The Existential Expert covers lockdown despair … and self-care!

The Existential Expert responds to your questions. Photo: Pixabay/LEEROY Agency.

In the latest edition of The Existential Expert, we cover the essential issues: lockdown “catastrophising” – and the importance of good foot maintenance. 

Q: I know everyone’s going through this but I’m SO depressed about lockdown and feel like life will never be the same. Like the life we had is gone forever. Am I just catastrophising? Any advice?

Marc, via Twitter

The Existential Expert:

Hi Marc,

Firstly, we feel your pain – it does feel like humanity turned a corner sometime in the last few months, and, by some unfortunate cosmic quirk, Gladys was in charge of the GPS. 

Yes, life will never be the same and feeling a sense of loss that verges on catastrophic is understandable. 

That said, “catastrophising” makes it sound like these are irrational thoughts. Which is a bit unfair, considering the uncertainty of the times – exacerbated by the doom nexus of the 24-hour media cycle. 

Still, if you need any perspective, perhaps rest assured that the impacts of climate change are almost certainly going to have a far more catastrophic impact on your life than Covid. Yeah?

Anyway, try to focus on what you can change. Your habits, your health, your work. 

It might help, as is standard advice, to find some consolation in all the positives in this scenario. 

For example, you now have carte blanche to forgo basic standards of human hygiene, you no longer have to make excuses not to go see your friends’ fringe theatre shows, your very existence is a miracle in the first place, etcetera. 

At the same time, don’t be afraid to face the reality of the situation head on. Denying that it is a big bag of flaming garbage, won’t help you process it. In fact, it may exacerbate your depression – because, after all, the stink will linger even while you’re convincing yourself otherwise. 

The gratitude researcher Lilian Jans-Beken and existential positive psychologist Paul Wong created an Existential Gratitude Scale – which measures the extent to which people can find gratitude in any part of life, not just the obviously good bits. 

This includes being grateful for shitty circumstances – not because of their inherent awfulness, but because of their opportunity for growth. Humans are surprisingly resilient and our lowest moments are often a pathway to some of our best. And actually, studies have shown a significant tendency toward gratitude during times of crisis. 

Look ahead to a new appreciation of your life, to resilience tempered with greater awareness. Perhaps this lockdown is just you what you needed, Marc? 

All the best on your journey. 


The EE

New strength can be found in adversity. Photo: Richard Mcall / Pixabay.

Q: This lockdown has provided so much time to confront the absolute mess that is my feet. I’ve never had so much time to notice them before – heels are cracked, toenails are burrowing for China, toes are knobbly with callouses. Does self care oblige me to give my hooves an overhaul?”

Leah P., Camperdown

Thanks Leah. If you can stomach it – yes, sure. 

We advise doing anything right now that will make you feel more comfortable being you. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with treating yourself under the circumstances. 

Don’t do it for anyone else, though. Unless your physiognomy is slightly unusual, your feet shouldn’t be visible in the standard Zoom call to the boss to pretend you’re doing some work – so there’s even less reason to care about what anyone else thinks. 

That said, you need to be mindful of anyone that might be sharing the space. Note: this rule applies to any sort of trim, pluck, tuck, scrape, yank, lance, squeeze, pop or general revamp you opt to do about your person.

And whether you live alone or not, we always recommend laying down some plastic sheets before you attempt any major cosmetic work. 

All the best, Leah! 


The EE

A panacea for uncertain times, The Existential Expert is a forum where the Sentinel will address the essential questions, you – our readers – have posed. If you have a conundrum, whether it’s spiritual, philosophical or just something that makes you break out in a rash, tweet or DM us @sydney_sentinel. New columns published each Sunday.

Disclaimer: The advice provided in this column is no substitute for professional advice, and should not be treated as such.