Lockdown looms yet again for 2022. Looks like another ‘2 week circuit breaker’ is on the cards for the UK. We’ve heard this before. We know how this goes.
Another lockdown? Really?
You’d think by now we’d have adjusted to lockdown or given up utterly, as once again the events we booked in close their doors, often long before it’s legally necessary. Ethically, though? That’s a different matter. A lot of events and venues, especially those with a strong LGBTQIA+ leaning are well aware that they are, in fact, the pivotal centre of their communities. They are the chosen family for many, without which a lot of people would be alone for Christmas. And if that’s the way they want to go, then that’s fair enough. Many others have erred on the side of caution, and with good reason. I’m not here to judge what’s the better option for anywhere- basically, expect a lot of your plans to be put on hold though, whether these last-minute lockdowns legally force the situation or not.
It all sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it? An endless cycle of release, rehabilitation, and relapse, back to solitary confinement. The black dog of depression we fought furiously in the furlough of lockdown one, with craft projects, rollerblading and banana bread, seems a distant memory of charming, childish optimism.
What can we do about another UK lockdown?
Yet all is not lost! As the philosophy goes, we just need to look at it right.
- January always sucks anyway. Everyone is broke, gained weight, poisoned their liver and feels pale and sickly. It’s freezing, it’s dark. Let’s not pretend that anyone ever liked January anyway. This was never going to be the month you suddenly lived your best life.
- It may be ONLY two weeks. That’s a really short time to actually get anything done. There’s a lot you can do, or at least get started with, that you’ll be glad you did when summer rolls around.
- We (at least those of us reading this) survived this before. Last year. We didn’t like it, but here we are.
- I’m willing to bet that when lockdown finally lifted in 2021, a lot of people didn’t feel ready. After it dragged on for so long, pushed back again and again, we got demotivated. We pared back our efforts. And then? When it was time to re-emerge, like a beautiful butterfly? We just felt like a bit of a broken worthless shell. So not this time! This time we will do it RIGHT.
How to use this time to fix every sector of your life
It’s no secret that life gets busy, and we usually juggle all the little things we deprioritise to the back, while we feed off a hope of social, sexual or romantic happiness that seems fleeting and the very thing we need to fuel us onwards. Maybe we have this the wrong way around. We can do the work first and reap the benefits later. Maybe the things we worry are scarce can, in fact, become abundant, when we adjust our beliefs about what we really need.
Joyfully, our tax returns are due at the end of the month. No better time to set aside than right now, free of FOMO. Avoid fines for late filing and get them in ASAP, leaving you free to frolic gaily as soon as lockdown ends.
Even if you aren’t self-employed, it’s a great time to do those admin tasks that are easy to put off: Figure out where all your pension pots are and put them together. Check on that ISA. Find out about that low interest consolidation loan. Arrange life insurance, health insurance. Update your address on all your accounts. Sign up to the electoral roll to boost your credit score. Yes, it’s time consuming and not fun. Which is why now is the best time. It won’t make it any worse than it already is.
Conversely, if you are one of the keyworkers rather than the work-from-home crowd, you’ll have a super-abundance of available work. Do the overtime, put in the hours, make the money. You’re not missing anything at the weekends anyway. That extra weekend at work could fund an extra 4-5 parties later at minimum wage!
Apart from keeping up with friends by text and zoom and freezing 2 metre-distanced walks in the park that we have all come to know and resent, there are actually things you should do now that will help in the future, when you are too busy to do them.
- Update your photos and profile on all your dating and hookup apps. You look different. What you want has changed. Maybe even where you live. Your Spotify list. A lot of things have changed. Take some nice up to date photos, spend the time to bring your profiles up to speed and start making some plans for a month’s time. Remember, nobody wants to date you from 5 years ago. They want you, as you are, right now.
- Social skills, from flirtation to making a sale, are learnable skills. You can use this time to upskill on the theory, by reading, watching videos on tips, and preparing to practice when lockdown ends. My book’s here, and the nature of the game isn’t for everyone, but it’s still a good read. There are plenty of other books, audiobooks and free online tutorials that will help you get insight into achieving whatever you want to with people.
- Plan some things into your diary, with old friends and new contacts for ‘after’. Buy tickets to events you liked, or try some new ones. It may not be this week, but it will be a time to look forward to. Caveat: Try not to jubilantly book them back to back like last year, because a slight delay in lockdown rules means then everything is on top of each other when they reschedule. So, you know. Just a few things.
- Diversify the kind of people you talk to. We are all guilty of getting into our own little bubble, or indeed echo chamber. Depending on your personal circumstances, you might need to stay home and try new things online, or you may be able to volunteer or even take a second part time job helping out with staff shortages. You can do anything from volunteering with food deliveries to working giving vaccines to joining a new ongoing interest group online that has live weekly sessions. There doesn’t need to be a goal in mind for who you talk to. Even if you meet nobody you feel is on your wavelength, the experience will still broaden your horizons and make you a more interesting person.
It’s a pretty great time to address anything minor or preventatively healthwise. Here’s some ideas:
- Book in an STI test. If you are in London you can get a postal one. Worst case scenario, if you have a curable STI you have at least a 2 week window to get treatment and be clear before things reopen.
- Book a smear test if you are a woman. Respect and care for your body. Make sure it is okay.
- Book a dental checkup. Dentists closed for a long time with previous lockdowns. Get in there and do whatever needs to be addressed before it spirals to root canal and extractions. Your bank balance will thank you for it later.
- Start a good habit. You have at least 2 weeks free of temptation. Whether its a 4 week flexibility course, a couch to 5K programme, learning how to cook healthy meals or giving up smoking, you have the chance to start now whatever you’ll wish you did 3 months later. Bonus points: Good circulation makes you better in bed, and more importantly, you’ll enjoy it more!
All those boring online courses you need to update? Do them now. That intensive evening class you just knew you wouldn’t find time for? Bring it. You have a little window of time without distraction to plan your own personal career progress in, whether it’s learning a helpful new skill or polishing up your CV for the next role.
I bet everyone is thinking this is surely the worst possible time to work on our sexual wellbeing, right? Isolated and alone? Or stuck with one partner under stressful conditions?
Yet it’s actually a great time. We can explore sexual wellness, function and enjoyment in lockdown without having to conform to expectation. Can we find a great new sex toy we never imagined we like, and make it our favourite? We can work on discovering what pleasure means to us, right now, without complications. We can work on things like pelvic floor training (with or without weights and aids) or even anal training, to be ready for a new dimension to our experiences later.
Ultimately, nobody should be tolerating bad sex. Ever. This means we need to know not just how to give pleasure, but how to receive it, direct it and enjoy it without guilt or embarrassment. If you don’t know what you like, how are you ever going to guide someone else? Personal sexual enjoyment is a highly specific thing, and what pleases one person won’t please another. You need to know it, own it, and be able to guide it to make sure your own needs are being met. Otherwise, why even bother?
This can mean anything from being stoically philosophical about the situation to ‘finding God’. But what is a way to look after our spiritual wellbeing?
Well, we can pray, if so inclined. We can meditate, if that makes us feel at peace. Or we can try to do good things for others, as best we can under the circumstances. If you ever needed a chance to make a difference, find a cause or be a hero, we have a world crying out for you at the moment.
In the shadows
We can also do our ‘shadow work’. We can face the demons we smother with activity, with company, with distraction. Can we see them for what they are? We can weigh up just how much space they really deserve in our lives? We can reassess all the things we thought we knew. The journey we thought we were on.
Were our goals really good goals? To dream of a house and lifestyle that needs a lottery win? To have the money and looks and freedom to be adored, feared, or deferred to by all? Do we really need a harem of fawning nubile hotties to establish our sexual prowess? Is the most objectively physically attractive/rich/servile/dominant/high-status/funny/caring partner who would really make us the happiest? Would anyone be enough to overcome how we see ourselves when we are fully, truly alone?
There is book called ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,’ which is pretty worth a read. In a nutshell, don’t choose your path for your dreams, choose it for the pain you are willing to endure to be there. And, if you are chasing goals that are unachievable, or don’t end in contentment? Maybe they are really lousy goals.
We are all guilty of this. Maybe it’s a good time to take a look at a different perspective. As to why you are never getting what you really want. Maybe you don’t really want it. Don’t really need it. Or it’s based on a fundamental misunderstanding about how you’ll feel if you do.
Things happen in spite of our plans. And, retrospectively, thank goodness for that.
You may (or may not) have spent the last few lockdowns insulating your loft, redesigning your patio and repainting every wall. Situations are different, and no two homes are alike. From the sprawling dusty country pile to the single bedroom in a HMO, home is… not so much where the heart is, as where we are forced to endure lockdown.
There are still some things everyone can do to make their next ‘freedom day’ as free as possible:
- Declutter! No house, ever, didn’t need a periodic re-evaluation and space clearance. Be brutal. It’s the best way to instantly upgrade wherever you are.
- Clean stuff. Shampoo the carpets. Clean inside the cupboard. Dry clean the curtains and duvet. Wash your makeup brushes, shine your shoes. Fix that broken thing you’ve been meaning to. When it comes to making a seductive boudoir, these details make a difference. I’ve known people to literally leave because a place was too squalid. I have. I’ve known people to break it off with those they were really excited about dating, because of it. Your mum was right after all, clean and tidy your room.
- Add tasteful touches that your dream self, in your dream life would have. Doesn’t need to be a Faberge egg or a hot tub, but make your surroundings an expression of who you are inside. A well placed mirror, a tasteful mood light. These things transform a room.
You don’t actually NEED to change your looks. You look fine. Honest. If, however, you want to, can afford to and plan to do so, now is a great time to do the things that need to be done. Beauty treatments like Aqualyx, Botox, fillers, laser hair removal, pigmentation treatment and many others have down time of a week or two. They will also almost always specify to stay out of the sun (easy enough, it’s January!)
You can also use the January sales online to dress yourself in an updated way for your current shape, to match the fashion or just to feel good about yourself. You’ve also got time to make your own things, if you are crafty. That faux leather harness? You can learn to make your own. Or you can order a bespoke one from an independent retailer, supporting small businesses in your kink community, who will need your patronage and forward vision as the the events take a hiatus.
January has long been a traditional time to purge, diet and punish oneself for a year of excess. If you want to join this moment of sobriety, abstinence and self control along with the rest of the country, you can. You don’t have to. Ultimately, what ‘looks good’ is a construct, varying wildly by opinion and the age in which we live. What always looks good is to radiate that you know you are admired and adored. Whether you buy the Spanx or just spend your time with better people is entirely up to you.
We spend a lot of our lives putting things off. Because they are scary, because they are boring, because they don’t initially spark joy.
These ‘eat your vegetables’ of life actually do come in handy, and there really is a benefit to self-parenting (if self-care feels too indulgent). Let’s imagine it isn’t lockdown. A genie pops out a bottle, and says ‘You get 2 weeks to work on whatever you want most in life’. The catch is that’s the only time you ever get to do it. What would you choose to do?
This is largely the situation. Whatever you may feel, in the future you will be too busy, too distracted. The freedom to follow your dreams later is an illusion. This is your one chance, you definitely know, that you can do the groundwork you need (FOMO free, social obligations free, distraction free) to shift your life, yourself, your world, into whatever you want your future to hold.
That sounds pretty grand. 2 weeks to change your life? It doesn’t have to be that newsworthy or final. Make the herb garden. Take the online course. Find a new hobby you thought you’d suck at. You might not.
What’s the point of all of this?
Here’s what you need to do. Pick a couple of categories, whatever you feel is most lacking in your own life right now. Don’t overload yourself. And schedule in some time for them over 2 weeks.
All things begin with self-willed structure. All things work with consistency. Make yourself structure in what is otherwise an empty void to be filled with gin and tonic alone at a window. Take the curse of time and make it your gift. Make it your bitch. It will be brief enough, when it has gone. It’s your chance to finish stronger than you started.
And who knows, all being well, it might even be your last lockdown!