The Student
Self-isolation, self-care? Who says you can’t glow indoors?

‘Have a few weeks inside’ Boris said. ‘Oh, how wonderful’ many of us replied. Day one of self-isolation brought great promise and opportunity for self-care: painting still lifes, reading Sartre’s most celebrated works, commanding a basic grasp of colloquial French. But two weeks later our greatest daily achievements are eating a whole block of cheddar or actually putting on underwear.

Self-isolation is very strange. Not knowing what will happen nor when, it all seems infinite, like a tunnel without an end. But loneliness blurs our vision, and when it recedes, we will see clearer than we did before. And loneliness is what happens when self-care fails.

That self-isolation has come now, in truth, feels like a sign. Our emotional crutches have been confiscated, and we are finding that the seemingly inane details of our lives are gaining a new significance. Hugging friends, £3 pints at the Pear Tree, conversations with strangers on buses. But constant stimulations, very often, are the destruction of our ability to look after ourselves. Countless times, in the immediate past, have we bumped a bit of healthy self-reflection off our to-do lists. Taking ourselves outside of George Square and Cowgate, putting ourselves inside somewhere else, is unsettling but it has high therapeutic potential.

But how and why? Tracksuits are the new uniform; wine is the new water; Netflix is the new Blackboard. The self-indulgent monotony of it for a short while is—granted—really quite nice. It is not, however, the long-term programme of self-betterment that many of us had in mind. ‘Time rich’ would be an understatement; we now have approximately five months with very few commitments (barring the sporadic deadline, of course). It’s time to rewire our institutionalised brains and think wow that’s pretty neat.

Let’s be honest. We all want to rise out of isolation like a gaggle of smoking hot phoenixes, prepared to see every one of our exes at once. You may be thinking ‘but what’s the point in getting ready if I’m sat in my house with my family all day?’ Well, there is every point. So, here is some practical advice on how to glow indoors:

1) Put some clothes on. Hear me out. Many of us have subconsciously created a lethargic morning routine: wake up, think ‘what’s the point’, put on a stained pair of tracksuit bottoms and get on with it. While it is a charming upside of staying indoors that we can neglect our appearance, doing so has a tangible effect on our motivation and mood. What is being created here is a self-fulfilling prophecy. In essence, we are underestimating the correlation between feeling and action, that how we look has a signficant impact on how we feel. Think about how amazing you feel in a power suit or your favourite knickers, for example. There is someone that cares how amazing you look, and that person is you.

2) Eat 5 a day, drink 2 litres of water. The NHS ‘wash your hands’ campaign has been great and alarming. It is alarming because we clearly need to be reminded of how to clean ourselves like a bunch of primordial baboons. But… it raises an important point. There are many things that we know we should be doing to function at our best but often forget to do. Drinking 2 litres of water and eating 5 fruit or vegetables a day are two good examples. Sometimes we need a reminder and let this be yours.

3) Meaningfully and consciously designate chill time. We’re so busy being busy that we make ourselves feel guilty when we’re not. Stop it. Don’t feel bad for waking up at 2pm or eating that whole block of cheddar. Just don’t do it every day.

4) Don’t underestimate the power of cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising your skin. As your biggest organ, your skin warrants some respect – wash it, exfoliate it, moisturise it. Use these few weeks to give your skin the breather that it deserves and wants.

5) Looking at online workouts is not the same as doing them. This was something of an unwelcome epiphany for me: watching someone do a squat does not equal doing a squat. There are so many brilliant online resources that help you get fit at home—the internet had to be good for something, right? Check out the wonderful @tonewithtobi (Instagram); she has so many accessible workouts with and without equipment, and top tips on getting fit. I asked Tobi her fitness and health go tos, and she said @libbychristensen (Instagram); ‘Tone it Up’ (app); and @fivesechealth (Instagram). Go and check them out.

Do things that make you feel good, even if no one is looking. Remain positive, fill your hearts with love and not fear, and of course, wash your hands.

Illustration: Erin Cole