with the idea of being over productive,” she says. “But the pressure to be productive and to be creative can really make us feel like we aren’t good enough which is counter to good mental health”. Indeed, our productivity neurosis runs deep – let’s not forget that an octogenarian was quite literally awarded a knighthood for doing incessant laps of his garden during the summer lockdown.
So, before you sip from the ‘you have as many hours in a day as Beyoncé’ cup, here’s a list of actual things you can do (or not) to make this lockdown pass a little easier. And don’t worry, there’s not one mention of baking ba**** br***.
GET INTO (AND SEE RESULTS FROM) A PROPER SKINCARE ROUTINE
A month hunkered down is the perfect time to see visible results from good skincare practice. As functional or as indulgent as you want, it’s 10 minutes of the day invested into your wellbeing. Keep it minimal though: cleanse, hydrate, treat, moisturise, SPF. Oh and replace lighter moisturisers with heavier formulations so you don’t crust over in the blistering winter months.
Don’t bother spending a fortune either, it’s not necessary. The Inkey List is a good place to start (The Ordinary is probably sold out anyway). And, of course, there’s no point investing in your skin if you’re not using SPF everyday. Even in the winter. Even if you’re barely outside. This Purito sunscreen is a cult favourite for all skin types and skin tones.
GET EXPERIMENTAL WITH MAKE-UP
The last lockdown saw a boon in shaved heads, DIY dye jobs, and make-up trends as people sought creative release through their appearance. A deluge of TikTok content encouraged us to get more experimental with our make-up choices and cultivate some sense of belonging. But we were all dressed up with nowhere to go. Channel that energy into turning absolute looks once we get out in December. Just don’t judge Sally from HR when she pops up on your Christmas zoom party looking full Crystal Methyd. Need ideas? Look no further than our mask-friendly creative eye looks or fave Euphoria recreations.
Over the last lockdown complaints of ‘skin hunger’ began to surge online as we all became increasingly desperate for literally just the tiniest bit of human affection. Skin hunger refers to that (now all too familiar) longing for human touch. It’s a core survival instinct for all social animals and an itch that a nice candle and fancy loungewear just can’t scratch. How to combat this? Well, “there’s nothing better than self love” as Oloni, a sexual wellness content creator, puts it.
“Often we’re taught to put our pleasure in the hands of someone else but you should never stop learning about your body yourself”. “Use this lockdown period to explore by updating your sex drawer. My current favourite toy is a wand…you can change the speed and use it on different erogenous zones on your body” she tells us. Yep, just a touch of your self-love could go a long way this lockdown.
GO ON LONG, BRACING WALKS
There comes a point in lockdown when it genuinely just gets too much. Be it getting frazzled from constant push notifications, “these strange times” email openers or becoming near dissociative while doomscrolling Twitter. During these moments, there is something restorative about a brisk solo walk. “Walking helps because being outside in the air helps us connect to a bigger perspective of the world and it can help take us out of thought patterns and shake things up a bit,” Cariss says.
It frees us, albeit momentarily, from the “paralysed state which these uncertain times can make us feel”. And combining this with a podcast episode or two can be a great balm. Funmi Fetto’s podcast, On Reflection is a firm favourite and speaks on the culture of beauty in relevant, fun and intelligent terms.
It helps, annoyingly! Endorphins do just make you feel good. Dare I say it, couch to 5k is a really gentle introduction to running longer distances. If you don’t want to brave the outside though there are classic home workouts like Yoga with Adriene/Emi Wong or more immersive zoom classes like Jay Jay Revlon’s voguing workshops. Basically anything but Joe Wicks. Please.
EMBRACE THE POSITIVES OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Not to state the obvious but lockdown is an absolute misery on our social lives, isn’t it? One particular way is how it robs us of all those inconsequential, but still pleasant, day to day interactions. Those friends of friends you really vibe with but never got to convert into a standalone friendship, that one colleague you can always vent to, smoking area strangers. All vestiges of a much happier time.
Let’s overcome that sense of loss by seeking out lighthearted connections online. You know when you have one glass of wine and start replying to everyone’s story? That. Make the weird TikTok coffee that everyone pretends is delicious, chat to people on dating apps, foster existing friendships on social media. It’s no substitute for the real thing but it does make you feel a little less stranded.
SUPPORT YOUR INDIES
Unless you’re a billionaire or managed “to surprise your closest inner circle with a trip to a private island” over the past few weeks, chances are your finances have been hit pretty hard by the pandemic. Now might be a good time to think about the best places to spend your money. Obviously Amazon Prime can be a godsend, but there are alternatives with actual ethics. Think APOC store or bookshop.org – two indie companies born out of the last lockdown who’ve got you sorted for looks and books. In beauty, this gigantic list of Black-owned companies – across hair, body, nails, skin, and more – will give you plenty of inspiration for where to spend your coins.
DO NOTHING AT ALL
You don’t need us to say it. But just in case – it’s absolutely fine to not do anything even remotely remarkable. “There’s a lot of pressure to meditate and be mindful constantly, which can be very difficult and challenging, particularly if your mind is feeling over busy.” Cariss says.
Instead, she recommends checking in with yourself, naming your emotions and acknowledging your feelings – something she calls “radical acceptance”. “I wouldn’t put too much pressure on ourselves to be calm, just be with whatever you’re with”, she adds. So don’t freak if emails begin to pile, if your room becomes a state, if you can’t be arsed to reply to that group chat. It really is enough just to get through it.
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