Sturdy clothes and staying calm in a pandemic

— by Alyson Walsh

Photos: Claire Pepper

Everyday life has changed quite dramatically since my last blog post. And like many others, I am feeling quite fretful about the Coronavirus Pandemic. I live in London with Mr That’s Not My Age (a third of reported UK Coronavirus cases are here), my family are up north and in America. My older brother lives with my 86-year-old mum and despite health issues is still going out to work (in the food industry). My younger brother is self-isolating in New York after a recent trip to France. But we must try to carry on with the day-to-day and not slip into a Pandemic Panic. My friend the meditation and mindfulness expert and spiritual teacher Meredith Gunderson has written a post with advice on reducing anxiety during a global panic, this week. I thought it might be useful to share some of her thoughts on the matter:

‘Coronavirus is beyond our control but what we do have control over is our responses, our choices, our behaviour,’ says Meredith. As mindfulness meditation is part of her practise, she recommends the technique of labelling our thoughts. ‘Kierkegaard said, “Once you label me, you negate me,’ Meredith explains,  ‘Label the anxiety.  Like, “Oh, hello Coronavirus anxiety, you are here, yes that makes sense” and move on. You acknowledge anxiety is present and stop there – rather than reacting to it or being scared of it.’

Dipped hem detail

The mental health charity Mind recommends switching off the news and social media if it is making you feel anxious – and I have vastly reduced my Twitter consumption. The relentless Pandemic Panic was freaking me out. Instead I’m sticking to one news programme (Channel 4 News) on TV in the evening. As a northerner, I’ve been social distancing all my life, so I’m staying indoors but taking a good long walk with Mr That’s Not My Age every afternoon. Spending time outdoors feels like a luxury when other countries are in complete lockdown, I’m making the most of this as I suspect that we’ll be in a similar situation next week. While staying connected to family and friends has become another priority, I’ve spoken to my mum more in the last week than I have in the that 12 months. Now there’s an upside, Covid-19 improves communication….

In this period of readjustment and realignment, Meredith suggests that this ‘global disruption provides huge opportunities.’ That this is a chance to find our new normal and concentrate on the important stuff, including:


~ Caring for our communities as best we can, sharing (there’s enough to go around so no need to hoard), checking in with people, working together as we are hard-wired to do.

~ Having time to speak with loved ones near and far, having a natter, checking in.

~ Trusting in and celebrating our collective creativity and ingenuity to meet challenges.

~ Appreciating the crap out of our lives and the people that make our lives comfortable and secure. Big shout out to health workers, people who work at grocery stores, anyone who delivers anything.


And yes, we love our brilliant NHS and all its heroic staff more than ever.

Utility chic


With all this social distancing and ‘staying in time’ on our hands, rather than being consumed by Corona-panic we can be creative. Practise new outfit combinations, spend time sewing or making and I have a decluttering plan percolating. Plus, there are any number of brilliant box-sets to binge-watch. As Meredith points out, slowing down is one of the things we want to do more of anyway. We’ve just finished watching  Detectorists on BBC4 with Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones, there’s Sex Education (Gillian Anderson and her marvellous wardrobe), Better Call Saul and Money Heist on Netflix, and Secrets of the Museum on BBC2. And there are books to read. Mr That’s Not My Age has just started Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror & the Light and I have Kiley Reid’s ‘Such a Fun Age’ and Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other lined up. Other books I’ve read over the last year and can recommend, include: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak, Educated by Tara Westover, Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout and The Falconer by Dana Czapnik. And if you haven’t listened to my podcast series, now might be a good time to tune in.


I hope you and your families are safe and well, and staying calm.

With love and best wishes,



*Please note affiliate links in this post may generate a commission. 


STYLE NOTES: On reading about my fondness for sturdy, utility clothes, John Lewis very kindly sent me some Kin clothing to test drive. The balloon trousers in neutral, the Japanese workwear jacket and the elliptical hem cardigan (it’s a much nicer colour than it looks on the website). The hi-tops are my own Good News and are made from organic cotton and recycled rubber. Somehow utility dressing feels right just now.


Read Meredith Gunderson’s blog HERE. More advice on how to protect your mental health during the Coronavirus Pandemic HERE.

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Everyday life has changed quite dramatically since my last blog post. And like many others, I am feeling quite fretful about the Coronavirus Pandemic.