I’m an introvert as informed to me by Myerrs Briggs; I’ve had the same profile since I was in my teens, funny that but its typically true to my type and for the most part, a creature of habit who is also at odd ends of most everything. Whilst I love my own company, I enjoy the company of friends and family, my hum comes from being alone and being surrounded by loved ones. I am also fortunate enough to work for a company that has enabled me to work from home; to an introvert, this is HEAVEN, most week days I fantasise about the weekends laid up on my couch overdosing on TV; I watch way too much TV for my own good. So this time should be the norm for us, but even the consummate introvert can admit, this is a lot. To go from having the freedom to leave home, free of fear to the place where we are today; anxious of of the outside world is another level of worry nobody needs. Alas here we are. There are a few things I have employed to maintain my sanity and avoid incessant paranoia.
Pause and Feel: lie in when you want, don’t be in a rush to get up and go, take your time to feel whatever it is you are feeling; introverts tend to feel a lot I find, our minds wander into many places and in the quiet, behind closed doors, we are roaming into all the places and up the walls. So take your time and listen to your body, do not block out any feelings.
Have a shut down routine: working from home, one tends to work longer hours because it is always one thing, one more thing and then one more, before you know it you are on calls until eleven pm with other regions because you figure what the hell. Don’t do that. Work your nine to five and log off. Run a bath and luxuriate in the pleasures of an evening routine; that includes, but is not limited to, alcohol consumption of some kind, candles and background music.
Go to bed: in addition to the above, try to go to bed to get at least six to eight hours of sleep. It takes a while for my mind to go into shut down mode even when I’m in bed. I’ve taken to listening to Calms, Stephen Fry takes me on a journey through Provence, to some of my favourite villages, I don’t know if this helps or hinders my sleep progress but at some point in the night I drift in and out until I’m out. So try to get to bed to get enough rest.
Have evening plans with yourself: that means cook a nice light dinner on some evenings, not just microwave, make something easy but make it; The Scarlett pasta from Chef is a simple yet divine meal to cook, make a cocktail or a mocktail, sit down and eat. Turn off your phones, turn on the TV, and imbibe yourself in this time alone. Wind down.
- 1 whole lime halved
- 8 fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup sugar syrup (two parts water boiled. one part sugar: stir the mix until the sugar is dissolved. Once its done don’t stir it anymore)
- 1/2 cup white rum
- Put the sprigs of mint leaves In a highball glass, (this is not a highball glass but I am ignorantly assuming that the side bulges helps the drink along as a highball should. If not, its fine.
- Using a citrus press, squeeze out the juices in both halves of the lime: the citrus press releases the rind as well as the juice
- Add the syrup and rum to the mix, stir a little
- Add in one cup of crushed ice and swizzles to mix: the ice will not dilute the mojito rather it helps it unfold as you drink. I learnt that in my Masterclass
- top it off with two or three sprigs of mint leaf, et voila. Bottoms up!
Get out of your workout clothes: seriously please do. I am bad for this as well, I work out and roll right to my desk to work and before you know it its evening time and you’ve spent all day in your sweaty work out clothes. After your workout, have a bath, have breakfast no matter how big or small, formal or informal, full English or a pastry. Wear one of your summer dresses too. Who knows when we’ll be able to feel the sun on our skin again. So you have to get out of your workout clothes, shower, dress up, eat breakfast and then log on.
Step outside and breathe in fresh air: leaving the house these days heightens my paranoia, I find myself holding my breath and trying not to touch anything, avoid aisles with more than three people in it. Yet we are only human and being inside all day can do a number on you, even if its to take a short walk for a half hour, step outside your house and breathe in some fresh air. You are allowed to be concerned, but you are also allowed to breathe and imagine a time when this has passed.
Have a soundtrack to your day: music is a good medicine, have it playing in the background as you work, music lightens your mood and don’t be afraid to have solo dance parties. The soundtrack to Chef is a really good one. Yes I love the movie so very much
Make a list: I’ve started reminiscing about the things I’ll do, what I’ll wear, places I’ll go… when this is all over. Put together a wish list and allow yourself dream a little dream of hope. Go back to somewhere you have already been and see it with new eyes, travel back to the place you love and walk familiar roads that lead you to that special place that means something to you. Open yourself to the possibilities of what can be even in the space of the familiar.
You don’t have to make your bed: look I know this is unpopular advice, but you really do not have to make your bed if you don’t want to. I hate making my bed, I got in trouble in boarding school because of this fact and it is a bad habit that has followed me to adulthood. Even as a home owner, I don’t make my bed everyday, its tiresome and a chore I am not interested in. And have you tried changing your duvet or folding fitted sheets? Fucking hell! Yes, listen to your mother and make your bed, but don’t feel obliged to that’s all I’m saying.
Bake something: yes you totally should work that cliche; bake a banana bread, cookies, cake, whatever it is, bake something, anything. Baking is therapeutic, its levels of intimacy and a beautiful sensational smell in your kitchen and the satisfaction of a perfectly baked cake is beyond imagination. Trust me.
Here’s my banana bread recipe with pistachio paste bought from Saint Remy-de-Provence
- 1.5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup pistachio spread: you can substitute this with any spread: salted caramel, nutella etc.
- 128g unsalted butter
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 mashed ripened or overly ripe bananas
- 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla paste
- cinnamon or nutmeg if you fancy
- Preheat the over on 150C.
- Butter a loaf tin and set aside
- Combine the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl: flour, salt, baking powder
- Combine the sugar and butter together in a stand alone or handheld mixer, until its light and fluffy and pale
- Beat in the eggs one at a time to the batter mix
- Beat in the bananas
- Toss in the vanilla paste, cinnamon and nutmeg if you will
- Combine the mixture properly and stop just before you over mix, you’ll know.
- Pour half the mixture in the prepared loaf tin, add dollops of the pistachio paste and then pour in the rest of the batter.
- Bake for 55 minutes or until your pick comes out clean: mind however the mashed bananas might still stick but you’ll know when the batter is done.
- Now this is an optional step but you can add some butter to the warm banana bread to utterly knock your socks off.
- Alternatively for breakfast, you can toast a slice of banana bread and slather with butter; I prefer Lurpak
Pick a puzzle: a few years ago I bought a puzzle for my nieces, Beauty and The Beast, 1,000 pieces, apparently for five year-olds. Needless to say they never got round to doing it. I kept the puzzle with the intention of doing this myself and what better time than the present to do this. I did, it took me way too long and saw me become an even bigger night owl because it passed time and the more I got it solved the more I wanted to keep going. I completed it and realised there was one one piece missing, nine hundred and ninety-nine pieces later and a hole in one. Its a different kind of hurt. However, this morning I swept every inch of my apartment and found the missing piece stuck in a book. Of all places. Having found it I fixed the puzzle and there it was, perfect but then, I didn’t like the way it looked because I’d become fond of the puzzle as it was; missing a piece like an inside joke, a cliché so I’ve kept the missing piece and left the puzzle one short because sometimes in life things do not have to be perfect, they just are.
Check in with family and friends: I cannot tell you how fortunate we are to have family around us, for those of us who do; it makes a difference to be able to reach out to your people, through the grace of technology it has made the isolation a lot less… isolatory. (its not a word I know but work with me). Check in with friends too, we all could use someone to check in on us or check in on.
Hope these points help you in some way to adjust to our new normal and remember, you are safe at home not stuck; that thinking goes a long way to helping us see this from a different point of view, one that makes it a little gentler for us.
Also I should point out that I do not adhere to these points everyday but when I do them I have a more productive day even if the day is spent lying on my couch doing absolutely nothing because sometimes productivity needs a reset and that reset might just be staying still.