Things To Do Whilst Social-Distancing: A Guide By Elvira Vedelago
A Note from Team BASE: These are unprecedented times and as we all try to adapt and adjust our lives in this strange new world, isolating ourselves from friends and family it is important now more than ever for us to stay connected.
Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing a series of weekly to-do lists, curated by some of our friends, industry insiders and community. They will be sharing their recommendations of things to read, listen to and watch to help keep your minds occupied, your bodies healthy and your souls energised. Whether you’re practising social-distancing or having to self-isolate we hope these recommendations will offer little nuggets of cultural escapism and spark a little joy.
This weeks cultural guide is by Italian-Nigerian Features Director of Postscript Elvira Vedelago. Postscript is a cultural anthology ‘bringing together the multiplicity of perspectives of socially engaged and critical thinking women’.
Through various forms of content including their beautifully curated journal, newsletter, website as well as events that they host her work at Postscript brings together, supports and connects women of colour. This week Elvira shares with us what she has been doing to get her through the weeks of social-distancing.
WHAT music are you currently listening to?
I’ve had the Lion King album ‘The Gift’ on repeat a few times, I found the songs quite uplifting. And I’m loving Cleo Sol’s new album ‘Rose in the Dark’, she has such a beautiful voice and vibe about her.
Sometimes I just listen to scores from my favourite films while I work – because they are just instrumental they are actually rather calming and don’t feel overwhelming in the current climate. Plus, when it’s pieces from parts of the film you recognise, like music from Lord of the Rings for example, it feels rather comforting.
What PODCASTS are you listening to?
I’m not much of a podcast person but I did recently listen to the first episode of ‘Growing up with gal-dem’ and enjoyed their chat with Candice Carty-Williams on her battles with depression and anxiety, and maintaining boundaries for her mental wellbeing.
What are you currently READING?
As a bookworm, I thought I would be ingesting all books right now but if I’m honest, I’ve found it quite hard to concentrate properly in this climate. While reading normally acts as a source of comfort to me, I’ve not gravitated to it as much in the first six weeks of lockdown, which felt weird to me. Saying that, I have just read an interesting article on TBD titled, ‘What You Are Doing is Not Remote Work. It is Coping in a Global Emergency.’ It reminded me to give myself a break and not get upset if I’m not being super productive in this time period. This is an unprecedented moment in our history, it’s okay to take it easy if you need to and go at your own pace.
However, I recently just finished reading ‘Afropean’ by Johny Pitts, an amazing book investigating black identity across Europe. As a mixed-race woman, having lived in various countries in Europe and Africa, I really connected with the search for belonging and community highlighted in the book and the efforts to create ‘home’ in alien and at times unwelcoming spaces. Highly recommend this, I learned so much reading it.
I have also signed up to more newsletters and I’m enjoy browsing through them from time to time to see if anything sparks my interest. I recommend the ICA Daily – they have great links on book clubs, engaging YouTube channels, and fun tracks of the day. Also the POSTSCRIPT newsletter is handy too, with links to interesting articles online, pinboard ideas for online activities and book excerpts from emerging writers. We also have a Digital Digest feature on our Instagram page with lots of ideas for free online content you can read, watch or listen to. Finally Dialogue books have started a weekly digital bookclub with some of their writers which looks like fun.
WHAT are you watching?
I’m in the middle of season three of Killing Eve. I adore Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s (the writer) humour and love seeing women play complex, dark and twisted characters. Jodie Comer (who plays Villanelle) is an absolute breath of fresh air and I weirdly really connect with her character (I’ve always been fascinated by psychopaths and female psychopaths are even more intriguing because we see less of them).
And for more movie suggestions, I definitely recommend checking out POSTSCRIPT’s Instagram highlights for movies to watch from female directors of colour – everything from Mati Diop’s Atlantics (a Senegalese romantic ghost story which I’m obsessed with!) to Ana Lily Amipour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (a cool story about a skateboarding Iranian female vampire).
How are you staying FIT during the lockdown?
I go on the occasional run or I do workouts at home that I find on Instagram like @sulsworld who makes working out fun with all his silly outfits.
HOW are you looking after yourself mentally and emotionally?
We’ve started playing digital pub quizzes with friends and family on Zoom which has been super fun and a nice way to hang out and communicate beyond just catching up (I’ve run out of things to say to family and friends now, not much happens day to day at home lol).
Using the Houseparty app can also be fun at times. I had an amazing conversation with friends of friends in Denmark and Kenya yesterday – we talked about Scandinavian horror films, prison reform in Denmark, digital technologies in Kenya, literacy rates across East Africa and travel/tourism in Zimbabwe. It was honestly an amazing conversation with women of colour across the globe and so refreshing to connect with new people with similar interests.
However, I also need moments to myself so I’ve bought 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles to play alone which I’m really enjoying. It’s taking me ages to complete one but it feels like a small achievement every time I figure out another section of the puzzle. I actually watched a clip of a Channel 4 video with a psychologist who explains the need to incorporate novelty into our day to day routines at home during this time period – explaining that our brains require new sources of stimulation to keep our spirits up and that actually books and TV alone won’t be enough to cut it. So doing jigsaw puzzles fulfils that need for novelty.
Finally every evening before bed, my partner and I say one thing we are grateful for or something we particularly enjoyed about our day. It puts us in a nicer and more appreciative mood before bed.
What are your favourite meals or SNACKS that are getting you through each day?
I’m cooking a lot more at home and trying new/tweaking old recipes. As an Italian, I cook so many variations of pasta and can do it with my eyes closed but I’ve wanted to try new cuisines and up my cooking game. I’ve been experimenting with East Asian recipes recently and now I’m obsessed. Firecracker prawns with stir-fried pak choi is my current jam!
The British-Pakistani food start up, Empress Market, have been posting cooking at home tips which I’ve enjoyed watching and I saw a Stories on making chai lattes on their Instagram earlier this week so I’ll also give that a go soon.
WHAT are your sources of inspiration?
I’m not sure that I have felt inspired in this time period, everything feels upside down at the moment and some days I wake up feeling really quite sad at the current state of things.
I did recently interview Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry for POSTSCRIPT and I found her message of rest as a form of resistance and reparation uplifting. She posts regular thoughts on her social media @thenapministry highlighting how napping acts as a form of protest against capitalism and ‘grind culture’, which is ultimately leading to increased burn out, particularly for black and brown people. She also has great ideas and recommendations on dealing with the collective grief many of us are feeling in response to the current pandemic.
I also ordered a bunch of magazines that I’m hoping will act as some creative inspiration in the coming days and I’m particularly looking forward to reading the latest Luncheon and their interview with British painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
What are your home luxuries that are making you HAPPY?
I’m using my evening skincare routine as a meditative practice basically to help relax and unwind in the evenings. I’ve claimed the bathroom as my zen space during those times and asked my family not to bother me then so I can have some proper me time. My Malin & Goetz Brightening Enzyme Face Mask makes my skin so soft and dewy, and the Disciple Good Skin face oil and Wild Source Golden Hour body oil both smell and feel amazing – it’s like I’m giving myself a mini spa treatment when I use them.
I also spritz on perfume every morning because wearing a nice scent is super comforting and helps me establish some form of normalcy right now.
Do you have any other TIPS that get you through the week?
Try and mix and match between the things you need to do and activities that bring you comfort. Keeping a routine is important to help maintain some semblance of normality but also at the same time, if you wake up and don’t feel like doing anything that’s okay too.
Don’t get too bogged down with all the online tips on productivity right now, your mental and emotional wellbeing are more important so just do whatever you need to get through this time. We’re learning to adapt to a new way of life at the moment, so it’s okay to go at your own pace and take it easy when you need to.
Do you have any recommendations on how to spend the WEEKEND during social -distancing?
Find new activities to engage in that are fun and light-hearted or do ones that you already love. Schedule them ahead of time so you have something to look forward to. For me that’s been cooking or playing games, whether online with friends or family or even puzzles by yourself. It keeps the mind ticking, creates novel experiences and is fun and light-hearted. But also, just do whatever feels fun and relaxing to you.