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Isolation Guilt

By Millie Davidson

What staying healthy and happy in isolation means for you, regardless of what social media influencers are doing…

Scrolling through Instagram after getting out of bed at 2pm, on day one of isolation, I click on the story of a wellness influencer. Smiling into the camera with immaculate makeup, flawless skin, she tells her 186,000 followers that lockdown doesn’t have to be the time to “binge on chips”. This is the same influencer who sells a ‘Body Reset Plan’ for £28 to presumably impressionable young women, letting you in on a secret Facebook page where women share photos of what they have eaten that day – encouraged by a diet plan she provides.

At first, I am inspired by the prospects of getting into healthy habits whilst in isolation – what would be the harm in that? I still stick by this, there is no harm in maintaining healthy habits when, of course, “binging on chips” could easily become the only thing I do. This wellness influencer suggests doing your makeup in the morning, to help you feel more productive. Sure, I think, experimenting with makeup is fun and I’m all for feeling more productive than I’m actually being, let alone more confident in my skin than I’m actually feeling. It’s easy to forget, however, these wellness influencers, after posting their lockdown lifestyle tips, will go on to eat an acai bowl or a green smoothie – ingredients being ten different vegetables you’ve never heard of, available only at Wholefoods. This is a lifestyle a university student, presumably living with their families during lockdown, not a swank apartment in downtown LA, will find almost impossible to maintain.

Do I sound salty? Probably. I mean, yeah, I definitely am. But seriously, where is the line drawn between reality and expectation – when no reality can hit harder than a pandemic, claiming the lives of over 90,000 worldwide to date. Two weeks ago, I was sucked into what influencer’s tell you is a healthy isolation lifestyle: I began doing ab workouts, monitoring my snacking and drowning myself in coffee so that I wouldn’t go ‘overboard’. I became so invested and motivated that ‘What I Eat in a Day’ and ‘How to Train like a Victoria’s Secret Model’ videos were all that appeared on my YouTube recommendations. I found myself scrolling for hours, so that my phone battery would be drained by the afternoon; criticising my body in the mirror before jumping in the shower, sweaty from my ‘How to Lose 10 pounds in a Month’ workout.

This continued until earlier this week when I had an epiphany: if the whole point of this is to feel happy and healthy, I am certainly sacrificing that for the same body as Rosie Huntington-Whitely. It was then that I realised my seeming inspiration had become an addiction, fuelled by comparing myself to what I saw on Instagram. A refocus is needed, if you feel the same helplessness that I did, to find out what makes YOU feel fulfilled, and at peace with your isolation routine. Consequently, I decided to do a social media cleanse, and I highly recommend this for anyone feeling a strong sense of what I like to call ‘isolation guilt’.

If you’ve exhausted countless Netflix series and every Margaret Atwood novel ever written, whilst feeling guilty for not going on your daily run – please take a second to consider if it is making your coronavirus anxiety settle, and if it is – THAT IS OKAY! In the meantime, I have been working out when I know that I am not doing it for the wrong reasons, and eating what my body is telling me to – and trust me I feel happier and healthier than I did when the thought of “binging on chips” scared me.

My email is open to anyone wanting to chat about topics I’ve discussed in this article. It would be great if we could all share what we do to remain positive – from the odd workout, recipes and rituals. I highly recommend Freya Williams’s YouTube videos. She is a UoL student and yoga instructor, with some insane yoga flows to “stretch the body and soothe the mind”. Find her on Instagram.

This is a crazy time for everyone, but I hope you can find solace in doing what you can to maintain your mental, and therefore, physical health. xoxo

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