For most of us, this self-isolation period is riddled with anxiety, delirium and endless snacks. Being inside all day has forced the majority of us to become more creative, more frugal, more patient, more grateful and has seemingly spurred a lot of new bakers! While this practice of social distancing is hard, there’s comfort in the idea that we’re all struggling in some way at the moment. At GRAZIA, we thought it would be nice to peek into the lives of other Australian women going through the same thing. Each day, we’ll bring you the honest tale of a woman, just like you, living her best inside-life from her little spot in America, The UK, Singapore, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. We’re all in this together and some shared tips during this shared experience might be the little pick-me-up you need today to shift some of that stale energy.
I live on a 4th floor apartment near Bastille with my fiancé. I love it because it’s quintessentially Parisian with Haussmanian features like wrought iron balconies and marble fireplaces. Most apartments in Paris are quite small but we’re relatively lucky because we have two large rooms and a modern kitchen that I have suddenly become very familiar with!
One of the best things about Paris is that there is always something going on, whether it’s a concert, new bar opening, birthday dinners with friends or a lazy summer picnic. Since the lockdown started three weeks ago, the city has come to a screeching halt. It feels a bit apocalyptic – the streets are completely empty, the few people you do see are wearing masks and disposable gloves, and people line up for the supermarket spaced 1-2m apart. The thing I’ve really noticed the most is the silence. Paris is full of noise – sirens, cars, bicycle bells, people talking, laughing, having fun… and now there is a calmness over the whole city. You can even hear the birds in the morning.
We are only supposed to go out for absolute essentials… and you need to have a signed “attestation” stating your reason, date and time. So now my day revolves around my 50m2 apartment. I don’t set an alarm any more so I get up whenever I wake up (I’m definitely getting my 8+ hours of sleep), and I check my phone for updates on what has happened in Australia overnight. I have a somewhat loose structure to my day: a few hours for emails and work, time for reading and binge watching series, for some exercise, and for trying new recipes. At 8pm every night, we applaud healthcare workers from our window, then sit down for a leisurely glass of wine, aperitif and dinner.
The thing I find most challenging at the moment is being too connected. At the beginning I was getting quite stressed because I was attached to my phone, but I’ve limited myself to checking social media twice a day. Now that we’re in confinement, you don’t have those real-life interactions to give you perspective so it’s easy to get caught up in headlines and sensationalist articles.
I’m worried about two things, really. I’m worried about friends who are medical staff and who are helping patients every day, as well older members of my family. Australia seems to be a few weeks behind what we’re experiencing in Europe so I hope people are taking it seriously and staying home! The other thing is a bit more selfish, I guess. My fiancé and I are (hopefully) getting married this year and we have planned two weddings – one in Paris this June and then a bigger celebration in Sydney in November. We’re waiting to see what happens, but no one can predict the future so it’s hard to know what to do.
The weirdest thing I’ve seen during this period of self-isolation is a man lining up at the supermarket with a DIY mask. He had taken a plastic packet (like the kind that bacon comes in), pierced the sides with two holes and strung elastic through it to make a mask. So that, and the Tiger King docu=series on Netflix.
My three tips for managing cabin fever are:
1/ Keep moving. I’m normally quite active so I’ve started doing workout classes via Instagram and Zoom. Blocking out at least an hour for some sort of activity gives me a routine (and counteracts all the snacking I’ve been doing).
2/ Treat yourself: Now is the time to do a mask, paint your nails, meditate, light nice candles.
3/ Don’t feel forced to do things. I have to-do lists but I’m not going to make myself feel bad because I haven’t sufficiently up-skilled by the end of the week. You don’t have to “make the most” of this time if all you want to do is stay in bed and watch Fleabag.
I’ll never complain about having to walk everywhere! Paris is a small city and you can mostly walk from place to place, but I could never be bothered so I took the metro. Nowadays it’s a big event if I walk 100m to the closest boulangerie!
I’m most grateful for living in a big city. Even though you’re alone, you can still see your neighbours and signs of life all around. Paris is still Paris and it’s just as beautiful; I’m thankful that I can look out my window and see the architecture, history and monuments. And I can see them even better now because there is no one around!