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Normality in Uncertainty, CW: Coronavirus and its effects






If one thing is for certain, the last year has been anything but normal. The phrase ‘The New Normal’ is being thrown around in the media a lot recently. I really don’t like that phrase. It insinuates that this is what life will be like for the indefinite future - a life without face-to-face contact, no touch, separation from loved ones, fear of losing loved ones, fear of being culpable for someone else’s health, foreseeable isolation and chronic loneliness. While these are elements of life, they are not what life should be about. These mountains that we as a human race have had to overcome and adapt to over the past year have been monumental. It is truly testament to our adaptability that despite overwhelming change we have continued to live our lives as ‘normally’ as possible. I think us students in particular have been expected to carry on with university, something that is challenging in normal circumstances, without much compensation for the damage that such jarring change can cause. I hope you know that just by waking up in the morning and doing the bare minimum, you’re proving how much internal strength you have. This pandemic will end, and we will never take human intimacy, nights out, family, friends, good health and life for granted again.


In the meantime, before the blessed day comes where we can hug our mates again (that day will come!) here are some things to do to simulate normality;


Come Dine With Me nights


My housemates and I have been doing our own version of Come Dine With Me. Each night has been themed - so far we’ve had French, murder mystery, escape room and games night. For my night we all dressed up as the Cluedo characters (I was Mrs Peacock) and played a live-action game of Cluedo around the house. The (winning?) menu was baked camemberts with garlic bread to start, steaks and veggies for mains and churros with chocolate ganache for dessert. The games night was hilarious, I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. We played Sardines (like hide and seek but instead of everyone hiding, one person hides and everyone else seeks, and when you find the hider you hide with them), ’wink murder’ (a throw-back from GCSE drama - a person leaves the room and is the ‘detective’, the remaining players elect a ‘murderer’. Murders are carried out by winking at players, and the aim is to ‘kill’ as many people as possible before the detective catches you in the act), charades and Pictionary. It felt like being a kid again and I totally forgot about the stress of dissy and grad job applications. Give it a go, gang!





Listen to podcasts


I cannot describe the sense of joy and peace that listening to podcasts gives me. Having little voices in your ear laughing, having intelligent conversations, being raw and open and honest is both stimulating and relaxing. I think especially for introverts and those who love listening, it’s like having a chat that you don’t have to participate in. There’s a podcast for every mood, some of my favourites are listed below.


Laughs - ‘Lockdown Parenting Hell’ with Josh Widdicome and Rob Beckett, ‘Off Menu’ with James Acaster and Ed Gamble, ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’ and ‘Boners of the Heart’.


General interesting/funny/insightful interviews or chats - ‘Grounded’ with Louis Theroux, ‘Telling Everybody Everything’ with Katherine Ryan, ‘Guilt and Shame’, ‘Love Stories’ with Dolly Alderton, ‘The Guilty Feminist’ and ‘Table Manners’ with Jessie Ware.


Introspective - ‘Griefcast’ and ‘Happy Place’.


I haven’t included informational podcasts because I think it’s okay to do something purely to switch off and not learn anything. I am also aware that the lack of True Crime podcasts may be shocking to some people (I’m sorry!).


Movie nights


A classic. Whether you’re at home with your family, living with housemates or living alone, you can always have a movie night. Make some popcorn, get a blanket on the sofa, dim the lights (a crucial step) and work your way through your ‘to watch’ list. There’s a genre for every mood.





PowerPoint nights


A great way to stay in touch with pals! I’m sure everyone is familiar with the kind of friendship where you don’t talk for months, but when you eventually catch up it feels as natural and comfortable as ever. I am definitely guilty of opening a message without summoning the energy to actually reply to it for days. A trend on TikTok is creating PowerPoints to update your friends about your life, which I think is cute. It also forces you to pinpoint moments over the past year that are worth sharing, which is important when you may feel like nothing interesting has happened and the weeks all roll into one blur. This is a fantastic activity to do over Zoom, so grab your drink of choice and settle in for a night of catching up!


Exercise


I’m sure you’ve noticed the amount of runners on the streets has grown exponentially since prepandemic. I don’t need to go into the benefits of regular exercise, you already know about that, but with the gyms being closed a huge number of people have really struggled with adapting to life without that physical (and often therefore emotional) release. Others associate negative connotations with exercise, it can be really difficult to motivate yourself to move. Some gentle exercises are:

- Stretching

- Yoga (the app Down Dog is great)

- Walking

- Jogging (try the app Couch to 5K if you’re a beginner runner!)

- Skipping

- Hula hooping

- TikTok dances



Plants


Having a plant is like having a boring, immobile, independent pet. But they bring a bit of nature into your space, they filter the oxygen and provide some good Feng shui. Buying yourself flowers is the ultimate form of self-care, and having a little being that requires watering every few days gives us a sense of responsibility and purpose. Brighten up your room with a little leafy pet.


Read for pleasure


If you’re anything like me, reading is something that ebbs and flows. Finding your reading groove can be so tough, especially if you’ve become accustomed to only reading for course work. If you genuinely enjoy reading, then reading 5-10 pages before bed can be a really good place to start getting yourself back into the swing of it. Some books I’ve enjoyed recently are;

- The Body by Bill Bryson (non-fiction)

- The Princess Bride by William Goldman (fiction)

- A Million Years in a Day by Greg Jenner (non-fiction)

- Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall (non-fiction)

- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (fiction)

- The Sunshine Kid by Harry Baker (poetry)

- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (fiction)


Daily hugs


Something I’ve been doing in my household is daily hugs. A therapist once said that “we need 12 hugs per day for growth”. We are not getting anything near that at the moment, so every day I will go and hug my housemates. It’s a small thing but it’s an important thing! If you feel comfortable hugging the people in your household then I really recommend daily hugs. If you live alone, then you can dedicate some time every day to sit and be mindful and hug yourself (I know it sounds silly but it genuinely works!). I hope some of these tips come in useful. You are doing so well. Remember to reach out for help if things feel rough - no matter who or where you are, there will always be someone who wants to listen to you. Nightline is one of those points of contact, so feel free to get in touch!





Serena Shakshir,


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Roggers
29 mai

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