Sweeping changes to our way of life are putting a heavy strain on individuals and communities. These are trying times, and we have all been affected in one way or another: even for those who are staying healthy, the impact on physical and mental wellbeing is palpable. That is why we feel it is essential for one and all to safeguard moments of respite from the news cycle: now is the time for diligent and intelligent self-care.
But now is also the time to think of others and reach out, even if remotely, to those in need of support—whether it’s an isolated neighbour, a far-flung grandparent, or a friend who has lost a job—or, even worse, someone. An email, an old-fashioned letter, anything can help—even sending them a favourite essay that has sustained you through dark times before, or a recipe that never fails to bring solace.
In these trying times, we are awed by the healthcare workers on the frontlines: any other effort to make a positive contribution is dwarfed by their bravery and selflessness. Still, in a much more modest attempt to sustain the mind and body, over the next few months we aim to share some of the things that bring us comfort in times of need. We have long been known for our propensity to recommend books, films or exhibitions to anyone who will listen, be it through our online channels or the conversations our consultants have in stores. But in the present circumstances, we are more convinced than ever of the redeeming qualities of the arts, philosophy, and good unpretentious food.
So from Tuesday 31 March, we will unveil playlists geared towards relaxation, recovery or productivity, including a children’s selection to give parents shelter from nursery rhymes. We will suggest daily rituals conducive to physical and mental balance. We will send out selections of insightful reading, because literature has seen us through many a crisis before. Those in the throes of loneliness, for instance, we will point toward Thoreau’s musings on ‘Solitude’, a certain Billie Holiday rendition of the eponymous Duke Ellington standard, or Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles—all illustrations of how isolation can help grapple with what Heidegger called the Mystery of Being.
At present, many will have to experience these from the strict confines of the home, an environment that is a far cry from the comfortable and comforting sanctuary it could be. And if there is anything that two decades of designing welcoming spaces has taught us, it is that attention must be paid to all the senses—scents and sounds in particular too often go neglected.
With this in mind, Aesop products are particularly apt to foster customers’ physical and mental wellbeing in the current climate. Our Hand Care offerings include several options to ensure impeccable hygiene, but also to comfort hands facing dryness and irritation from all the necessary washing and disinfecting. Our Home Care range, with its Essential Oil Blends and Room Sprays, can help create a relaxing or uplifting environment. These can also make thoughtful gifts for walled-off loved ones.
We have been heartened in recent days to hear about what some of our staff have been up to—such as consultants sewing masks for those at risk, or an HR officer (and former practicing psychologist) offering virtual counselling sessions to her colleagues. Whether stuck at home or able to roam about, our recommended approach is to take meticulous care of both self and others—to practice self-care and selflessness, in equal measure.
‘Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.’ William James