As the summer kicks off and the world reopens, many of us are returning to brunches, the movies, kickbacks and all kinds of functions. It’s safe to say that we’re all trying to reclaim what the Coronavirus has stolen from us. Only time and perhaps therapy will allow for true healing from our collective losses, but now feels like the time to remember the pleasures of pre-pandemic times.
For the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, the spirit of “hot girl/boy/person summer” flows through us, and there’s a strong desire to reconnect with our pleasure, be it the pleasure of partying with friends, traveling again, or making out with someone new.
When the pandemic was at its worst and every day was a repeat of the last, and joy was in short supply, pleasure felt especially foreign to me, and it felt nearly impossible to enjoy the things that typically stir up happy feelings.
I didn’t want to self-pleasure or seriously attempt to date, ordering out no longer felt like a treat, watching my favorite shows didn’t hit the same way, and every day felt like a vicious cycle of grief and sadness. And now, slowly but surely, lightness and laughter are finding many of us again, and it’s a beautiful thing, but it’s also a little overwhelming.
Some folks are throwing all caution to the wind and going mask-free everywhere, clubs are being packed again, and the mad dash to have everyone back to spreading germs and cramming their social calendars is anxiety-inducing. It’s valid to want to dive headfirst into all the things right now, but pacing ourselves is important in order to acknowledge that we are still (and may always be) living in a Covid-world and to help us balance navigating collective trauma while also going after the joy we so desperately need. Regardless of where you are on your re-entering the world journey, here are six ways to reclaim your pleasure (of all kinds) right now.
1. Try new foods.
Many of us fell into eating whatever foods were convenient or ordering out every day just to have something to do while quarantined, it’s time to make food a pleasurable experience again. Ordering food at home was the only option available to us for a long time, so getting food delivered no longer felt like a treat. To bring some novelty back into my eating, I’ve decided that I’m only going to spend money on food if I’m eating at a restaurant, be it indoors and as far away from others as I can be or outdoor dining. If you also fell into a food rut during quarantine, make it a point to try cuisine that you’ve always wanted to try, eat the things you’ve never thought about trying, and remember what it feels like to be excited about a meal again.
2. Assess your self-pleasure practices.
The early days of the pandemic were bogged down with death, anger, and grief for so many reasons, and so many areas of our lives were impacted, including our sex lives. And if the pandemic killed your libido for a period of time, you’re not alone. Now is a great time to re-engage with self-pleasure, especially if you’re wary about being physical with someone new. You are your best lover. So replace your old vibrator, or switch up your self-pleasure practices, and get to know your body again.
Our bodies store all of our emotions, and as we grapple with all of the physical effects of living through a pandemic, it’s helpful to give our bodies some release, in whatever ways feel good and are accessible to us. Be it dancing to some Megan thee Stallion alone in your room, twerking on somebody’s cute son/daughter/child, or finally taking that dance class that you didn’t get to take last year. You don’t have to be coordinated and the goal doesn’t have to be to break a sweat, but after two years engaging in some joyful movement can’t hurt.
4. Play tourist.
It’s okay if you aren’t ready to do major travel yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore your surroundings. You don’t have to book a major getaway in order to be a tourist. Start right where you are. Even if you’ve lived in the same place forever, there can still be new things to see. Keep an eye out for new exhibits, restaurants, or attractions and get to know your city or town in new ways, until you’re able to take your dream trip.
5. Connect with your inner child.
The older we get the more our lives become about responsibility and obligation, and less about play and leisure, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And if Coronavirus taught us anything, it should be that life is extremely short, and that we deserve an abundance of fun and carefree energy, no matter our age. One way to create that abundance is through connecting with your inner child, and remembering how to play again. Think of all the things that made you feel happy and free as a kid. Think about the things that you wish you had been able to do more of, and then find small ways to do one or some of those things each week. Draw and paint. Blow bubbles. Play with slime. Watch cartoons or play video games, have a game night with friends or family, and give your inner child some love.
Pleasure can be found in many ways, and many of those ways can be small and gradual, but taking advantage of those small moments can have a big impact on our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health, and you can start right where you are now.
Tiffany Lashai Curtis