As if the illness alone isn’t enough, coronavirus is also going after our mental and physical health, relationships, careers, economy. It has restricted our freedom and wrecked our healthcare systems. But we have fought back: communities have united, funds raised, businesses supported, medical staff applauded and those at risk assisted. Technology has never been more appreciated and despite the efforts of coronavirus, we continue to stand together in saying “Physical distancing not social distancing”. So how do we keep our individual moral high? How can we maintain a sense of calm amid the chaos?
There is in fact no scientific evidence to prove the benefits of a bog standard ‘detox diet’. According to nutritionist Kerry Torrens, “our bodies are designed to repair, regenerate and detoxify themselves” and detox diets actually compromise our body’s own ability to detox. And if you want to detox as a weight loss tactic you may be deceived, with “most dieters putting weight back on when they return to normal eating patterns”. An authentic detox means ridding yourself of stress and negativity; that means getting up early and getting up late, taking part in an exercise class and taking a day off, calling a friend and enjoying your own company, eating your greens and enjoying a glass of wine - while admiring @connellschain, no less (see: Normal People). It’s about balance, moderation, recognising that you only live once so not depriving yourself of some cake, while also acknowledging that over-indulgence in said cake won’t benefit your one life.
Elizabeth Gilbert, renowned author and mental health advocate, stated in 2019 “my actual job in life is managing my mental health”, a notion we could all use during this current period. We need to really look after each other right now, yes, but that doesn’t mean we should skip out on the self-care. If you’re wound up at home, now is the perfect opportunity to really sit with yourself - for good or bad - and work on your physical and mental health. That doesn’t mean pile on the pressure to ‘change’ yourself and do good, but to reflect on what will aid your own wellbeing both now and in the future.
We’re hardly self-care specialists, more avid players in the Game of Life, who tend to wing it. Take from us what you will. But what we have found to benefit us may, perchance, benefit you. So, we have rounded up our favourite methods of ‘detoxification’ that we hope will encourage your safety and sanity during the coronavirus era and beyond.
If you haven’t already, give your skin a breather and refrain from using makeup. Spend the time typically spent applying cover-up applying a DIY face mask or scrub instead – pair coconut oil with coffee grains, rich in anti-oxidant properties, for a quick and effective exfoliator.
When it comes to hair, good things really do come to those who wait. Let your Barnet get a little unruly during the lock-down and skimp on the shampoo or better still, leave it out entirely. Our hair contains natural oils which, when left to their own devises, are more nourishing than any chemical-containing product. This may be futile if you’re constantly travelling on germ-ridden public transport through a polluted city, but the landscape from behind locked doors is a little different. Push through the grease and you’ll look and feel brilliant post-lockdown.
Why shave? Perhaps this issue should be addressed in an detailed essay rather than a lockdown detox article but nonetheless, why waste your precious time shaving? Detox yourself from the chains of society’s gender roles, let your armpit hair flow free, and spend your spared minutes admiring @connellschain.
“No s***”, you say. But cleanliness is severely underrated. Like a walk, the mind feels considerably clearer after a shower, not to mention the obvious health-benefits of keeping sanitary.
Caffeine isn’t essential while lounging around at home so if you can, try to limit caffeine usage and swap out the odd cup of coffee with some herbal classics - lemon and ginger has abundant immune-boosting properties.
You will have seen this saying everywhere and there’s a reason for it. Skimp on the shampoo but don’t skimp on your 5-a-day. The gut and brain are closely connected, so fill your belly with good foods and your mental health will reap the benefits, too.
Eating well doesn’t mean starving yourself of a major food group. Starchy foods make up over a third of our recommended diet and by cutting them out, you’re restricting your body of a vital source of energy (and yes, you still need that while at home). You can still enjoy your favourite fusilli, just swap white for whole-wheat, or mix the two for gradual adjustment (have patience, you’ll get used to the difference). Other good starchy foods include potatoes, wholemeal bread and brown rice.
Allow yourself the odd piece of banana bread and enjoy it. Just don’t have it every day. The best detox you can have is a varied, balanced diet.
It may seem simple, but hydration makes a huge difference to your mind and body. Even mild dehydration has detrimental effects on your mood, memory and brain function. Water can aid a multitude of issues, from constipation, to fatigue, to hangovers (a sure sign to keep the water flowing). Drinking the recommended 8-12 glasses a day may seem like a tiresome challenge, so carry a bottle around with you in the house to always have a swig on hand.
The time is now to start exercising, but it doesn’t need to be extensive by any means. It has been reported that just 15 minutes of exercise a day can boost life expectancy by three years. Better start now, then.
Setting some sort of structure to the seemingly endless days will help keep anxiety and hopelessness at bay. Set yourself time slots for work and/or projects interspersed with breaks, periods of fresh air, and exercise.
Hate or love it, there’s a lot more to reading than staring at a screen. This is particularly relevant during the lockdown, where many of us will be working on screens for the majority of the day. Break up screen time by picking a good book over a film. If you’re rusty, start with a simple novel and work your way up gradually, so not to put yourself off. You will feel proud for each novel completed, surprised at what you have learnt and if anything, healthier for separating yourself from your phone – a detox on its own.
That brings us onto separating ourselves from social media, too. Social media is a brilliant source of connectivity during these isolated times, but too much and you’ll start comparing yourselves to others, questioning the relevance of your lockdown productivity. Easier said than done, but try to detox yourself of those Instagram lives when possible.
Your imagination may be running riot during these times of isolation, causing anxiety to sky rocket. Detoxing yourself of your demons is a challenging feat, and the constant bombardment of negativity of late will hardly ease anxiety. Mindfulness, the act of “Paying more attention to the present moment”, is a small, simple way of presenting relief. It won’t cure your troubles, but it may subdue them slightly. Get yourself out of your head and go on a mindful walk, or try meditating for a few minutes. It may seem like a daunting prospect, but just sitting in the moment with a YouTube or Headspace mindful track is surprisingly calming.
Change up your sleep routine if you can, getting into bed early and reading a book before getting a full nine hours of slumber. Sleep deprivation can have detrimental effects on your body and mind – depression is five times more likely in those with insomnia.
We’re talking journaling, voice notes, painting, talking to a teddy/human, casting spells – or standard counselling if accessible. Anything to help you process what’s going on up there, do it. Bottling up stress is a highly toxic coping mechanism, so externalise whatever is bothering you in a healthy, therapeutic way. We all need to find ways of detoxing ourselves from negativity during these stressful times.
Cressi Sowerbutts is a fashion communication student based in London and Norwich. Passionate about sustainability and fashion, she aims to fuse the two in highlighting that you can simultaneously celebrate both fashion and the environment.