Tag Archives: Quarantine

Can’t Sleep?

Insomnia book cover by Marina BenjaminOne fun side effect of quarantine is a sleep schedule that slowly, seemingly on its own, creeps off axis, until suddenly it’s 3 am and you decide now is a good time to listen to all your favourite songs from high school. What makes it weirder is that, for a lot of us, we are still getting up in the morning and clocking in for a workdayI, for one, am not sleeping until noon to make up for my late nights. So why is this insomnia happening, and what can we do about it?  

I’m someone who deals with a precarious sleep schedule on a good day; some nights, for no reason at all, I’ll be wide awake until 5 am, only finally passing out once the sun comes up. Is it caused by anxiety? A lack of exercise? Too much caffeine? Any answer is plausible, and it’s never obvious. But being locked inside for the past few months, I’ve been much more confident attributing these sleepless flare-ups to the low-grade anxiety that thrums through us at every point in the day. Just because we might not actively feel the anxiety (although, sometimes, we do) doesn’t mean it’s not always there. You might notice it manifesting in weird, unsettling dreams, which appears to be a common trend right now (mine have tended to be about being locked out of my apartment, my car being towed, being late for work because the Starbucks barista had to cook a whole chicken for me…). There is also the strange sense that time is both speeding by and not moving at all—another scientifically documented byproduct of quarantine. Without distinct markers for the passage of days, our brains have trouble differentiating them. Since all our days look the same, it just feels like one looooong day. Next thing you know, a whole month has gone by.

Because of this, the best thing to do for yourself is create a routine. This is something I struggle with a lot; normally I’m too busy to worry about a routine (besides, like, going to work) and I’m tired enough by the end of the day that I can usually hit the pillow with ease. Without anything forcing structure on me, I’m like a bag in the wind. Routine lets your mind and body know what it should be doing when, including when it should be winding down for sleep. I’m sure you’ve heard the usual “no blue light before bed” rule, but it’s true! Give yourself at least half an hour without screens before bed. The blue light from screens confuses your brain into thinking it’s daytime. So as much as I would love to continue my binge watch of The Magicians at 2 am, I know that’s not the right move. It’s honestly all about fooling your brain.  

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Ponytails & Pyjamas: Beauty Routines in Self-Isolation

Did I brush my teeth today? I wonder as I fire up my laptop for another day of working at home. As I sip my coffee and reply to the latest emails, I become increasingly aware of my unwashed hair, but since there’s no one to see it, what’s the harm in leaving it just one more day? Then again, I do have that important Zoom meeting at 2 pm. I should probably look a little more presentable for that. Surely some muted lighting will help hide the tired, dark circles under my eyes. And there’s nothing that a high ponytail can’t solve.

As each day melts into the next during social isolation, it’s easy to neglect even the most basic self-care rituals. I was never a high maintenance gal to begin with, but I feel myself slipping even further into lazy habits. The problem is, once you start wearing your pyjamas around all day, the malaise can trickle into other areas of your life.

Beauty isn’t just about the superficial. How you feel about your appearance can have a strong negative impact on productivity and energy. You might stop video chatting with your family and friends because you “don’t look good right now.” You’ll probably skip that afternoon walk worried because your hair is frizzy and your grey roots are showing. And now that you’re in your pyjamas – so soft and warm –  a little nap couldn’t hurt. But once you’re in that cozy bed, it’s oh-so-hard to get back up again.

So what can we do to feel better in these challenging times? How can we create a realistic and manageable beauty routine while being kind to ourselves? Continue reading