Natasha Rothwell is booked and busy—normally. The former Saturday Night Live writer produces, writes in, and stars on HBO’s Insecure, which drops its highly anticipated fourth season on Sunday, April 12. She also has an overall deal with HBO, and is developing her own project with the network, which she will star in, write, and executive produce. She’s going to be in the freaking Wonder Woman sequel. She works hard and has a great dog. She’s a walking vision board.
But like you, she’s living through a pandemic. And so, her schedule has changed.
“We’re in the wild west as far as habits,” she says, of life during coronavirus. “Sometimes I’ll be like, ‘Oh man, this is a midnight snack!’ and I’ll look at the clock and be like ‘Oh. It’s 9 p.m. and I’ve been getting ready for bed since 4 p.m.’ We’re definitely in uncharted territory.”
Winding down for the night feels different when you’re living in conditions no one alive has ever experienced. Natasha Rothwell gamely walked us through her bedtime routine these days, which includes baths, popsicles, fires, jazz, and dealing with the fact that, right now, “Loneliness is part of the solution.”
The life-changing art of tidying up during a crisis:
I think that never in my adult life have I been handed this much time without expectation. I’m so used to filling my time with things, and there’s not enough things to fill this time! So I’m just trying to find moments to decompress and not be thinking about this crisis 24/7, which is hard. Right now, I like to tidy my space. I think because I’ve found as I learn more about myself that my environment really does reflect my internal, sort of shade of being. If things are messy I know that I need to tidy inward and outward. I try to make sure that my space is calm and clean and feels like it’s not something that I’m trying to get away from. I think my kind of over-cleaning is a direct result of the fact that loneliness is a part of the solution, in this new state. And so on a day when I have some anxiety, I’ll be a bit more clean around the house, and I feel like I’m participating in the solution.
Taking your loungewear look from day to night
Whereas before my routine would be getting into pajamas, now it’s taking off my work pajamas and putting on my nighttime pajamas! Being able to luxuriate in my nighttime routine is not something that I was consistently doing before. I try to turn off the news, and turn on HGTV or The Office or put on music, and just sort of separate my day from my life (I like the jazz Es—Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt, Édith Piaf). I seek comfort and familiarity right now—my sweatshirt from college, and drawstring pants that have holes in them. And then also later-in-life luxuries, like my Parachute robe that I love. It’s really comfy. I like to have one thing that’s familiar and one that’s a bit more decadent.
My makeup-free skincare routine
My sort of no-makeup skincare routine during quarantine: Cetaphil is my steady Eddie. And then afterwards, depending on what my skin is doing, I use a toner to make sure that my pores are tight and not as responsive to acne from anxiety as they’ve been lately. Then I’ll do this evening moisturizer from Sunday Riley and then the Caudalie night oil, and that’s about it. Depending where I’m at emotionally, it might be more or less indulgent. It’s fun to see what’s working with my skin and how my body is responding to the cool products that I may not have had time to experiment with before, but now I do.
The delightful life of adult braces
I use Sensodyne because I have very sensitive teeth, and then a veritable bevy of Listerine products. I have braces behind my teeth—it’s called Inbrace —I’m not doing a commercial for them at all, but it does make it tricky at night. But I have the GUM interdental brushes that get in between the braces. It’s adolescent braces shit. When am I supposed to get them off? Well, who’s to say, because I was supposed to get my braces adjusted before this went down, so I’m hoping that it’s not prolonged by the lack of adjustment, but hopefully by October.
The no-phone-in-bed exceptions
I’ve been dabbling in meditation, and it’s been a really important process. I think that meditation should be in everyone’s toolbox and I’ve definitely been taking it out of my toolbox and using it to sort of bookend my day feel a little bit of calm amidst the storm. I do Headspace, which I really enjoy—it’s very accessible. I try not to play on my phone right before bed, although it’s become increasingly hard, but lately my family and friends, we’ve been on Marco Polo. I try to let my last engagement on the phone be looking at my family’s Marco Polos from the day and just seeing their faces and that they’re good and healthy.
I love melatonin—I try to use it infrequently because I don’t want to be dependent on it, but it’s nice and calming for moments when if I need a little bit of extra help to wind down.. I use about five milligrams, no particular brand. I definitely am team cocktail-at-dinner or glass-of-wine-before-the-brushing-of-the-teeth happens! I also really like sugar-free popsicles—there’s something so soothing and quick and easy about them.
The magic of burning things
I love candles. I have a whole shelf dedicated to them in my closet. If the day calls for a bath, I’ll light some candles and get in the bath and listen to music and really try to be as present as possible and not let the anxiety get the better of me. For me, smell is a very sort of strong, triggering sense. I can smell a little bit of something and instantly be 15 again. It’s a little bit of a time machine. It’s a nice thing to take me on a journey when I can’t go anywhere.
Right now I’m burning a Diptyque candle, which was a gift, and is definitely a gift in this moment. They smell amazing. I have all kinds of candles and I do not discriminate. Your two-for-five Glade vanilla candle gets me through as much as a $50 Diptyque candle. Not to get too woo-woo, but lighting a fire and burning something feels a little transformative.
Advice from a professional
My therapist challenged me with a question that I’ve found really sort of awesome, which is—at the very end of isolation when we can look back on how we spend our time, what do we want to have said about the time we’ve been given? I try to, at least at the end of the day, think about what I did that day to help me reach that goal.
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.