Breathe deep for three. Now do it again. Feel better? “We know fragrance can impact mood as when inhaled, essential oil particles are taken directly to the top of the nose, where the receptor cells of the olfactory system are situated” says CEO of This Works, Dr Anna Persaud. So, why not amplify the feeling with mood-boosting botanicals? Nicola Elliott, founder of NEOM swears by a few drops of Neom Scent To Make You Happy Essential Oil Blend, £20, laced with neroli, mimosa and lemon, in the Neom Wellbeing Pod, £95.
Crucial watercooler chat aside, returning to the office will bring with it a surplus of forgotten stress. “Set your boundaries and forge your own path,” says Wellbeing Coach, Sam Burgess. When the pressure rises, “for physical and psychological benefits, dab essential oil on your pulse points,” says Anita Kaushal, co-founder of Mauli Rituals. The brand’s Mauli Surrender Body Oil, £48 is laced with a tension-melting blend of chamomile, frankincense, geranium and vetiver. Unnecessary meetings? Noisy eating at desks? Motormouth colleagues? A breeze.
Lipstick feeds a hunger for happiness. It restores rational order and redresses the bare-lipped balance of the year that’s just gone. It detracts attention from sallow, sorry-looking skin that has been starved of sunlight. “Instantly transformative, don’t shy away,” says makeup artist Lisa Potter-Dixon. “If you’re daunted, instead of a statement lip, use your finger or a fluffy brush to create a fuss-free stain.” Now what colour goes best with anxiety? Just kidding. (Kind of). “Orange suits everyone and is so upbeat - the darker your skin, the brighter you can afford to go on a spectrum from burnt to brick to tangerine,” Lisa notes. Dip a toe with Nars Lipstick, £23 or even a tinted lip balm, such as or .
THE SOCIAL STUFF
Perhaps the idea of wholesale freedom fills you with dread? Maybe you’re ambivalent about lockdown lifting? Saving money has been nice. So has a slow social calendar and not having to dress – or shower – for work. Either way, strengthening your social muscles will take time. In the interim, practice cautious cuddling; tempering your tactility, and, unless both parties have been double vaxxed, continuing to wear a mask. “The world will wait,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Sophie Mort, who suggests having a stock phrase such as “thanks for the invite, I’m not quite ready to get back out but I’ll let you know when I am”. Accept that others will feel different to you; your neuroses are not theirs and vice versa. Anxiety is a self-fulfilling prophecy: “the more we avoid the thing that makes us anxious, the worse our anxiety becomes. Re-entry fear is real - ease yourself back in.”
GETTING BACK IN ‘THE GAME’
If you’re single, you may feel like a year's worth of fun and/or potential suitors have been snatched from you, but don’t let expectations and pressure whip you into a frenzy. “The government roadmap doesn’t have to be yours,” says dating and relationship expert Sarah Louise Ryan. When you are ready, don’t overthink it: “See a date simply as meeting someone new, not an interview for a life partner. Remember the person you’re looking for is out there looking for you too!”
Plants spew oxygen at a rate of knots, thus purifying your space. Suffering from a bad bout of brain fog? Introduce an aesthetically pleasing, on-trend cheese plant. Or try your hand in the garden (the balcony, the windowsill, wherever…). Founder of gardening start-up Water Daily, Theo Charnley says “feel good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine are released when we nurture something from seed, and gardening is scientifically proven to reduce anxiety and lessen the production of cortisol”. There’s a reason horticultural therapy is used in hospitals.
After the obvious ‘Hands, Face, Space,’ routine was the first thing health professionals recommended. Now, of the one you honed, what positive elements can you incorporate into your new normal? P.E. With Joe, Peloton, Pilates? Trying to replicate your life pre-COVID is futile (the landscape has changed), but you can cherry pick bits from each to “create a feeling of security and comfort through consistency,” says Burgess. “Own your needs."
Forest bathing. Ha ha HA, you’re thinking. What do we take you for? First, the bathing part is conceptual. Secondly, there’s no tree hugging or saluting the sun – or the soil – barefoot in your pants. It simply means slowing down and immersing yourself in nature. In Japan, it’s been a form of preventative medicine since the 1980s, thought to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and aid sleep. There are vocal proponents in the NHS too. If you’re lacking nearby verdance, try Aromatherapy Associates Forest Therapy Bath & Shower Oil, £49, which smells crisp, crunchy and green, and so, according to Amy Bonfield, education manager at Aromatherapy Associates, allows you to “turn something as ordinary as showering, into a sacred moment of ‘me-time’.” Waft or light Byredo Tree House Candle, £60 to add an extra element to the experience.