Embrace Your Vices

How 2020 led us back to bad habits, and why we shouldn’t care.

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

Slate published an article on New Years Day 2020, (oh how hopeful we were) titled ‘In 2020, Skip Your Resolutions — Embrace a Vice’. Well, we certainly did.

For many, the pandemic destroyed healthy habits and encouraged us to use unhealthy coping mechanisms like overeating, increased alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, and even smoking.

Slate’s first examples of vices are tame: using Q-Tips, Twitter, and ditching family dinners. Then, they eerily predict the year ahead: smoke, doom scroll, go back to your ex, sleep in, drink on the job, and stop working out.

Their reason for embracing a vice? Feeling good.

In 2020 we desperately grasped at anything that would take the edge off, distract us from reality, and straight up feel good. So, should we stop in 2021? When the pandemic is over we cannot expect to immediately evolve into perfectly healthy balanced human beings in search of personal growth at all costs. We need to heal. We need to mourn. We need self compassion. Most of all we need time to adjust to our new normal. As the first week of 2021 has proved: nothing has changed yet, so why should we.

Locked down, we lost our ability to gather, a primal human need which contributed to a range of activities that gave us enjoyment. Naturally, we still wanted to feel good. At the bare minimum we want to survive. Much of the world is entering new phases of lockdowns in attempts to curb the virus. There is a line between self-preservation and self-destruction of course. However, let’s leave the self-help shame in 2019. If a glass of wine each night is your vice for relaxation, great. If that smoking habit can be kicked in 2022, but not now, who cares. If you’re not running half-marathons in your living room, good for you.

Let’s call it what it is — we are living through a chaotic, painful, traumatic period of history. And no one is having sex. To relieve yourself of the shame associated with a ‘bad’ habit is the kindest gift you could bestow on your mental health during the pandemic. There are even books suggesting vices spurred on civilisation. We’re human after all, we seek coping methods to survive.

Life is short. Let’s enjoy it.

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