In the past 5 months, for a lot of us, life has changed completely without us even realising it for most of the time. At the beginning, we were just thrown into this new norm without knowing what was known and unknown. We were just told, to stay at home. There is nothing you can do for the pandemic, is there?
Personally, I always enjoy staying at home as much as I can. Social life such as drinking at bars at Friday night is not usually my thing. I'd rather have a glass of wine lying on sofa netflixing. So, being asked to stay at home really shouldn't be difficult for me at all.
That being said, I felt bored. So bored. Especially in the first month of lockdown. All I did was playing Animal Crossing for 14 hours a day and building my dream island called 'kitten'. That nintendo switch game to some extent fulfilled my desires of becoming an interior designer and living on my own island. I know I know, that's just a game. But there was not much going on in reality, so I resorted to a different dimension of this world to find some satisfaction.
The reality is, I missed human. I missed drinking with my friends at city square; I missed grabbing a burger and cheese fries from Shake Shack without having to worry whether I've washed my hands for 20 seconds; I missed summer 2019 when we could just camp outside at Wimbledon stadium, drinking champagne, waiting to get our tickets for tennis.
But life goes on. And everyone knows social distancing will be the new norm for the foreseeable future. I found, finally, and thankfully, bunch of meaningful things that really help me getting through this difficult time. And some of them have become my habits; and some really transformed my views of how I should live my life. Strangely, as depressing as this corona pandemic is, my mental well-being has been better than two years ago.
So, I want to share with you things you should try, if not already, that would help to reduce stress and remain productive in your journey of personal growth.
1. Learn something
How many days did I spend lying on my bed watching meaningless youtube videos and wondering why I still felt unhappy and tired? After spending days trying to rest like this, I never felt relaxed or more energetic.
Your brain needs some challenge trigger to feel the energy and satisfaction. Remember you always said you wanted to learn how to paint once you had the time, but you were too busy to do it? Now you have the time. Why not take an online class and learn how to paint?
My full-time job was in finance (not anymore, I'm a Hakonier now!). Although I always have passion for many other things such as art and interior design, I never thought one day I would get into artificial intelligence. I signed up Coursera (an online platform where top universities offer free classes) and took whatever classes I found interesting, from AI, to psychology, to music production. And I ended up spent almost 2 months on Coursera on a daily basis for 5 hours a day. And guess what, I got great satisfaction from being able to learn something that were previously so out of my reach!
2. Share your thoughts for movies/shows you watched
Yes, I admit that I searched on google 'must see movies' and went through the lists and picked everything I hadn't watched. For anything I liked, I recommended to my friends & family and they watched it too. And we discussed, chatted, laughed, and found some more to watch. This seems to be something natural to do. But we actually didn't do this as often as we thought before. Social distancing is such an odd thing that although we cannot meet, we ended up sharing more experiences and feelings just because we actually paid more attention to each other.
3. Decorate your home
Since you are gonna spend so much time at home, it's time to really make it a place you would want to spend a lot of time in, and make it a gentle and comfortable place.
Conduct the 'spark joy' assessment on all your stuff (surely everyone's watched the Marie Condo Netflix show?), tidy things up, when the clutters are away from your way you will find a clearer mind and greater connection with the place you call home.
Choose items that are functional and decorative, and will work in harmony with everything else in the room. Don't say things like you do not have the eye for interior design to do this. You just need to look at your home with fresh eyes every morning, and you will be able to make real connection with this place and find inspiration.
Hakoni's unique, quirky and fun storage selections will help you find both decorative and storage solutions for your home
4. Look fresh and stylish no matter where you are
When at home, I could get really lazy, really really lazy. Forgot to comb my hair or brush my teeth in the morning, and grabbed and put on whatever clothes that happened to locate near me.
That made me feel bad about not looking after myself. So I decided to try and keep a fresh look all day no matter what. I became very strict on my personal care routine in the morning; I took out all the casual clothes I bought but didn't have time to wear before (it was surprising how many of them are there) and made sure I carefully select my outfit (when I said outfit, it was the hoodie in Hakoni's homedrobe collection and a lululemon jogger really) even if I wasn't going out. It probably took me an extra 10 minutes per day to do these, but the feeling of taking care of and loving myself gave me a sense of well-being which I badly needed in this time.
Take a look at Hakoni's casual wear collection Homedrobe to find the perfect pieces for your casual looks.
5. Have a DIY spa night
Spas are closed. That sucks. I really missed the time I could pop into my favourite spa in central London and pamper myself. But I learned making myself a DIY spa wasn't actually that hard.
I bought some Korean sheet facial and foot masks from Selfridges; Some bath salt and bath oil from Boots; A 'pomegranate noir' candle from Jo Malone. I spent no more than £50 for these lot. But these can give me a daily personal spa experience for more than two weeks at least. So it was well worth it!
I was never a gardening person before the lockdown. My garden was all decked in my house because I knew I didn't need to grow anything in my back garden. But lockdown changed my whole mindset about gardening. It was not just hugely exciting, but also kept me sane and gave me that bit of zen I needed. And in fact by carefully choosing the plants you then do not have to be super skillful in gardening to keep them alive. I recommend getting plants from Patch because they not only have a lot of plants to choose from, they tag the plants that are easy caring or pet safe, and also post videos about how to care for each plant they sell. I found it super helpful for someone like me who is so new to plant care and gardening, and have cat at home who likes to eat leaves!
7. Bake something
Let me guess, you probably experienced some difficulties buying toilet rolls and flours at supermarkets during the first couple of months of lockdown? I definitely did. As a result everytime I placed my supermarket order I tried to get some flours. Subsequently I found a way to make use of those flours, bake.
Of course I started baking was not just because of excessive flours. Baking really is a great therapy to reduce stress and way to spend time with loved ones. My favourite recipes were banana bread, French dark sourdough, Chinese steamed pork bun (my secret recipe that I will share later:P).
So, that's my list. This is definitely a very different summer. I found some new inspirations that move my life to a new direction. What have you done? How are you holding on? Let me know!