How To Stay Home: Part One
Updated: Jan 29
I've spoken quite openly on this blog and on Instagram about struggling to come to terms with the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic; not just where travel plans are concerned, but on our mental health, our livelihoods and our ability to simply enjoy a normal and carefree life. But I'm very keen not to dwell on the dark side of all this any longer, because it just isn't helpful or constructive for anyone - myself included. So this will be my last word on the subject, once Part Two is published anyway...
Here in the UK we're into our fifth week of lockdown and still, too much of what I've been seeing and reading online is focused on using all this time we have to be "productive". There was a quote circulating a couple of weeks ago that I found especially insensitive, denouncing potentially vulnerable viewers as "lacking discipline" if they don't come out of self-isolation with new skills, more knowledge or their own business (!) In case anyone needs reminding - this is an immensely stressful, worrying, disruptive and traumatic moment in world history. In the midst of a global health crisis, is it any wonder we're not exactly bulging with motivation!? There are kinder messages to be putting out there.
Many of us will have mornings where we can hardly peel ourselves out of bed, let alone harness the energy to start learning something from scratch. So please, please, don't feel like you should be spending your days doing anything other than simply getting through it! And that will mean different things to different people: some will get through it with daily (socially distanced) exercise; others through baking, or learning Spanish, or reading an entire library of books. It could just mean staying in your pyjamas all day, watching back-to-back films and scoffing entire reduced-to-clear Easter eggs. Or it could mean any combination of the above depending on how you feel on that given day. There is no right or wrong here; there are no rules. Apart from staying home, obviously.
So if you were expecting a list of home workouts, healthy recipes and handy life hacks in this How To Stay Home article, I am so sorry to disappoint you - but I am not your gal for that. This how-to guide consists of one item and one item only: do whatever you need to do. Not what anyone tells you to do, not what you think you should be doing - just fundamentally taking it minute by minute and being led by your instincts. If you want to engage in a bit of living-room yoga, be my guest. If you feel empowered to colour-coordinate your knicker drawer, knock yourself out. If you'd rather have a duvet day, go for it. Whatever you choose, do it because it works for you - because it's a welcome distraction and/or because it makes you feel good.
Personally I have been mainly lounging in bed; worrying about giving myself a DVT from too much lounging in bed; buying new pyjamas because I've worn my existing pairs into the ground these last few weeks; watching telly, reading, cooking and walking; having virtual lunch dates, pub quizzes and drinks with family and friends; playing Monopoly and picturing the day we'll finally be able to travel again. In between all that, I have been navigating A LOT of emotions - ranging from anticipation, to indifference, to impenetrable melancholy and frustration. Last week, for instance, was a real humdinger of a low. It's taken a box of 'black cherry' hair-dye, some hefty carbs and a couple of chilled beers to get me feeling more like myself again.
This blog was a fairly new project for me when the virus and subsequent travel bans struck, borne out of unequivocal wanderlust and a possible existential crisis. I was full of excitement and ideas then, looking forward to the adventures I had planned over the course of this year culminating in the achievement of my '30 Countries Before 30' goal by January 2021. Within the space of a few weeks, my plans lay in tatters as trips were cancelled, planes were grounded, and travel became a distant dream.
But it is a dream I am clinging to for dear life. As well as hiding in my pit and piling on the pounds, I have spent hours in lockdown travelling as best as I can from home - sometimes without even realising it! Through the films I've chosen to watch and the books I've chosen to read, the meals I've chosen to make and the music I've chosen to listen to, I have been unknowingly travelling the world.
Which gave me the idea for a different kind of how-to guide: How To Stay Home (And Still Travel). So stay tuned for Part Two, where I'll be sharing some of the things that have helped me vicariously explore Earth from the comfort of my flat. Spoiler alert: there will be references to Toto's Africa, risotto-making, and Colin Firth...
Until then, stay safe and be kind to yourself.