Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 19, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home International Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

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Groundhog Day

Image: Geralt; Pixabay

Tabitha Hannam gives us a rundown of how to preempt the onset of a Groundhog Day, listing some fresh ideas which could help tend the lockdown blues.

Although it is a frequently parsed cliché that we should live for the small things in life, the January lockdown has convinced me that this truism helps stave off the interminable feeling that you live in Bill Murray’s endless 1993 cult classic Groundhog Day. The 8am coffee is inevitably followed by online classes, lunch and maybe even that walk which was new and exciting in April, but certainly not now, when you have to wade through squelchy mud, slithering to the bottom of the hill.

In a few days’ time, it will be 11 months since the first lockdown in the UK, a span of time that is problematic to comprehend when the regular meters of life have been suspended, and replaced with the metronome of Boris Johnson’s national appearances on television. The inclement weather and early sunsets at this time of year are always stumbling blocks to getting outside and soaking in the much-needed winter sunshine, but this year they have heightened the gloom of the groundhog day cycle. Like many, I have tried my hand at multiple different coping mechanisms over the past months and here are some of my favourites.

Write a quick list of objectives for the day

Make them all relatively easy to achieve – you will gain great satisfaction from ticking them off by the end of the day. They can be as simple as wash your hair and empty the kitchen bins, or a reminder to spend fifteen minutes polishing up your CV before you send it off to the Exeter Career Zone. By setting simple tasks, you can look back on your day-to-day life and visibly see a variety of activities that you get up to each day.

Make a hot drink and savour the flavour as you sip it

Films, TV series and adverts saturate our world with depictions of grabbing a quick coffee for the walk to work, or making a cup of tea to drink alongside university catch-up. Perhaps one day a week, instead of rushing the process, enjoy the two or three-minute lull in activity whilst the tea leaves steep in the boiling water. Watch the coffee grounds settle to the bottom of the cafetiere, and then appreciate the swirl of colour as you pour the coffee into the milk that is waiting in your mug.

Send a postcard to a friend

In the age of instant messaging, sending cards as a form of communication may seem extremely outdated, and perhaps even a pointless exercise. However, I’ve found real solace and joy in the methodical process of letter writing; the physical act of putting pen to paper and watching, as your hand instinctively traces out the letters that were painstakingly taught to us in primary school, is a therapeutic application that requires little thought. Perhaps another one of the pleasures of scrivening is that it does not require any form of technology, which, when we rely on our screens for communication, entertainment and education, is a wonderful way to switch up your day. And, of course, the thrill of finding an envelope addressed to you on the doormat in the recognisable handwriting of friend, is one of the benefits you reap.

Two lockdowns later and the novelty of baking has likely worn off, and become another feature of an endless groundhog day.

Don’t set an alarm – luxuriate in bed

One of the principal differences between pre-pandemic life and the present is that we no longer need to wake up as early in order to get to labs and lectures on time. If you’re fortunate enough to live on campus, you won’t have experienced the long trek up one of Exeter’s many hills, arriving slightly out of breath and feeling decidedly green from the previous night’s mischief. Although I miss those nights as much as the next girl does, on the bright side it means that you don’t have to wake up to a shrill alarm and force yourself out of bed in one sickening motion. Rather, you can luxuriate in bed a little longer, revelling in the feel of the soft sheets swathing you like a cocoon, and listen to the sounds of the house as it wakes up.

If the first lockdown was all about how to be the most productive with your time, the subsequent periods have definitely been a lesson in self-compassion, and a willingness to listen to what your body needs, rather than the constant movement and improvement that society champions. Sometimes, a moment of stillness can help reset your day, and make you determined to find something different in the air that you have breathed since the beginning of January.

Late night baking

During the first lockdown, banana bread and sourdough were the two main ingredients on Instagram feeds across the country, friends proudly showing off their walnut toppings and perfectly browned crusts in order to keep busy whilst at home. Two lockdowns later and the novelty of baking has likely worn off, and become another feature of an endless groundhog day.

Two lockdowns later and the novelty of baking has likely worn off, and become another feature of an endless groundhog day.

In early December, I found myself suffering from severe jet lag after returning home from my semester abroad in the US. The small hours of the morning were suddenly the enemy, a time for overthinking, so I turned to baking in an effort to occupy my hands and still my brain. Since the rest of the house was asleep, I challenged myself to bake with as few appliances as possible, exchanging the use of an electric hand mixer for an old-fashioned creaming with a wooden spoon. Instead of melting the chocolate and butter in a microwave, I actually used a bain-marie for the first time in my life, watching as the perfect, solid squares slowly lost their defined edges and combined with the butter.

You realise that baking can be full of laughter, music, and the frantic energy of whisks beating the egg whites into stiff peaks, but there is another undeniable enjoyment in the slow, contemplative and gentle work of a quiet kitchen.

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