Our ‘new normal’ unfortunately means that, for the time being, we may be subject to sudden lockdowns at any point. It never gets any easier, but for now, most of us can only do our best to make the most of a bad situation. Our usual routines, motivation levels, and general ability to concentrate are out the window. And how can we expect more from ourselves when there is so much uncertainty and looming threat to ourselves and our loved ones? It wreaks havoc on mental health, so much so that the Australian Government has coined an official term for it – Pandemic Fatigue. Symptoms include lethargy, lack of motivation, no longer being excited by things that once did. It’s a heavy burden, even for those who are enjoying some elements of keeping indoors (helloooo fellow introverts!).
We’ve seen mixed viewpoints from our community. Some business owners are understanding and nurturing, wanting to give teams as much time as they need to stay calm and rested. Others worry that their teams will get lazy if they don’t provide training or activities for them in lockdown. For therapists, many are struggling to engage with their teams or further training. Others are raring to go, even offering to do free training to keep costs down. Whether you’re a business owner or therapist, it’s a constant battle between being productive and motivated, and harnessing self care to stave off anxiety and ensure we are rested when we return to work. Or – can we somehow do both?
Today, I’m going to do a day-in-the-life-of, Sydney lockdown edition! As a Beauty Therapist, Dermal Clinician student, and owner of my own freelance copywriting business, I’ll share my daily struggles that many of you are going through right now, some valuable tips I’ve learned throughout my career, and some much-needed awareness around mental health. I’ve suffered from severe anxiety for years, and try to be an advocate for mental health in the workplace whenever I can. So without further ado, let’s get on with the day!
My alarm goes off at 7am. I always give myself permission to snooze – yes I’ve heard the advice to avoid this, but when it comes to mental health, you should do what works for you, irrespective of what others tell you you need to do to succeed. I allow myself about 30 mins of meditative me-time to wake up, every day. There are normally 1-2 very smoochie cats on my chest at this point, and I soak up blissful moments of deep breathing, stretching, warmth, cuddles, and serotonin-inducing purrs (it’s a proven fact!). I then check my phone, emails etc, then I’m up, get dressed, and head for the espresso machine, then onto my skincare routine. I’m feeling a bit barrier impaired so it’s a gentle Dermaenergy Cream Cleanse, Murad Revitalixir, Aspect Pigment Punch and Synergie Uberzinc, plus my EyeEnvy.
In the office, I light a candle, pop on Spotify’s Focus Piano playlist, and write a blog post for a client, taking a couple of quick scroll/message breaks throughout. Once I’ve sent off the completed blog, I check my spreadsheet where I map out my schedule – it’s taken me longer than planned, I’d scheduled watching a one hour dermal lecture from 10-11am and it’s 10.45 so I bump this off to the end of the day.
I go make the bed and my tummy rumbles, so I make some granola and sit down to watch the 11am press conference. I don’t always eat breakfast, but pay attention to what my body is telling me. We have hormones, receptors, and signallers in place for our tummies to tell our brains when we’re hungry. Eating before these kick in can disrupt these mechanisms and lead to weight gain and unhealthy relationships with food. I’ve scheduled a 1 hour break for the conference and to get the relaxation I like to have before switching from one job/client to another. Our Roomba also begins its rounds – one of my favourite ways of reducing my number of chores. I leave the presso, pump some happy tunes, put the dishwasher on, water my balcony plants, and do a craft project – covering my geode bookends in gold leaf!
12pm, coffee #2. I’m the Producer for industry podcast Inside Aesthetics, so I head into our weekly team zoom to discuss upcoming plans and calendar. One of the guys is running late so I use the 15min delay to open my mail (online purchases), grab my probiotic drink, and wash last night’s dirty frypan. Post-meeting I write some content, create some social assets, and feel myself waning/clinking aimlessly through tabs so I break for a 30 min lunch (leftover tofu stir fry).
A little more podcast content, emails, then it’s time for my 3pm exercise date with my boyfriend. After receiving an email about Archie Rose’s new Blasphemy Coffee Whisky, we simply had to try a bottle, and the distillery is just 3.5km away – and it’s a beautiful day for a cycle. It’s worth noting this is only my second or third venture outside in the past 7 weeks. I get so anxious I could cry. I live in Redfern – almost the city centre, where it’s so crowded it’s impossible to walk outside and not get within 2 metres of someone. Nearly every day someone says to me ‘make sure you go for a walk outside every day, the sun and fresh air will improve your mental health!’ Again: everyone doesn’t know you better than you. Do what works for you. And I can deal with the slight vitamin D deficiency later.
Home 4pm sharp as scheduled. Time to write a Beaute Industrie blog. But first I write myself a quick list of all my online purchases yet to arrive – a little reminder of what to look forward to! I also quickly respond to a message from my Lisa Rush team, pop a calendar entry in for the virtual AST training I have tomorrow with my Sanctuary Skincare team (which I totally forgot about!) and reply to some Australian Society of Dermal Clinicians messages, for which I am now on the committee for. There’s an amazing live Cutera seminar on social media with Kelly George happening right now but sadly I decide I’m too busy and will watch it on-demand later. I start to worry that I’m 25mins behind my scheduled blog-writing hour and then remember that it’s a self-imposed deadline and to not be so hard on myself.
Since I’m behind anyway, I decided I might as well create today’s social post for another of my lovely clients. By 6.30pm I’m done with work and it’s time for a 20min living room pilates session (Peaches online). I wanted to do 30 mins but it’s late so I compromised with myself. I have to push back thoughts of ‘if it isn’t 30mins, there’s no point’, but that all-or-nothing thinking is wrong. A little is always better than nothing. 7pm shower and skincare routine – cleanse, Gernetic Synchro, Mukti Vitamin B and April Brodie’s new SkinSculpt face oil. Snuggly pj’s on and I’m in the kitchen with a cold cider chatting with my man while he cooks – happy tunes in the background. The night finishes on the couch with my favourite series. I’ll get up early to watch that lecture tomorrow!
I’d like to finish by saying this was a good day. There are days I can’t muster the motivation to do anything, be it work or exercise. And I’ll blob on the couch, but I won’t be relaxing. And from what I’ve been told, so do most of us. You aren’t alone. All that advice “wake up early, exercise daily, stick to a routine” – quite frankly it’s crap, and it doesn’t apply to everyone, particularly if you’re struggling with mental health.
Here’s what a trained psychologist, not a wellness enthusiast or life coach, has told me: you don’t need a routine. If you feel guilty for not following your routine, don’t set one, take it day by day. If your plans change, that’s okay. If you don’t complete everything on your list, that’s okay too. Don’t punish yourself for what you didn’t do, celebrate what you did achieve. Don’t be afraid to share your negative emotions or perceived failures with others. Take lots of small breaks. And most of all – don’t be so hard on yourself! Stop aiming for perfection. Nobody else expects this from you, and nor should you!