There’s just no sugarcoating it: pandemic life isn’t the greatest. But just because the world is topsy-turvy right now doesn’t mean our lives have to be, too.
To cope with the one-two punch of uncertainty and mundanity inherent in #confinementlife, I’ve spent the last year refining my daily quarantine experience to make it as comfortable, cozy, and elegant as possible. Part of my strategy has been simply reframing the negatives as positives: work from home? Perfect—commute time reduced to zero. No more daily yoga classes? It’s okay; now I can save money for a post-pandemic yoga retreat.
Besides a change of perspective, I’ve also retooled the way I manage stress and identified the triggers that kickstart anxiety. What’s really helped is slowing down and approaching everything I do with mindfulness. Eliminating the frenzy and chaos allows me to breathe and enjoy this time rather than just suffer through it. And the good news is that it’s easier than you might think. These tips will help you get on the path toward living elegantly every day—pandemic or not.
- Begin each day elegantly
The start to an elegant day actually begins the night before. Before sliding into bed, I make sure my house is picked up and organized, which is the perfect prelude to a productive, elegant morning. Dinner dishes are washed and put away, my work space is tidied up, my phone is on airplane mode, and my laptop is closed. Good sleep is the foundation for a healthy life, so I go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to ensure I get my minimum of seven hours. Upon rising each morning, I light a stick of palo santo to infuse my home with a pleasant aroma and clear any stagnant energy. Now I’m ready to greet the day with a sense of calm and purpose. What could be more elegant than that?
- Transform your living environment into an elegant cocoon
Now more than ever, our homes have become our sanctuaries, and I (try to) treat mine as if it were a luxury hotel. In the bathroom, I put indulgent bath products on display, and use—yes, use—the fancy soap and lotions. Essential oils give my shower a steam-room vibe, and help lift my spirits (especially peppermint). The fluffy towels once reserved for guests are now my mainstay, and scented candles add to the spa-like feeling. I’ve created a similarly “special” atmosphere in the kitchen, where my pantry is always stocked with the items that bring me joy: French sea salt, Guatemalan cacao, and a colorful bowl of fresh fruit on the table. A weekly trip to the farmers’ market reminds me that I am still part of a larger community, but I’m not immune to the allure of having groceries delivered—something that once felt like a special splurge but now is merely part of my elegant life.
- Create an elegant work space
When I’m working from home, I delineate a space—in this case, my kitchen table—to create a work environment that encourages productivity. Before sitting down to work, I wipe down the table, light a scented candle, set out my writing utensils (my favorite fountain pen is a must!), and then organize my computer (oriented to face a window for natural light), calendar, and paperwork. I fill a carafe with water to sip throughout the day, and try to get up to stretch at least once an hour. At the end of the day, I clear my workspace, blow out my candle, wipe the table down, and recreate a space where I can enjoy my evening meal without work clamoring for my attention.
- Foster elegant relationships with friends and neighbors
Before the pandemic, my work and travel schedule meant that I rarely saw my neighbors. Now, we are practically family! At the beginning of COVID, I penned a handwritten note to my neighbors to say hello, along with my phone number in case there was anything they needed. Today, we regularly check in on each other and offer to pick up items at the store when out running errands. Being kind and generous is a win-win default setting, and simple gestures like delivering fresh-baked cookies or a special note make others feel wonderful—and make me feel good, too!
- Add elegance with fresh flora
There’s a lot of science out there supporting the idea that exposure to greenery, whether trees outside your window or a bouquet of flowers on your table, can lower cortisol levels, promote healing, and make you feel less anxious. I love topiaries and ferns, and have them throughout my home, and I also occasionally treat myself to inexpensive organic flower bouquets from my local natural food store. Merely looking at fresh blooms makes me feel happy, and they bring a sense of peace, serenity, and elegance to my living space.
- Create a clean, elegant home
The pandemic has given us all a refresher course on the importance of cleanliness, and not just our hands. My routine includes making my bed first thing in the morning, washing my bed and bath linens weekly, never leaving dishes in the sink, and setting aside a small window once a week to give my bathroom a deep clean with earth-friendly products. These routines keep my head clear and set me up for success in all areas of my life.
- Wind down elegantly
Evening might just be the most elegant time of day. This is our moment to relax and unwind, to let go of the stresses of the day, and create an ambiance that fosters warm and cozy feelings. For me, this means dimming the lights and lighting candles, playing relaxing music while I prepare dinner (if you can, invest in a bluetooth speaker so your music sounds great), taking a steamy shower with essential oils, reading a book or magazine, or enjoying another analog diversion that allows me to detach from work, which—confession time—isn’t always easy! Preparing a pot of tea and pouring it into a beautiful mug or teacup increases the elegance factor while reading or catching up on the latest Netflix series. It’s the perfect end to a simple yet luxurious day, and lays the foundation for a perfectly elegant next day.