A collaborative piece from Lifestyle’s editors and writers about what motivates us to get up in the morning, what keeps us sane throughout multiple lockdowns and what we’re looking forward to in the coming months.
Karishma Balasubramanian: Lifestyle Editor
I like an early start so I wake up at 7am every morning with an existential dread that I sometimes choose to shake off by dancing to Springsteen, or nurture by dancing to The Cure.
If I’m feeling especially indulgent, I will read a short story from Fitzgerald’s Flappers and Philosophers or eat breakfast that is not just a mug of coffee. I think what keeps me going in lockdown, apart from old Gregory Peck films, is constantly doing small tasks which help give me momentum for bigger and more time consuming things. I have also learnt to make a mean Martini which comes in wonderfully handy! I am a disaster in the kitchen, but when I am not setting potatoes on fire, I can make ‘Pindi Chole’: a curry made from boiling chickpeas with tea and aromatic spices, best served with naan or roti.
A place I have always wanted to go to is Japan. Hello Kitty World, fluffy cheesecakes, futuristic museums, singing toilets and doing karaoke in a pink wig are a small portion of my massive to-do list. I am fascinated by the culture! I have heard that cities in Japan, no matter how busy and crowded, are still really quiet which blows my mind as someone who grew up in cacophonic Bombay. Some light entertainment that has gotten me through lockdown is an extensively timetabled Colin Firth marathon! And that is my lockdown in summary.
Iza Horbaczweska: Lifestyle Writer
Having broken my blind a couple of weeks ago, what wakes me up every morning is the sun… ah, nature. The days when I’m met with blue skies I bounce out of bed, excited to loop the Meadows and bump into as many of my friends as possible. Yet, on those far too frequent grey days, I burrow into my duvet and try to telepathically send a message to my flatmates to bring me a cup of tea in bed… it works about 20% of the time.
Although lockdown life has felt a lot like Groundhog Day, the one thing that remains ever-changing is the meals I’ve been cooking and eating. Whether that’s a packet of salt and vinegar crisps for a hangover breakfast (unbeatable) or an Ottolenghi feast, planning my next meal has provided me with consistency in the last year. Therefore, it may be unsurprising that my holiday fantasies for summer 2021 revolve around food and drinks I will hopefully get to consume. I’m dreaming of Aperol Spritz’ in an Italian square, tapas picnics from a Spanish supermarket or even a diet exclusively of gin and Jacob’s crackers at a British festival. Until then I’m poring over my collection of recipe books and planning the spread for the eventual reunion around a dinner table.
Maya Sargent: Lifestyle Writer
I like to start my lockdown mornings slowly as I love the early morning hours (and breakfast!), but I will try to be at my desk for around 9:30, as my concentration span rapidly diminishes by mid- afternoon.
I have spent 2021 living at my parents house in Cornwall, a blessing for my peace of mind, a curse for my social skills, so when I say “desk”, I really mean I force everyone off the kitchen table, scatter it with miscellaneous papers, and claim it as my own from Monday to Friday. I like to keep busy, I love having passion projects and channels for my creative thoughts. I’ll easily drink about six cups of tea whilst I’m working. I like having an excuse to abandon my work, disguising my procrastination as dehydration, but tea truly is my elixir of life.
During lockdown, I go for a walk every day, I have found spending time outdoors drastically improves my headspace; lockdown has encouraged me to slow down, something I found difficult to do pre- Covid, so for that I am grateful. I love cooking and always make dinner for my family, often something wholesome and comforting: risotto, curry, soup. My haphazard culinary wizardry is always accompanied by a podcast, most recently Off Menu, which is so addictive. For me, I can’t wait for post-lockdown life to be filled with dinner parties: big groups of friends and lots of food and wine. I can’t wait for life to feel animated and colourful again.
Ellie Bye: Lifestyle Writer
Lockdown ‘routine’ feels like an oxymoron; every day is paradoxically monotonous and void of structure. The most reliable part of my morning ritual has been my daily marmite fix after convincing myself for an hour to get out of bed. The rest of the day is spent sliding between various tutorials and punctuated by frequent cups of tea.
Throughout these gloomy months, baking has been my main source of therapy. Is it stress baking? Potentially. But it feels like a good coping mechanism when there’s a big slice of cake waiting at the end. My favourite has been a glorious sticky toffee pudding cake from Edinburgh’s own Peter Bakes. I make sure to do my daily 10000 steps, burning off the abundance of cake I consume…but mainly hoping I bump into the local celebrity himself.
Continuing this pensioner theme, I keep myself occupied with plenty of books (I am an English literature student after all). Predominantly, I have loved the comfort of books I have read a thousand times and watched their TV adaptation even more (Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice, need I say more?). Whilst on the topic of Jane Austen, I’m hoping for a Pride-and-Prejudice-esque summer. Currently, I have no fixed plans, but as long as I’m outside, I’ll be happy. An appearance from my own Mr Darcy would make it the dream summer, but that’s as likely as the seemingly invincible Prince Phillip biting the dust. For now, I’ll be looking forward to June 21st, and making excessive amounts of tea.
Gina Norris: Lifestyle Editor
Both a blessing and a curse, I’ve been an early riser for as long as I can remember, so I make the most out of my morning motivation. Truthfully, I owe a lot of my productivity to a hot shower, a brisk 30-minute walk around the Meadows and at least two cups of coffee. As it’s my final year here in Edinburgh, I’m trying to make the most of aimlessly wandering the city whilst I still can.
Although uni comes with an inevitable lack of routine, for me personally, it’s been vital to have some kind of structure, especially throughout multiple lockdowns. Without that sense of direction, I find myself easily lost (and I really don’t have time for that right now). However small or seemingly futile, I plan out my days and always leave time in the evenings to wind down. At the moment, I’m reading Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club which is my fifth novel of the year and so far, so good whilst simultaneously watching the entire Harry Potter series which at the ripe age of almost-22, I should probably have already done by now.
I’m currently trying to find that balance between having something to look forward to this summer, whilst protecting myself from having my hopes dashed – what I do know is that, I stay motivated and keep myself sane by keeping my friends and family close, even if virtually, and reminding myself that what lies ahead can always be better than today.
Karuna Rahman: Lifestyle Writer
It’s been difficult waking up in the mornings this year. Nothing gets me up anymore. Last September I’d wake up at 7am and hit the gym; now, I just sleep in on most days and then regret it.
Unlike most people (read: the media) who, throughout Covid, have embraced (read: rebranded) being lazy in the name of “self-care”, I still feel bad about lying in. Ironically, I’ve noticed when I do wake up early, I feel much better; the crisp morning air just hits differently, and having a routine lends a sense of control, which helps a lot.
So, I feel bad because I could’ve felt good…but I have other ways of surviving this pandemic: tried and tested for nearly 10 years (boy, that makes me feel old) Good Mythical Morning on YouTube never fails – not so much the more recent episodes where Rhett and Link are eating weird food (which is what they are probably most known for), but episodes from season one to seasons five/six, where really, it’s just a lot of stories from their lives and their opinions on different topics. It is so wholesome, comforting and familiar to me and they always manage to cheer me up no matter what. Another thing that helps a lot, at least for me, is keeping active. I try to run around the Meadows, do some video workouts, hike up Arthur’s seat – the endorphins are real.
Olivia Fallon: Lifestyle Editor
A morning routine that I can adapt to suit each day makes such a difference for my motivation. I always pick an outfit that makes me feel good, even if I don’t have particular plans. I eat a hearty breakfast (avocado on toast with poached eggs is my favourite) and clear my mind with a quick walk. However big my workload is, I know the quality of what I produce and the energy I bring to tasks is always that much higher after the endorphin boost a glimpse of the outdoors gives.
Throughout winter I’ve loved making soup as it’s so simple but leaves plenty of room for experimentation and always results in a wholesome lunch. I’m definitely a recipe adapter when I cook, so things like curries and salads that I can add my own spin on will always be my go-to. I missed out on a mini European tour last summer so I’m still bitter about that… the Greek islands will always be top of my list – they have the perfect balance between picture-postcard scenery, delicious food, fascinating historical sites, gorgeous beaches and that blue blue sea. It makes me sigh just to think of it.
I’ve survived lockdown(s) on a constant stream of old thrift flips, thrift hauls, and fashion upcycling Youtube videos from channels like bestdressed, StealTheSpotlight, Vintage Thirsty and moya mawhinney (although these only seem to remind me of my longing for the charity shops and vintage sales to reopen). When I want a little taste of the big wide world we’re all shut away from, I turn to vlogs by Jonna Jinton, who documents her idyllic, but challenging life as an artist living in an isolated hamlet deep in the forests of Northern Sweden (trust me, it’s breathtaking to watch).
Eden Kersse: Lifestyle Writer
Lockdown has been difficult. By now I think everyone is tired of Covid-19 and are counting down the days till the (hopeful) reopening of the UK and more importantly, pubs!
During lockdown, I realised my form of self-care is seeing my friends, going to coffee-shops and just being outside. So, obviously, with lockdown not allowing that, I had to find new methods. Here are two things that have been getting me through it…
Up first are podcasts. I think the reason I enjoy podcasts so much is the informality. It feels as if you’re there having the conversation. My favourite podcast, Crime Junkie, explores the cases of unsolved murders. I realise true crime is not for everyone, but I love it. The presenters, Ashley and Brit, are great! The show is dramatic, suspenseful and funny too. Their hour-long episodes are something I look forward to. If you enjoy shows like Criminal Minds or NCIS, I think you’ll like this.
My second favourite thing to do is paint-by- numbers. I possess no artistic ability at all. It’s easy and it soothes my ego as I feel incredibly talented by colouring within the lines. (Did I mention that I’m a geography student?) It cost me £10 on Amazon and took me hours to complete. It was wonderful. Just sitting and painting, not even having to really think about what you’re doing, is nice. It offers a distraction and gives my brain a break.
Emma Gill: Lifestyle Writer
It’s easy for the days to get monotonous, with one blending into the next and little to differentiate them. In January, I found it really hard to motivate myself. Amid lockdown 3.0 and the Covid chaos, it all felt a bit pointless. But I managed to get myself out of that funk and I thought I’d share how.
Firstly, I start the day with a Yoga with Adriene flow – aka the queen of online yoga. Whether it’s five minutes or thirty, it sets me up for the day ahead and leaves me feeling empowered, inspired, and energised. Next, a big bowl of porridge with all the toppings – peanut butter, granola, cacao nibs if I’m feeling boujee – and a cuppa tea or coffee, depending on my mood.
Being a morning person, I try to play to this and get some work done then – wearing my new blue light glasses, which have definitely helped with the screen headaches (but I couldn’t tell you if it’s genuine or placebo). Lots of you can probably relate when I say that my daily walk and podcast have become a sacred ritual in lockdown. My favourite pods at the moment include Off Menu, How To Fail, and The Creative Key. Fresh air, good chats, and a bit of exercise… the perfect way to break up your day and clear the brain fog. Other than that, it’s just about taking it day by day, setting myself manageable to- do lists and keeping in touch with my friends.
Susanna Smith: Lifestyle Writer
I sit at the desk in my room to study. Its chipped and white and its legs are on wheels so I push it up to the window and look at the daylight while I work. Sometimes I look down into the web of shared gardens where people sit on fold out chairs, drink from flasks or smoke cigarettes, and watch the kids playing on their tricycles. Even from the third floor, I can hear them talk and laugh through my thin windows.
Other days I look straight out at the trees which are bare now, and don’t chastise me for sitting in my room alone listening to podcasts about people who have suffered real tragedy to appropriate some of their sadness. These days, I also only listen to sad playlists and watch TV shows that sort of romanticise the ennui (High Fidelity on Amazon Prime is a really good one). I make big pots of soup or pasta and share them at the kitchen table; I walk around the park with takeaway coffee; I try to read, to smile and to remind myself that this won’t last. Maybe I’ll even miss it, somehow, when it’s over.
Zara McKinlay: Lifestyle Writer
For me, lockdown life was transformed by my unexpected discovery of mornings. Pre-covid, the hours before 10am were totally unknown to me, but the realities of returning to my family home to do my year abroad remotely meant I had to adjust to a whole new rhythm. At first I attempted to squeeze in exercise, food, a podcast and beautifying myself all before my first zoom, convinced I had to make the most of my day as so much of it was so consumed by my internship. However, my inner night owl firmly rejected this, and since then my mornings have been slow and peaceful. I now love this small window of calm at the beginning of the day, and I have found a few sacred rituals that make waking up that much sweeter.
Small things like listening to the gentle chatter of the radio and curling up with a cup of tea before I hop onto zoom, have replaced the university hubbub that used to define my mornings. So basically, I am a pensioner now…but that’s fine by me! I have definitely cemented my new identity as a Grandma by my newfound obsession with book podcasts and fluffy jumpers: the ones I have been reaching for the most are, ‘You’re Booked’ by Daisy Buchannan, ‘Woman’s Prize for Fiction’ and ‘Broccoli Book Club’. All in all, my lockdown life is about embracing the day-to-day, and resisting the urge to do everything at once – tomorrow will come!
Image: United Nations COVID-19 Response via Unsplash