Goop’s Elise Loehnen on self-care for the new normal

A woman standing in front of her desk and colour coordinated bookshelf.

As we start to come out of self-isolation, the lifestyle brand’s Chief Content Officer shares the wellness practices she’ll maintain even when we enter our new reality

By Praachi Raniwala   Image by Nicki Sebastian .  Tuesday 30 June, 2020   Short read

As Chief Content Officer of Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle and wellness brand, Goop, Elise Loehnen is perhaps one of the best placed individuals to guide us through these unprecedented times. 

In isolation in Los Angeles, with her husband and two children since mid-March, Loehnen found herself having to develop a new regime to maintain her sense of balance and well-being. While lockdown shows signs of easing, it’s clear that we will be entering yet another new normal. Here, Loehnen shares the new self-care practices she developed during her time at home that she plans to carry into the next phase.

Create a work-life balance
‘After sitting at my desk from 7.30am to 5pm, without any breaks in the early days of working from home, I decided to get rigorous about scheduling in time for myself. I factored in lunch, walks, trips to the grocery store and big chunks of time to think. Organisational psychologist Adam Grant posted something on Instagram about how the pandemic has extended the average working day by two to three hours. He suggested reversing the trend by trying six-hour days or four-day weeks. I certainly work in waves of productivity, so I’m finding ways to organise my time to allow that to happen.’

Make to-do lists
‘I’ve taken to writing daily to-do lists with even the most obvious things on them, like “take a shower” or “read two books with [my son] Max”. It makes me feel more productive in a time that’s not engineered for getting a lot done.’

Set weekly intentions over daily goals
‘My days are littered with good intentions, but with a weekly quota rather than a daily one. So, I’m trying to make dinner four to five times a week, not fixed to particular days. I’ve been leaning on The Milk Street Cookbook by Christopher Kimball and The Classic Pasta Cookbook by Giuliano Hazan. I’m trying to go out for walks four to five days a week, and to do two to three tougher workouts by Tracy Anderson. I’ve also made a list of books I’d like to read by the end of quarantine: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, There I Am by Ruthie Lindsey, Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders and Circe by Madeline Miller.’   

Turn inwards
‘I’ve been doing a lot of somatic experiencing, a form of alternative therapy developed by Dr Peter A. Levine. When I’m gripped by anxiety, I find a second to put my hands on my body where I’m feeling tight. I stay quiet and just ask my body what’s up. It works. You can also use Dr Levine’s Voo exercise. You say “voo” deeply, like a chant, so that it vibrates your belly, or wherever you feel pain or tightness. Then just see what comes up for you.’

Embrace the uncertainty
‘Fear is about losing what you have, and worrying that you won’t get what you need. The future is uncertain. But life is uncertain, always, not just in times of a pandemic. The more you can try to work with both of those things, and push into the reality of them, the more grounded you will feel. It is hard work, but so worth it. Speaking of “the work”, this is a good time to get into Byron Katie and self-enquiry with her “four questions and turnarounds”.’

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