At least I think they’re a friend. I’m unsure whether we’re just friends. I can’t tell if we’re flirting over message or simply making conversation. The line has apparently become very blurred over the pandemic because the whole meeting people thing was put on hold. When was the last time I made a friend? I’m unsure. When was the last time I made a friend that wasn’t through a mutual friend? Even more unsure. Hence my confusion.
We went for a drink. We had a nice time. Did I feel mildly nervous? Yes. Was there banter and a lot of laughing you ask? Yes absolutely. But was I flirting or is that just how I talk? And was I making them laugh because I like them, or because I live for the ego boost? So many questions. I brought it up with my friends and, in an attempt to straighten it out in my mind, mentioned that I’m not sure where the uncertainty is coming from. I don’t normally automatically assume the people I meet are romantically interested in me.
‘Really?’ One of my friends replied. ‘I tend to assume everyone I meet is in love with me’
‘Same’ another added as she sipped her dirty martini. Calm down love, we’re far more Bridget Jones than Carrie Bradshaw.
So, are my existing friends ridiculously narcissistic or do they just carry the main character energy we should all strive to exist with? More uncertainty.
Unsurprisingly, I am probably just being dramatic. I do think it is just friendship, but it got me thinking about the way in which we form connections and the many different ways in which they come.
When my dog came to stay the other week, I became far more aware of the simplicity of interactions. We didn’t get on the tube without someone starting a conversation and I noticed people constantly reaching down to stroke Milo, almost subconsciously. It is funny that despite the varied busyness of our lives, most people exist with an underlying desire to care for and connect with the people around them. It’s often in a fleeting ‘good morning’, a casual ‘how are you?’ or a quick ‘can I stroke your dog?’ but it exists. Obviously, the past few years existed with far less meaningless interactions, and it’s nice to have them back again. I think that life works best as a balance of the meaningless and meaningful, of the intense and the casual, and, to circle back, a balance of the flirtation and the friendship. I’ll let you know when I figure out which one this is.
And just like that, I’m home and everything has changed so quickly. So quickly that even this paragraph I wrote 10 days ago is almost irrelevant but I thought I’d share in anyway.
‘It’s a strange time, there are moments where I forget that it’s real life. Grounded flights, countries on lockdown and barren supermarkets feels more like something out of a dystopian disaster film than a week in 2020. But that is what’s happening. It’s all anyone is talking about and it’s taken over a lot of people’s thoughts. I think partially because it’s a situation so out of anyone’s control, people like to be able to plan and control situations as much as possible but in this instance it’s impossible. I’ve been trying to plan my travels over the past week which has proved slightly difficult, the unknown creates a hesitancy to plan anything more than a few days in advance. My brother has just had to cancel his trip of a lifetime to India and another friend had to decide to postpone 5 months in South America the day before she was meant to fly. Obviously the virus is having a far worse effect on the health and livelihoods of others, it’s just the scale of the impact I can’t get over. Suddenly I’m wondering whether and when I’ll be able to get home and if I should be putting any kind of plan in place.’
Five days and much deliberating after that, I booked a flight home. A hard decision but the developments in the past week have reassured me it was the right one. If I’d stayed in Australia I wouldn’t have been able to travel, would’ve lost my job and just been stuck there, paying rent, on lockdown and on the other side of the world to the people I cared about. I was lucky, over the last couple of days it’s become pretty much impossible to leave Aus and all non-essential businesses have closed.
Being back feels strange, it’s like I never left, the past 10 weeks past are a hazy dream with golden edges. It’s been very different to the homecoming I’d imagined, there hasn’t been any excitement or big reunions with friends, no one is interested in hearing about my trip when there are so many more important things on people’s minds. I’m frustrated at myself, part of me feels I wasted the time. I went all that way and didn’t make it outside of Sydney, I didn’t see the best parts of the country or experience the any of the incredible scenery. But I’m just trying to remind myself that that’s ok and actually focus on what I did do rather than what I didn’t. I ate, drank and sunbathed my way around the city and felt what it’s like to live there, a luxury I shouldn’t take for granted. I met some wonderful people and I’ve been thinking that even if those friendships are the only thing to have come out of the past 10 weeks, then they were still definitely absolutely worth it.
There will probably be a final Australia post once the initial shock of this has all passed, there are photos and stories I still want to share but I’m not sure now is the right time. I hope you’re ok, that staying in isn’t driving you completely mad and the disruption to life isn’t too much, remember it’ll pass. Stay safe, stay inside and stay in touch x
Today, by complete accident, I found myself at the beach where my family celebrated New Years Eve back in 2006. It’s funny how these things happen. How you can stumble back to a place or a person from a different time and it seems like a whole life ago. I guess in this case it kind of was, a lot has changed since 2006, expectedly so. It would not be good if I still looked like I did in 2006.
I had the day completely to myself and it was brilliant. It made me think back to two years ago when I was in Cambodia on my own. I found it hard, I’m a sociable person and as much as I could chat to people, I found the fleeting connections frustrating and struggled to be in my own head so much. Today I didn’t have that problem. I read, swam, listened to podcasts, sunbathed, had lunch and did it all as and when I wanted. It sounds silly but when I realised I was so happy and content in my own company, I felt so aware of how far I’ve come and such a sense of self-assurance. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t come to Australia and decided I don’t need to see anyone else, I’ve met some great people and started some friendships but sometimes it’s nice to have a day of complete self indulgence.
Back home, two of my friends have just got new jobs, another is moving into her new flat, one has just finished their dissertation and another has just booked a ticket to South America and it got me thinking about the differences in lives at this age. I’ve found there’s no competition, no comparison, just support, happiness and encouragement. Everyone is just working out their own life in their own time and I’m so pleased we’re at this point. There’s so many options and none of them are right or wrong, it’s a time to do whatever you want without justification or explanation. It’s exciting and something that I found overwhelming a few years ago, like too much time on my own.
Ok, enough with all the cheesy sentimental stuff. Enjoy a few photos from the past week instead.
One final thing I will say about being on your own though is that there’s no one to watch out for sunburn so I’m now the colour of a well cooked lobster. A gentle reminder that we all need other people or a harsh reminder of my own stupidity? You decide.
Day 3 in Australia and this morning I went for coffee with a boy who didn’t have shoes on. He picked me up, drove to town, parked, walked to the cafe, bought our coffees, and it wasn’t until we sat down that I noticed he was barefoot and I thought yeah, I’m definitely in Australia now.
It’s been a long time coming so it feels strange to actually be here, to feel like I’ve been here for a while and to be settling into a routine.
It’s rained all day in Sydney. The heavy hot kind that you don’t mind feeling on your skin and letting it soak you to the bone. It feels cleansing, like it’s washing away the dust and flooding out the city so it’s ready for new things. It’s not like English rain, you don’t want to hide from it, you want to live in it, to experience it. And I feel ready to experience it.
Boarding the plane on Monday I wasn’t sure that I was. It was harder than expected to leave London behind, to leave the laughter and the happiness and the people for the unknown. I was surprised that for potentially the first time in my life, I didn’t want to rush on to the next thing, there was no burning desire to leave my world behind. I know that’s a good thing but it definitely made it harder to leave and made me doubt what I was doing. Why would you choose to leave guaranteed happiness for the unknown? But to think like that means there would never be new adventure or people or places and now that I’m here, I know that actually leaving was the hardest part.
The joy of the past few months means there’s no pressure on this trip anymore. It doesn’t need to be life changing or help me decide who I want to be or fulfil anything that was missing, that all happened before I left the country. I know that dancing around a kitchen in London can be just as good as lying on a beach in Sydney, maybe even better. Thinking about it now, you’ve got to find your happiness in the small stuff, in the day to day, the coffee and the dinners with friends and the dog walks. If it only came from trips to the other side of the world you’d so rarely experience it.
Ultimately, I feel so lucky to have people to miss, to have a life to miss and something to look forward to going back to, whenever that may be. In the meantime, I’ll be here, experiencing it all, throwing myself in, taking each day as it comes, eating a lot of brunch and working on my tan. Maybe I’ll even stop wearing shoes.
There is an unsaid common ground that comes from the bitterness of a morning coffee, something that people who would otherwise be miles apart can find solidarity in. It is the mundane of the daily routine, of the commute or the school run or the library session. It springs to the forefront of people’s minds as they awake to the world. It connects you to strangers, to the neighbour you see through their kitchen window as they finish their final sip before rushing out the door, to the person sat next to you on the train with their takeaway cup as you hurtle towards the city, to the barista you see every morning in all of your moods as they hand over your steaming lifeline.
It’s simplicity brings us together beyond the mornings, past the sleepy thoughts and into the challenges of the day. Into the afternoon meetings, the catch up with an old friend, the ‘would anyone like a coffee?’ at the end of a dinner party. It’s an ongoing feature, a comfort, a necessity, a habit, a treat. Communities form themselves around it as though it’s the heart, it pulls people towards a fleeting shared moment in the madness of their days.
I know I’m romanticising again but I’m in awe of the abundance of something so simple, of the daily presence of it in the lives of so many, lives that are so individual and far apart but not really. I’ve been thinking about this on my morning tube journey, we get the same trains, shop at the same places, cook the same things, read, watch and listen to the same things, drink the same things. There is simultaneously a world of similarities and differences within all of us. How wonderful.
Ah Bali. The land of endless smoothie bowls, extreme traffic and a surprising number of Australians. I can’t believe its been over 2 weeks since I got back from Indonesia, my tan is already fading and I’ve just about gotten back into the routine of home life but I still wanted to write a bit about the trip. We spent 8 days in Java, 16 in Bali and 5 in Lombok. Each island was amazing and it may be because we were there for the longest but its Bali I have the most to say about.
I know Bali is having a bit of a ‘moment’ right now. It’s all over people’s social media (mine included), Brits are taking the long-haul flight for a relatively short stay and on multiple occasions when I told people I was going they said ‘me too’. That being said, it was different to what I was expecting. Perhaps the attention it’s getting and some of the incredible photos I’d seen didn’t provide an accurate portrayal of the island or, I’d forgotten the difference money makes to a holiday. Either way, I felt some parts of the island were (and I don’t want to say overrated because that makes it sound too negative) not what I thought they’d be. It was busy and far more western than I was prepared for, the abundance of brunch places is ridiculous and I hadn’t realised that, unlike other destinations in Asia where you only see other travellers, there would be so many families. That being said, I thought I’d share some of the things we got up to and a few recommendations. There is plenty of information out there online but I think it would’ve been helpful to hear more of a first hand realistic account before we went, hence this post. If you have no interest in what I got up to (which is completely fair enough) I finish with a few more general thoughts on travel so skip away to the end. Also be warned there are lots of photos.
We arrived in Bali a couple of days ahead of schedule and, on the recommendation of someone we’d met in Java, decided to start off in Munduk. Starting there meant we weren’t quite prepared for the busyness of the rest of the island, the quiet northern village still feels very local and had very few other tourists. We stayed in a family run hotel called Swar Bali Lodge which was really nice, the brothers working there were so helpful, happy to give us lifts on the back of their motorbikes and recommend places to visit.
That being said, there isn’t loads to do in Munduk but there is a beautiful waterfall hike. The 5k route starts at Red Coral (Munduk) waterfall and didn’t take long. The three waterfalls en route were incredible, even more so because there were so few other people there. We also visited the Munduk Moding coffee plantation where we were talked through the process and got to try some of the coffee grown on site (for free which was a bonus).
Arriving in Canggu was very different. We were immediately aware of the number of tourists in the area. We had 4 days there which we essentially spent sunbathing and eating, some stand out spots being Crate cafe, Bali bowls and Quince. However, food prices were definitely much higher than what you might expect travelling, closer to a good value meal in the UK. The town is definitely an ideal spot for surfers but unfortunately and unsurprisingly, I don’t surf, so worth bearing in mind the beach is very windy with huge waves that can knock you right out. We did venture outside of Canggu one day to visit the Tanah Lot sea temple which was nice but there were bus loads of tourists there too and because you can’t actually go in the temple, there isn’t lots to do once you’ve seen it. Canggu was lovely but slow paced, just something to be aware of.
We thought Canggu was touristy but Seminyak was another level. Traffic was terrible and the streets were overflowing with people and shops. However, the food here was very good, we went to a place called Shelter for lunch, had brunch at Coffee Cartel and went to Dough Darlings (twice) for the most amazing doughnuts. Seminyak beach is windy too but we did see some baby turtles being released so that was pretty cool. We only had 2 days in Seminyak but because it was so busy it almost felt too overwhelming to explore, we spent most of the time on our motorbike going from beach to restaurant and even though you see things, it all goes past pretty quickly. It’s definitely a part of the island I think I found a bit much but would’ve liked to experience when it was quieter.
Ubud was far more chilled, a good mix of tourists and local culture, it felt like we were experiencing Bali again rather than a western beach town. The Monkey Forest is obviously touristy but a must do, likewise with the nearby waterfalls. The two we went to were very busy and I think if we hadn’t been to Munduk I would’ve been disappointed. The Tirta Emple water temple we went to where we bathed in the fresh spring water and the Tegalalang rice terraces were definitely both worth it despite being busy. We also did a bike tour with a company called Bali Breeze and a cooking class with Paon. Both were great and a chance to learn a bit more by chatting to locals and do something a bit different, the bike tour was downhill (ideal) and the food we made in the class was amazing.
Wandering around Ubud was nice too, we had the most amazing chocolate coconut banana bread at Tukies and managed to get all our souvenir shopping done at the market. I also did some classes at the Yoga Barn while we were there which was really nice but safe to say I haven’t kept it up…yoga in my room in Bedford is not quite the same as in a windowed studio in the jungle with the most ‘zen’ instructor I’ve ever met.
We didn’t do the main Gili Islands but Nusa Lembongan, about an hours boat trip from Bali, was amazing. A beautiful island with a relaxed and beachy vibe, it was almost what I expected Canggu and Seminyak to be like and I wished we’d spent more than a night there. The beaches were beautiful and we went over to the Blue Lagoon on Nusa Cenida which was amazing. Definitely worth the slightly damp boat journey there and back. However, be warned that the ‘roads’ marked on google maps are more like rocky steep crumbling tracks that a motorbike probably can’t handle…we may have learnt that the hard way.
Our final (and potentially my favourite) destination in Bali was Uluwatu. The area is far from crowded with plenty of space between everything, beautiful scenery and a good mix of locals and visitors. There were some beautiful beaches including Bingin beach and Padang-Padang (which features in the Eat Pray Love film) but be warned that quite a few of the beaches in the area are only accessible at low tide. We stayed in a basic but lovely hostel called the Bingin Inn and ate at the Cashew Tree, Loft and Drifter, all of which I’d recommend. The Kecak fire dance at Uluwatu Temple made our final temple experience a bit different, something that is again worth doing, but be prepared for lots of other people.
A final thing I’d say about Bali is do your research, but realise you can’t do everything. There physically aren’t enough meals in the day to eat at every nice place on the island or enough nights to spend at every beautiful hotel you see (I guess you could stay longer but my finances definitely didn’t allow it). Perhaps because it is such a popular destination at the moment I found it so easy to compare my experience of the island to other people’s…yes, I went on the trip of a lifetime and I was still there wondering if I was doing it ‘well’ enough…comparison is very clearly something I need to work on. Travel is tricky, its something that should be for personal reasons (relaxation, quality time, recovery) and yet I find it something people want to share the most, whether that’s posting pictures online or recounting stories to friends for weeks to come (or writing a blog post about it). It’s definitely something I’m guilty of, but maybe guilty is the wrong word, is there actually anything wrong with wanting to share what you’re doing, to let people know you’re enjoying yourself? Indonesia was a long time coming after a very long year and if I’m being honest, I had a bloody great time.
I meant to write this before I came on holiday, but there is a slight madness that comes just before you go travelling for a month so I’m writing it now, as I sit on an eight hour train hurtling its way through rural Java. Before I came to Indonesia, I spent a lot of time thinking about my body, partly because I was unhappy with it anyway and partly because I knew bikinis and swimming costumes were practically inevitable. The subject of body image and body confidence is a bit of a minefield and I speak with no authority, just my own experiences, and what I’m about to say is not to prove a point or seek compliments or educate anyone but to simply share my thoughts and add to an existing and necessary conversation. Ok, thats my disclaimer done.
For context, I am not an obviously large person, I’m a size 10-12 (Although I recently bought a pair of jeans that are a size 6 but that is a whole other issue), I exercise regularly, I like to think I eat relatively well but enjoy my food and drink but I definitely do not have the body I would like. Equally, I am aware that no one has the body they would like, they may have one they are happy with, but I don’t think I have ever met, or heard of anyone for that matter, who has the body of their dreams, who has met all of their goals and who wouldn’t change a single thing about themselves. How reassuring.
Some days I am happy with my body, I’ll wake up and feel there is room within me to breathe, that I am strong and proud of changes I’m making and my clothes are flattering. Other days I will feel so far from this that I cry when trying on dresses for events and flinch when anyone touches my stomach. This fluctuation is one I know I am not alone in experiencing but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. How can I eat whatever I want somedays and not notice a difference and yet be healthy another and feel 5x heavier? Why is there no clear rulebook? Everyone’s body is so different that a clear rulebook would be impossible to follow and I think this lack of logic, and as a result, understanding, has given so much prominence to today’s huge variety of diets and vitamins and lifestyles and routines on offer in an attempt to make us feel better about ourselves. I say this as someone who has tried a number of these and let me just say spirulina did nothing for me except smell and intermittent fasting is essentially just a fancy way of saying you skipped breakfast. Problems with my gut and excessive bloat have lead me to attempt to follow food combining (a way of eating based on digestion time that means you don’t mix your starches and proteins) most of the time and take a probiotic, both of which I ‘think’ have made a positive difference. However, I am aware of the huge likeliness of a placebo affect, of the priority of the ‘wellness’ industry to make money and the huge combination of factors that lead to feeling your best.
Obviously, social media does not help, we have the ability to access images of thousands of other people immediately and see what they are doing and how they look and yet, sometimes that does help. There is a huge online supportive body positive community, there are girls of all shapes and sizes encouraging exercise, not exercising, eating whatever they want, eating healthily, eating cake everyday. Whatever the content you are looking for, it exists, just make sure you are only taking in things that benefit you. Easier said than done though, I have spent many hours looking at body transformation pictures of girls who have been exercising for less time than me, who appear to eat ‘worse’ than me and yet have a body ‘better’ than mine. Life isn’t fair.
In my opinion, the only thing any of us can do, and perhaps should be doing, is attempting to feel our best, mentally and physically. If that is eating a pizza then brilliant, if its having a smoothie then great, if its doing both then wonderful. Your body is yours and yours only and your opinion is the only one you should be worried about. I exercise now out of habit, I don’t get smashed because I can’t handle the hangover and I have severely cut down my potato and milkshake intake since my first year of university. That being said, my sweet tooth remains persistent and if you think I won’t be eating my body weight in noodles and rice in Indonesia and will be bothering to exercise in this heat then you are very wrong. This is my dilemma, I want to eat the noodles, but I am on my way to Bali and I want to feel confident and happy, I don’t want to be comparing myself to the hundreds of beautiful skinny tanned girls and their smoothie bowls. Unfortunately, the two do not go hand in hand (noodles and my confidence, obviously a tan and a smoothie bowl is an excellent pairing).
So we are back to square one, the unsolvable issue, the endless circle and constant battle. I know the answer is balance but I’m yet to find the ideal level and I think I would rather seek acceptance than frustration over myself and a lack of change. Body neutrality is the idea that you are impartial to how your body looks, you focus on the incredible things it can do rather than its appearance, sounds ideal, but I’m just not there. Everyday is different, everyday I am changing and everyday I’m learning. I read somewhere recently (apologies I can’t find the original text) that any weight you struggle to lose is your life, it is the memories. It is the meals out with friends, the celebratory drinks, the takeaway with your family, the brunch on a Saturday and the dessert on a date and let me tell you, I intend to live my life, in the one body I have to do it in.
Side note: I obviously haven’t put any bikini or body pictures in this post, partly because that is clearly not the point and partly because I am not yet confident enough to, either way, it is intentional.
I spent about 3 hours yesterday evening trying to write something, anything. It did not go well. I struggled to think of what to write about, no idea I had seemed to work and I couldn’t find the words I wanted to say.
I don’t feel pressure to write on here, no one reads it and there is no obligation to post anything. However, I do want to. I want to share my thoughts and recommendations and the goings on in my life. I’m just still figuring out how to. As much as I like to think I have the words to share my thoughts on controversial topics, to discuss body image and feminism and mental health and sustainability and the environment and Brexit, I have no authority on any of those subjects. But, then again, I don’t really need to have any authority, a large number of people commentating society’s goings on are just opinionated. Maybe that is the issue, maybe I’m not opinionated enough. If I don’t know how I feel about things how can I expect to find the words to express myself. I have passionate friends, people who advocate for minority groups and know what they want to do with their career and have already worked hard to achieve great things. I just kind of bob along pretty averagely. I have never protested or written an article about something I disagreed with or started a career project or had an intense debate with someone who thought differently to me. I tried debating at school but would always end up agreeing with my opponent. Not really the point.
There is almost a disparity between the person I am and the person I want to be. The person I want to be writes interesting thought provoking pieces that she would be proud to show potential employers and start conversations about. The person I am struggles to think of anything to write about whilst Bridget Jones is on the TV in the background. She writes about how she can’t write. I don’t think I’m the only one who tells themselves they’re going to do things and then doesn’t, especially at this time of year when uni work needs to take priority, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
I’m done rambling for now, but if you have any ideas on how to get inspired please let me know…..
I don’t get a reading week at uni, but last week I took one. My family and I went to visit my cousin in Copenhagen as a surprise for her 21st birthday.
We arrived when the weather was at its finest which meant drinks in the sun rather than avoiding bitter winds. As a city, it reminded me of Amsterdam but perhaps slightly less ‘aesthetic’ with mixed architecture around the canals. The sun though, as it always does, made everything look beautiful. The 3 days were full of good food, family, exploring and danish pastries. Just a warning though, save your money before you go, its not a cheap city.
On our first day we had breakfast in a small courtyard café which focuses on Danish traditions, from the food the crockery. All the furniture in the café is for sale, so it doubles as a showroom which meant I felt bad for spilling the tiniest crumb. We spent the morning there just making plans and catching up.
We wandered around the Pleasure Palace garden’s (what a name) before stopping at another café. You may notice that this trip did focus around eating and drinking, I have no excuse. We moved on to the Christianshavn area and went into the Church of Our Saviour, its a simple but beautiful interior, home to 40 elephant figurines (we only counted 7 though). The tower above is 400 steps but definitely worth the climb, it gives you a great view of the city and helps to justify all those pastries.
The next day started with a boat tour, definitely something worth doing to see the city and learn more about it. We spent the afternoon in a slightly unusual way for a February day and went to La Banchina for a dip in the sea before rushing up to a little wooden sauna overlooking the water. Freezing, but it felt very danish. We had dinner at a lovely little restaurant called Basso which served amazing sharing plates from salmon to parmesan carrots to steak. Bistro Royal and The Studio were some other great restaurants from the trip.
On our last morning we had breakfast at the glass markets, some beautiful buildings in Norreport full of food stalls, coffee shops and of course more pastries. I would have loved more time to wander around and explore but sadly we had a plane to catch.
Copenhagen was beautiful, I could’ve done with a couple more days to explore but I guess I’ll just have to go back…
It is a strange time of year, it’s just before the Christmas festivities kick in properly but winter has definitely arrived, its dark before 4 and I don’t think I’ve seen the sun in at least a 10 days.
For the last week or so I think I’ve been out of sorts, I think lots of people have. It’s hard when the weather is so cold and all anyone can think about is university deadlines. There are also lots of things happening with my family at home so its hard to be away from them, I feel very distant. That being said, you’re not here to listen to me complain, so on a more positive note, here are a few of things that I’m appreciating and are helping to keep me (slightly) sane, they may work for you too.
Rubbish rom coms and Christmas films with whoever will watch them with me. Would recommend Texas based Forever my Girl on Netflix and I’m just days away from getting Love Actually on.
To do lists. Especially with small goals, everyday feels productive, even if I’ve just showered, can give that a tick.
Yes its cold, but trying to stay inside doesn’t mean retail therapy has to stop due to the wonder of online shopping. In my case its online browsing but still.
Christmas Markets may be overpriced and not quite the same as actually being in Germany but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth a visit, one of the best ways to feel festive.
Speaking of festive, I have decided there is no shame in buying an advent calendar for yourself, or asking someone to get one for you. Its the small things.
Food is a friend, especially in winter when you’re in layers rather than bikinis. Plan warm meals and spend time cooking with people.
I may not be middle aged but I’m loving Radio 2 (don’t laugh), I think because it reminds me of home, but its always nice to have on in the background. Or a podcast, I love The High Low and Pillow Talk (the fact I host the latter doesn’t change my opinion).
Facetime and phone the people you care about. It’s not the same as being with them but it helps.
Make plans. Whether its a coffee with a friend or what’s happening on New Years Eve, its good to have things to look forward to other than submitting an essay.
I hope that helps but if all else fails, whack on some Christmas music and whip out the mince pies, no judgement here.