For as long as the Covid-19 outbreak is going to go on, we’re all going to be feeling perpetually anxious for our own health as well as for the health of our loved ones and those in our communities. However, the outbreak also means that we’re all going to be spending a lot more time indoors. Amid the lists of activities to do while in isolation, there’s also an awful lot of posts, tweets and articles dedicated to being hyper-productive, fit, healthy, self-improving, skincare-finessing…the list goes on of things that we’re “meant to be doing.” But the truth is, this isolation time is a time for health and wellness, yes – but not necessarily in the nauseatingly capitalist and aesthetic-centric way which is vastly being promoted. Its time to spend time loving our bodies and minds, in a free and gentle way instead.
First things first, being indoors for the majority of your day means you’re probably going to be exercising less. Of course, you can walk upstairs or in your garden or do some yoga at home if that’s going to make your brain feel better and more refreshed for the day ahead. However, don’t let seeing influencers lifting weights and doing intense workouts at home on their Instagram stories make you feel like you have to be an athlete-in-training in order to be living a ‘fulfilled’ life during your isolation.
If you are well (and I truly hope you are) during this period of isolation/ social distancing, then this is probably the first break your body has gotten from work and exercise in a very, very long while – it’s okay to spend an absurd amount of time on the sofa watching films and having snacks if that’s your chosen coping mechanism. During this time of hysteria and anxiety, the last thing we need is an added pressure of constantly moving and being fit – it’s okay to relax and seek comfort during this era of panic, and what better what to be body positive than to look after your body and give it what it needs, rather than what you’re being told to give it?
Furthering the added health anxieties that are being perpetuated by influencers and ‘rise and grind culture’ alike, all this time at home can be incredibly difficult for those who have a tempestuous relationship with their bodies and their food consumption. Less exercise often means a gnawing feeling of ‘I should be eating less’ that manifests itself at the bottom of the stomachs of those who feel that every calorie eaten should be matched with exercise – and this just isn’t the case.
While anxious or experiencing loneliness or sadness, reaching for ‘unhealthy’ snacks is completely normal and shouldn’t be met with feelings of shame or regret – after all, food really is just food. Its not the enemy, and your body absolutely needs the extra calories in a time where our bodies are working overtime with stress. Also, your body needs you to stick to basal caloric intake in order to survive – even if you’re lying in bed all day curled up and reading a good book, you still need as many meals and snacks as you would usually have in order to stay healthy.
All this is definitely easier said than done, but it’s always worth saying that body positivity isn’t all about saying positive affirmations in the mirror every morning – sometimes it’s going against the voice in your head and looking after yourself physically.
All this time inside a house also means that you might have whole days to yourself, with nothing but your own body and self. This is the perfect time to let yourself see you in ways that you might not always let others see. This could take the form of not wearing makeup for a prolonged amount of time if you’re not confident without it, or wearing makeup that’s out of your comfort zone, or letting your acne breathe – and hopefully, this could help you feel more comfortable. In terms of our bodies, we rarely spend time in our daily working lives looking at ourselves – and not in a fleeting, just-out-the-shower-and-avoiding-mirrors way.
Body positivity is often framed as taking nudes of yourself where you’re posed, where you feel nice, or saying positive affirmations to yourself in the mirror every morning. But sometimes the best thing to do is to see yourself stark naked, slouching on a chair, bloated, hairy, tired, warts-and-all and not a touch of good lighting in your sight. While this is nothing short of startling at first, the longer you do it, the more you come to accept that your body can exist, at its most desexualised form and still be beautiful.
What you choose to look like in public is absolutely your business – wearing makeup, being shaven, doing your hair, covering or not covering your body, it’s your decision and comfort which come first.
However, what better time than a time when you’re forced to be alone and free from the public gaze to make peace with yourself, in your own time?
So, stay safe everyone. If you’re living with anyone with symptoms of if you have symptoms yourself, stay following the safety precautions. But if you’re well and are looking for something to fill the time, there’s always a gap that body positivity and the edges towards acceptance can fill. Stay snacking, stay comforting yourself, and above all, stay positive towards yourself – at all angles.