Sustainable Diva: Tips for surviving lockdown
Velvet columnist Caroline S. Asante, aka Sustainable Diva, says the coronavirus lockdown is a chance to press reset. Here, in the first of a new series, she shares her isolation survival guide
Life as we have known it has changed. The global Covid-19 virus pandemic has disrupted and restructured our lives beyond recognition. In just a few months all our lives and habits are now unrecognisable. The one thing we do have is each other: the coronavirus crisis also brings opportunities for us to recognise there is comfort when we all support each other through this shared experience. No matter how grim.
During this challenging time of loss, fear and disruption, let us continue to champion this collective challenge with the spirit of togetherness, a vital ingredient of humanity perhaps we had forgotten. Now with more ‘time’ at home, but self-isolating together, let’s use this head and heart space to ponder deeper fundamental questions in regard to what type of world we wish to see going forward.
Are our collective habits and behaviours, many of which haven’t been in the best interest of our environment nor ourselves as a human race, going to continue post Covid-19? And could a new type of economic model emerge from the loss and financial meltdown happening around us, to create a more equal distribution of wealth and well-being, not day to day or month to month survival?
Let’s adjust our mindset to this period of lockdown as a self-imposed retreat. With over-demanding, busy lives we tend to rush from one meeting, place, situation to another, whilst giving the precious-left attention to often needless social media distractions. Now we get the opportunity to stand still, let’s use this time to delve deeper.
Is fear real?
Fear always brings chaos, selfishness and disharmony. We have witnessed a manifestation of this around the UK and rest of the world, as some people sought to panic-buy food supplies as a reaction to the unknown; to the fear they were feeling.
Uncertainty abounds, but change is the only certainty and perhaps we can take this terrible crisis period as a life-reset and opportunity to change not only how we each operate in our daily lives, but to also change our own interpretation and meaning of it. For the very first time perhaps, we all now have extra time and space to reflect what that purpose may be.
We are very resilient in the UK and no doubt new and innovative ways of living and coping will be realised. Stay safe.
Over the next few months I will share with you some of the personal life-reset tips I’m using to survive quarantine. It is not, of course, a one-fits-all, but perhaps some ideas will help you make it through the critical self-isolating and social-distancing measures we must all adhere to now. Here are eight tips to get you started.
1. Make time for you, first
Create a fresh new way to start each day by giving yourself your undivided attention first. Start a daily morning meditation before doing anything else active.
Meditation isn’t as hard as it may seem. Create a small clutter-free space in your bedroom for your daily meditation practice to make it easier or if you have a garden do it there.
I’ve been using meditation as a way of coping with daily life for years, and particularly in times of mental and emotional stress, I’ve found it a simple and no-cost form of stress-release.
Meditation and mindfulness will bring enormous benefits to help you stay strong mentally and emotionally and increase your feeling of wellbeing. You will give your body extra oxygen through the exercise and it will gift you a nice dose of serotonin in return.
I’m currently using Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s FREE #hopegoesglobal 21day Meditation as a way of raising positive and strength frequency levels everywhere with everyone. The app is free to download, only available on iPhone: chopracentermeditation.com
2. Limit daily news updates
Try to curb the amount of end-to-end coronavirus news updates your mind consumes each day, limiting it to a maximum of 30 minutes a day. Pick a news source you trust and set your alarm for specific time to listen.
3. Remember music heals
Listen to music and increase your daily listening time any time you feel a ‘news update’ fix coming on. For the first few weeks, as Covid-19 coverage escalated around the world, I found myself needing to keep the news on all day. This eventually left me feeling drained and pessimistic. Music, on the other hand, will bring back a sense of hope and optimism that you need to keep your energy levels up.
4. Make your own all-natural home, hair and beauty products
With so much time now spent at home, why not make your own toxin-free products? Here are three easy, all-natural recipes I use at home, all made from super-cheap ingredients that achieve maximum results.
DIY all-natural home cleaner and cloth wipes
These all-purpose natural cleaning cloths are fantastic to use around the entire house, last for ages, are cheap and prevent unnecessary trips to the store. For the rags, I cut up one of my son’s out-grown white PE cotton T-shirts.
You will need:
200ml distilled water
A sterilized mason jar or pre-used large glass jar with lid
1 pre-used clean cotton T-shirt or cotton towel
15 drops tea tree essential oil*
10 drops spike lavender essential oil
You can add 50ml of white distilled vinegar or five drops of lemon or orange essential oils to this formula.
Make sure any cloth material you use has been pre-washed and thoroughly dried.
Cut the t-shirt or towel into strips 6-8 cm wide.
Roll the strips into a sausage shape and place into your glass jar.
Pour the distilled water, followed by the drops of essential oils, over the strips,
Secure the lid and shake well a few times to ‘stir’ the fabric inside, so the liquid is soaked up.
Place in a cool area and be sure to keep out of the sun to prevent condensation.
Use as needed. Hand or machine wash the rags as needed, hang dry and repeat.
*Disclaimer: This recipe is for general purpose cleaning only. Tea tree essential oil is a known natural antibacterial, great around the house for normal cleaning, but not as a disinfectant. Therefore it’s not effective against the new Covid-19 virus: it is recommended only a compound of undiluted (no water added) 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol would be effective.
Homemade rice water hair conditioner
Quarantine has me viewing more YouTube videos than usual. Mesmerised, I find myself hooked on “how to (fill in the blank)” videos, which normally I would not have time for.
Enter the rice water hair treatment revival by YouTubers, right now clocking up millions of views. You are only a few grains and 24 hours away from the most cost-effective super-glossy hair - tried and tested.
Rice water is the starchy residue which remains after rice grains are soaked and has been a secret hair shiner for centuries. According to the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, it was used by women in Japan during the Heian period (794-1185CE) - who were famous for their floor-length, thick, lustrous hair, which remained black and never turned grey as they grew older. This miracle of age defiance and rapid hair growth was attributed to their use of fermented rice water.
Rice has a high starch content and contains many vitamins and minerals helpful to healthy hair growth and lustre including amino acids, B vitamins and antioxidants. Somehow, by the powers of word of mouth, it is now one of the most trending hair topics for hair growth and shine.
I’ve been using the recipe below for over a month now and must say my hair is extra shiny and soft. I have thick, long, curly hair so use a larger rice/water ratio than below as my hair tends to be dry. I add 10 drops of argan oil, together with two drops each of lavender and rose essential oil for fragrance. Rice water is now my regular conditioner.
You will need:
1/2 cup white rice (it doesn’t matter if it’s basmati or long grain; hopefully you can find some in the shops near you)
3 cups distilled water*
Mason jar with lid (any empty sterilised glass jar with lid will suffice)
You can add argan oil and/or essential oil for fragrance.
Empty rice into the glass bowl and wash it thoroughly, then discard that water.
Add three cups of pre-boiled but cooled water to the rice and leave soaking overnight to ferment.
Strain the starchy water only into a spray bottle/glass jar.
After shampooing, spritz or pour the rice water onto your hair and scalp until completely soaked.
Leave for 20 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm (not hot) water.
Easy all-natural skin toner
You will need:
50ml distilled water (I use charcoal sticks in tap water)
100ml witch hazel
20 drops jojoba Oil
Mix all the ingredients together in the spray bottle.
Shake and use as a skin toner, refresher and make-up remover.
5. Learn to paint
Again, YouTube is a magical resource for learning new skills. Painting is a wonderful way to de-stress, express emotions and get in touch with the creative side of yourself. First, do some research on what type of painting you would like to create, then go on a creative search.
I highly recommend the Art Sherpa from Texas, USA. She is a colourful personality and offers easy step-by step-painting tutorials in a fun atmosphere, especially when live streaming. Live acrylic painting lessons are on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when you can join thousands of others to chat, paint and unwind. The level of painting skill varies and is great for beginners - see youtube.com/user/HoneyBmama/about
6. Rekindle old connections
In the midst of social distancing, each deep into your contact list and reconnect with a friend you haven’t been in touch with for years who gave you the gift of great memories and laughter. I found and reached out to a past-life friend on LinkedIn; she now lives in Australia. We worked closely together for years at a cable TV station decades ago in Vancouver. Now back in touch, it is one of the best things I ever did for both of us.
7. Phone your friends
Phone your friends and family in the evening rather than text them. Remember the friend who is a single mother or father or someone living alone.
8. Make a gratitude list
This will remind you of the positives in your life. Keep it somewhere you will see it often, for instance on the front of the fridge or in your phone.
Although quarantine might feel like a momentous challenge sometimes, and let’s face it, we are not in normal times any longer, sometimes being faced with restriction forces us to look at ourselves and reflect on how lucky we are in fact and to count the blessings we have in our life. Strength often comes through adversity, so see this time also as a way you are strengthening and growing as human being.
Think about the good things in your life. I am so grateful for my own good health and family. As the only child of a super-active 80-year-old mother living alone in Vancouver, this causes me tremendous worry. Now instead of me being selfishly ‘always busy’ I call every day.
I grew up with my single mom working 12-hour shifts as an NHS obstetric nurse, midwife and then obstetric tutor in London at St Thomas’s Hospital for 20 years, with another 15 years in the same profession when we moved to Canada.
As we are finding out, it takes a special human to be a medical professional. They are selfless and have giving to others embedded in their DNA. Sacrifices are made also by families who grow up with parents as medical staff - to this day I still remember having a Christmas day and dinner at one of the hospitals as my mom was matron of a maternity unity. So let’s all remember to say a daily gratitude prayer to those making sacrifices for us all.
Due to the corona crisis the Sustainable Diva portal launch was delayed in April, but it will be up for May. Also look out for my Sustainable Diva daily affirmation and meditation app on Amazon Alexa Skills launching soon.
I would love to hear from you: if you want to contact me, the best way is to send me a note via direct message on either Instagram @sustainablediva or Twitter @sustainableDVA. For updates visit the sustainablediva.org website.
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More by this authorCaroline S. Asante