You locate a top from the pile on the floor. It passes the ‘sniff test’ and becomes your outfit for the day. Your colleagues won’t notice – or even care. They’ve probably done the same thing.
With the majority of our interactions conducted via a screen these days, and only half our bodies ever on view, it’s hardly surprising so many of us have become sloppy with our grooming routines. Dare I say it, even a bit gross.
So how – and why – are we letting ourselves go?
Basic hygiene by the wayside
HuffPost UK reader Kat, 35, and based in Tooting, south London, keeps forgetting to brush her teeth while working from home during lockdown.
“Some of my shifts start at 5 or 6am and I don’t really leave my desk much during that time, so it’s only when I finish that I remember I haven’t brushed my teeth,” she admits. “Sometimes that might be 2pm! I know it’s disgusting, but I don’t know where the time goes.”
Lauren, 24, from Hertfordshire, hasn’t bothered wearing underwear for three days and washes her hair about once a week, leaving it until it “resembles a greasy bird’s nest”.
“I’m usually the cleanest person ever!” she insists. “But I’ve come to a point where I just don’t care. Why not take it a bit easy and be a bit gross? It’s not hurting anyone as I can’t see anyone, except my boyfriend, and he can’t leave me now as we have a joint mortgage!”
Deodorant has become a nice-to-have, not a must-have. “I’ve only got through one stick this whole year,” says Emily, 37, from Devon. “You do the maths.”
Loungewear, yes. Laundered, no
Much as been made of the lockdown fashion for loungewear. Many admit they opt for the comfiest clothing to hand – even if it’s not freshly laundered.
“You all can’t see but I’ve been wearing the same joggers for two weeks now, lol,” confessed one of our colleagues in our news meeting the other day.
HuffPost UK reader Anna, 33, from London, says she’s been has been showering, then putting the same trackies and jumper straight back on, while Grace, 26, from Manchester, jokes: “I’ve managed to wear holes into my lounge pants. I don’t know anything that’s more 2020 than that.”
New-mum Lucy*, 32, from Dorset, can’t even find the energy for actual clothes. “Our newborn dresses better than us,” she laughs. “I wash, change my pants and get straight back into PJs. It’s become a ritual.”
Tidy is as tidy doesn’t
During the first national lockdown, we couldn’t really be bothered to clean our houses. Eight months later, the nonchalance – or lethargy – has hit new levels.
“My kitchen is consistently covered in dirty dishes. My partner and I often both work late and we don’t have a dishwasher,” says Claire*, 32, from Essex.
“We are both working from home and are feeling a general sense of fatigue. And at the end of a long day, looking over at the never ending pile of dishes, we just do enough that we can clear a bit of the counter and carry over the remainders til the next day. And on and on and on.”
“I only tidy up when my partner visits, and he can’t right now because of the lockdown,” says Amna,* 39, from London. “I know I should keep hoovering and clean the shower for myself, but, honestly, it’s hard to find the motivation.”
You have to feel keen to clean
So what’s going on to make so many of us develop these habits that would make Mrs Hinch – and our pre-pandemic selves – gasp?
It may be that you’ve hit “pandemic fatigue”. Dr Sumera Shahaney, from health tracking company Thriva, previously explained to HuffPost UK that this can spark feelings of “inner weariness or worthlessness”. “Many people have now accepted that life has changed,” she said, “but we have lost resilience – we have no control over the future and are unable to see an end point.”
Or you may be lacking inspiration for a makeover – or basic cleanliness – because you’ve got so little inspiration around you. “We are not meant to live like this; we are social animals, albeit some more than others, and we gain energy and inspiration from experiences and convening with others, which we just aren’t getting right now,” Dr Peter Mills, from Cigna Europe, told HuffPost.
If this feels like your headspace, it might be worth trying some of these simple ideas to switch up your living space – and boost your mood in the process.
Of course, it could also be that you’re enjoying sitting in muck. After all, when have we ever had the excuse before? Whatever the reason, don’t be hard on yourself, because you’re definitely not alone. Sprucing yourself up might make you feel better, but if you really can’t be bothered, your secret’s safe with us.
*Some names have been changed to offer anonymity.
Covid-19 is more than a news story – it has changed every aspect of life in the UK. We are following how Britain is experiencing this crisis, the different stages of collective emotion, reaction and resilience. You can tell us how you are feeling and find further advice and resources here.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.