Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leaving most of the world sheltering at home, I’d joke that I’d be so much happier if I could just spend more time at home. I put it down to being an introvert, a homebody, but now that I’ve spent a quarter of a year indoors, I’m learning that it was never about being indoors, it was about giving myself the tools, space and headspace to give a little more thought to how I was living my days. Whether that was having more time to spend with my family (whom I live with), or to live a less frenetic lifestyle that was quieter, slower, than the days I was spending in London, it truly amounted to balance. Just balance.
I know, I know, I bang on about time-blocking and managing your time to get the most out of your days all the time. But I’ve realised, through trial-and-error throughout lockdown, that time-blocking continues to be essential even when you’re not manically busy or having to fit things in between lengthy commutes.
Whether you’re working from home, are on furlough, or something else in-between, I think the general consensus at the moment is that our days are all feeling much, much longer. I’ve been using my Google Calendar to visually block in activities (including queue times for supermarkets!), my book-and-breakfast hour, work bookings, designated time to cook a fresh lunch (trust me when I say this is a game-changer!), workouts, walks, etc. which has helped to divide my days, but also work out whether I’m attempting too much now that I seem to have so much time.
The word sustainable is bandied about a lot, especially in 2020. Move it away from ‘clean’ connotations, and it simply means a way of living that has a minimal impact on the globe, and that can be continued for a longer period of time. Of course I’m not suggesting that we stockpile huge amounts of food, clothing, etc., but I do think it’s been a good chance for us all to understand what we truly need to get through week-to-week living. In our household, we’re buying more of less, and keeping to a few simple recipes eaten family-style. We’re investing in larger quantities of coffee, rice, and hand wash, refilling bottles and jars as and when we need them, and reducing packaging waste. It took a while to get here, but observing our everyday habits is what helped.
A more sustainable period
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I a) struggle with incredibly heavy, painful periods, and b) have been working towards the most sustainable period that I can have. And we’re getting there! Before lockdown, I’d be using products upon products just to manage a ‘normal’ (for me) period. Think: disposable heat patches, painkillers, tampons and pads, and period pants to boot. Yes, that’s what it took.
Now that I’m not leaving the house much, if at all, I’ve been able to experiment and see what works for me as an adult woman. And that’s a minimal selection! Now that I’m not so worried about the embarrassment of leaking on public transport or at work, I’m noticing that I can rely on my period underwear, and I’m trialling using a menstrual cup! Bettercup (gifted) is a new brand founded by the wonderful Ruth. They’re on a mission to ‘turn period care from a privilege to a basic human right’, and with every bettercup sold, one is given to a girl in need.
Checking in with friends & setting boundaries
Lastly, don’t forget to check in with friends! I’m guilty of being That Person who is pretty inconsistent with checking their phone, so this has been a struggle for me, but a quick message here and there to see how they’re doing or what they’re up to goes a long way. Not just for them, but for you! Set up video calls, send care packages or handwritten letters, and be mindful of how you’re each feeling. And in the same vein, don’t forget to set boundaries. In light of what’s going on right now with the global pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and your own personal goings-on, don’t forget to safeguard your own mental health and respect others’ boundaries too.
If you don’t want to join yet another Zoom call with your friends, politely decline. If you notice people constantly asking Black people for advice, step in and be the help. If you don’t want people sliding into your DMs, don’t feel bad about turning them off. Living mindfully begins and ends with you, even with everything else in between.
How are you choosing to live more mindfully, lately?