As we settle into a second lockdown with the long winter looming ahead, looking after our mental health is more important than ever. We made it through the spring with sunshine and solidarity, but the chilly days and dark nights can make the isolation of lockdown seem even more daunting.
Rather than muddling through aimlessly, we have come up with a plan to combat this dread. Each week we’ll be publishing What We Are Doing Now, a series of suggestions to make your winter lockdown a more satisfying, cosy and jovial experience. Click here for last week's blog!
This is what we are doing now and these are your orders:
We will go analogue
We all know how smartphones have become a veritable dominatrix over our daily lives. Filling the breaks, quickening the pace, and bombarding us with information at all times and places - it’s truly tiring, but it’s also terribly tricky to know how to unleash ourselves from their omnipotent grip. We suggest giving your brain a breather by having an analogue day.
Avoiding the old dog and bone completely is sometimes unavoidable, but leaving it in another room is a good start. The trick is to find tangible pursuits to engross your attention - the kind of lovely wholesome things we did before the internet whirlwind took hold are ideal choices. Spend a slow Sunday listening to records or cracking out your dusty CD collection. Get lost in a novel whilst wrapped in a blanket on the sofa. Repair those so-loved-but-so-holey clothes you’ve missed wearing. Or perhaps you'd like to get crafty, learn how to knit, or finally make a scrapbook of all your old gig tickets.
Put the kettle on, enjoy your senses, and breathe in the space.
We will be playful
Remember when you reluctantly arrived at that awkward age when ‘cool’ took over? Your interests suddenly became ‘childish’; kaleidoscopes, yo-yos and She-Ra castles were carried off to the attic, you stopped collecting those once coveted gemstones, stickers, or pogs. Sunbathing replaced sandcastles, flirting took over from fancy dress, and the floor was rarely lava. Now we’re grown and much less worried about impressing our friends, is it not time to get playful again? One of the main tenets of The Dilettante is to encourage creative dabbling. So while you might not want to crack out actual toys, allow yourself to tap into the playful creativity we had as children. Next time you try something new, abolish the idea of perfection and let yourself be a beginner. Be silly, make mistakes and let your imagination run amok.
We will make fire
As the days get shorter and evenings are shrouded in darkness, twinkling lights and warm fires become an absolute delight. There is something enchanting and ancient about watching a fire burn. It links us with our ancestors, reminds us of our basic survival, and provides a hypnotic calm to get lost in.
We usually get our fiery fix on November 5th, but Bonfire Night events are unfortunately cancelled this year. Check out if there are any drive-in events happening in your area, or if you’re lucky enough to own a fire basket or chimenea - make the most of it! Grab some blankets, pour a brew, and spend a little time under the stars. Candles can be just as charming indoors, and the magic of sparklers will never expire.
Standard reminder: be safe not stupid.
We will feel rubbish sometimes
And that’s okay. Life is difficult for many people at the moment and there will be days when things seem overwhelmingly gloomy. Trying to lead a relatively normal existence in the face of a global crisis will not always go smoothly. It is not your fault. You are allowed to feel like an old worn out slipper and you are still worthy even when you don’t feel strong.
Let yourself lean into your feelings from time to time, but resolve to put a time cap on how long you allow yourself to wallow. Do something lovely for yourself. Do something lovely for someone else. We will get through this.
We will not forget to dance
Dancing is one of life’s great pleasures. When you really think about it, it is quite a rare and wonderful thing for us humans to abandon our mental faculties and go harmlessly primal for a while. Dancing scratches a special itch for many of us, and DAMN it has been too long since we were able to twist, gyrate, and shake in a room full of strangers. We must not forget to dance.
Shimmy when you get out of the shower. Hold a disco in your kitchen. Learn a hilarious routine from YouTube. Perplex your pets with your moves. Perfect your robot. Dance like there's nobody watching (because that’s probably the case) and if you feel silly all the better.