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The storm before the calm

Finally, 2021.

I have recovered from my New Years Eve hangover, nursing myself with Disney movies, a filthy deep fried takeaway and a horizontal Bridgerton binge (obsessed, yes). Although I am now feeling much less regretful of the champagne, and much more able to leave the flat for 20 minutes of dwindling daylight, I am also much more aware that we are now in January, in lockdown.

January is usually a little miserable I think. We have less money, because we gave in to the sensory overload that is last minute online next-day-delivery panic buying. We’re bloated because we ate 500kg of cheese over the course of a week, paired only with a handful of crackers and six bottles of red. We’re severely lacking in vitamin D because UK sunshine is at a premium, which also means we’re pale and tired and irritable.

This year things are of course much worse. We’re still bloated and pale, and now surrounded with unnecessary stocking filler tat. But this time we are also trapped inside, unable to lean on our typical January plans, like dinners with friends, fresh commitments to the gym, cozy first dates and Saturdays spent browsing the January sales.

We instead have to continue to adapt, like we haven’t had to do enough of that already and oh my god if I have to arrange another music-less disjointed virtual drinking session (which I can imagine feels very similar to herding feral cats) I will crawl under my duvet and stay there until March.

And of course, we have to go back to work. Back to the constant onslaught of emails and WhatsApps and Skype messages; repeated and increasingly terse ‘you’re on mute’ comments; the intense examination of grammar to understand whether that bloke in finance is pissed off or just too busy to type properly, in response to your third email about that thing you needed last month.

I am sure there are a bunch of people out there just itching to get back to work, because they’ve run out of nifty ways to entertain their kids indoors, or box sets to binge, or creative projects to start (but not finish). Until of course, parents realise the schools and nurseries aren’t going back for a few weeks, and now all they can picture is the thankless torment that comes when one has to assume the role of employee/parent/part-time teacher.

In amongst this dark and limping chaos, we have to somehow, and in ways not always clear to us, take care of ourselves. This means different things to different people, but is nevertheless easy to forget when having to constantly split our focus between the apocalyptic drip feed of pandemic news, potential job insecurity or job stress, the mental state of those we live with, and perhaps - for a lot of people - a new pet.

So if you’ve been thinking of new and elaborate ways to take care of yourself (like veganism perhaps, or a cult-like 30 day challenge, or even dry January if you’re brave) I am here to burst your bubble. On some days you will either wilfully forget about these elaborate plans, or you’ll wake up with only enough motivation to wash your face and sit at your desk, before crawling back into bed in the evening. And that’s okay.

Taking care of yourself will look differently each day. Just remember to be kind to yourself, whether you’ve done what you promised you’d do or not. Kindness and patience and wine will pull us through this storm. Juice cleanses will not.

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