Many of us around the world are currently staying at home in order to protect the health of ourselves, our families and our communities. Last week the World Health Organisation launched a campaign #healthyathome to promote the different ways you can look after your physical and mental health during these challenging times. With the recent announcement of an extended ‘lockdown’ period for at least another 3 weeks, this is now more important than ever.
We are now into week six of home working here at Social and I have to be honest, it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster navigating working from home on a more permanent basis. We lead such busy lives. The pandemic has thrown us into a slower, more minimal lifestyle, and many of us are realising what’s important; it’s putting things into perspective. We’ve started to see what life can be like without being on a treadmill.
Joshua Fields Millburn, who is one of the founders of The Minimalists, believes that we have finally begun to understand that “an economy predicated on exponential growth isn’t a healthy economy – it’s a vulnerable one. If an economy collapses when people buy only their essentials, then it was never as strong as we pretended.”
When it comes to today’s coronavirus-enforced “simple living”, Milburn says that the most recent Minimalist movement which gained popularity following the 2008 global economic crash, could quite easily be happening again. “People were yearning for a solution to their newly discovered problem of debt and overconsumption”, he writes. “Unfortunately, over the past dozen years, we’ve once again grown too comfortable. But the enemy isn’t only consumerism now; it’s overindulgence, both material and not.”
He believes we are starting to ask those questions again; what really is essential? “Let us not waste this opportunity to re-evaluate everything, to let go, to start anew. The best time to simplify was during the past decade. The second-best time is now.”
It is so important (and now more than ever) to surround yourself with positivity, whether this is through your interactions and the people you are communicating with, or in the things you buy and the way we speak to ourselves.
Do the things that make you happiest – whether that’s a gin & tonic in the garden, reading a good crime novel, cooking those exciting dishes in your new Ottolenghi book, a Zoom quiz with friends and family, or joining in with BBC Radio’s Thursday morning sing along (and just listening to your favourite tunes).
Okay, so we are not in control of what’s happening. We’ll be stuck indoors for some time yet, and there is nothing we can do about it. Our lives have changed drastically, but we can control ourselves and how we adapt to the situation.
Try not to think too far ahead: every week is different, every day we are presented with new statistics and new advice. It’s important to just take every day at a time, try not to worry about when we will be out of this, and try your best to live in the now. Also, I would say limiting your news consumption is a great way to stay positive: for me personally this has worked wonders, as does generally limiting screen time (to only one Netflix series a week!) although I know this is much harder than it sounds.
So, try and think back to what Milburn said, take this period of social distancing as an opportunity to reflect on what is important, what really is essential. Try to think about what really makes you happy and focus on these things to stay positive. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else during this period – just because someone else on Instagram looks like they are Superwoman achieving all their home-schooling DIY goals doesn’t mean you need to; it’s okay to have bad days and it’s okay to have good ones.
Take every day at a time and if all you feel like doing is sitting in your PJs and eating chocolate that’s okay too! This new norm won’t last forever, but make sure you’re focusing on the here and now, and what will keep your personal mental health on track (not anyone else’s) to get the best out of this situation.
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