We're nearly 5 months into lockdown in the UK. My usual place of work, the theatre industry, was one of the first to close, and we have no time frame for when we may be back at work.
Having been forced away from the hustle and bustle of working life, here are some positive things that lockdown has taught me about self care.
1. That the hustle isnt always worth it.
Before lockdown my life was very busy, as I'm sure is the case for lots of people. I was working full time for an interior designer, working at a theatre backstage most nights every few weeks, and had dreams of turning my craft into income. I also suffer from Endometriosis, which is an often dibilitating illness that I had to just work through every month despite the pain and fatigue. And even with all of that going on, I found it very difficult to say no to more work.
Being in a forced state of pause has given my body time to rest, and its taught me that I need to consider my bodies needs before charging into work again. In fact, as I have started to pick up bits of work I have very quickly noticed when my body is suffering again, such as needing naps more frequently, or not being able to manage pain as well.
It has also taught me that realising this and reacting to it does not make me weak. Just because I'm a night owl, not a morning person, does not make me lazy. Just because a 9 - 5 working week doesnt suit me, doesnt make me any less of a hard worker. I hope that the world will have changed somewhat to realise that everyone is different, and we don't all march to the beat of the same drum.
Finally, although I've been separated from my family for most of lockdown, I've had some amazing quality time with my boyfriend. Due to us both working in the theatre industry we never got this much time together before lockdown happened. It's been brilliant having evenings in, cooking together, working on our house and appreciating the space that we have.
2. To appreciate my face without makeup
Now, this sounds trivial, but can we just talk about how liberating not having to worry about make up is?? I always hated cramming it into my morning routine and having to take it off at night. I still put some on if we're going out, after all I do love lipstick, but I'm no longer worrying about looking put together before showing up on instagram stories, or popping to the shops.
*Having said this, make up is a wonderful fun thing, and anyone who finds comfort in using it, you do you! Not saying everyone should stop using make up, I've just loved being at home and not needing to.
3. That "self care" cannot always be achieved in an evening with a bubble bath.
I've always had mixed feelings about self care. On the one hand I like taking time to have a bath, do my nails, chill out for a bit. But on the other hand if I'm busy I find it very hard to switch off. I get a busy brain and that gets in the way of me being able to de-stress. The time I'm taking for myself feels like time that I could be spending on getting things done.
There's also the times when a bubble bath just won't cut it. When you're feeling particularly bad and none of the classic wellness tips seem to help. For me I've had to find parts of my "work" that I can use as a kind of self care. For example I invested in a Positive Planner (not a sponsor, I just like them). It has lots of prompts and pages to fill out in the diary, as well as colouring pages! I love doing my diary and getting my thoughts out onto paper, so this is a fun way to do that without it feeling fully like work, or that I should be doing something more productive.
My boyfriend and I have also taken up painting by numbers. It satisfies my need to be creating something during my down time, but it's something we can do together. And now we have an awesome gallery wall of pieces that we painted together in our lounge.
I hope that whoever is reading this has managed to find some positives in this crazy, crazy year that is 2020. And remember, be kind to yourself and others.