Footwear is such a personal choice. We dress our feet to express moods from conservative and focused, to cheerful and festive, to zany and whimsical.
Additionally, the right footwear can make the difference between staying on our feet and being knocked off our feet. We depend on our feet for so much—exercise, body heat regulation, circulation, and the oldest form of transportation. We ask a lot of our feet. They take a beating almost every day, and we fail to care for them at our peril. Treat them right, and they will walk us across every finish line life presents to us.
With COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in place in cities, states, and countries all over the world, socks have taken center stage in the footwear drama. Millions of people find themselves in the position of working from home for the first time, “barefoot entrepreneurs” who can set their own dress codes! The temptation to work in pajamas or underwear is high, as is the desire to go barefoot.
Wearing socks around the house has many advantages, however. Socks protect your feet from rough, coarse, or sticky floor surfaces and prevent your feet from picking up crumbs and debris. They create a second skin around your feet, allowing them to retain moisture. This helps keep the skin of your feet supple and smooth, despite the pressure they receive throughout the day. Without this kind of care and protection, painful cracks and calluses can form, reducing your quality of life and the ability of your feet to do their job.
Wearing socks around the house has additional benefits. Socks help your body regulate its heat. Much heat is lost through the extremities in cold weather. Even in hot weather, the feet sweat more than other parts of the body. Anyone who has smelled an old pair of shoes or an unwashed pair of socks knows this for a fact. Socks help wick sweat away from your feet, keeping them dry and preventing them from cooling the body down too much in response to great heat.
Wearing socks around the house can also:
- Improve circulation and prevent blood clots.
- Preserve athletic ability during exercise by preventing blisters and calluses.
- Reduce pain in the muscles, bones, and joints of the foot.
You probably didn’t know your socks were shouldering this much burden in your personal comfort, because you had no reason to. You wore socks as a matter of course—to work, out on errands, to bars and restaurants and movie theaters and all the many activities that the pandemic stripped away.
People sheltering in place are instead making the decision to go barefoot in the house or choose socks, slippers, or shoes. Shoes may be a lot to ask of people making the best of the “new normal,” but socks may be the way to go.
Anyone who keeps track of the news understands what is at stake during the pandemic. Phrases like “flatten the curve” and “social distancing” have entered the lexicon in a big way. What feels like house arrest is actually an important safety measure to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by the patients who will experience COVID-19 as a critical respiratory disease, communicable enough that hospitals could run out of beds and ventilators which may result in unnecessary deaths.
Often lost in the conversation about “flattening the curve,” however, is the fact that being human is not just a binary state of “alive” and “dead.”
Epidemiologists have their expertise. From their data and point of view, we won’t be shaking hands or hugging for some time. Why worry about whether someone has a nice smile when a new policy of masks in public could prevent the virus from leaping from one person to another? Epidemiologists have even suggested attempting to slow the spread not just by social-distancing from strangers, colleagues, or acquaintances, but from spouses and children if one family member is ill—after all, the coronavirus respects no family boundaries.
But we all know that it doesn’t work that way. Quality of life matters. Love and relationships matter. A sense of purpose and community matter. Even as we strive to prevent death, we must take care of each other and ourselves to stave off the low morale that can easily lead to bad habits or even mental illness and continue the virus’ grim harvest.
Can something as simple as socks help us preserve our sanity and improve our quality of life? In our own humble way, we think yes. Here are three roles socks could play in getting us through the challenges of “sheltering in place.”
One popular meme circulating about the “new normal” goes like this:
HAPPY FRIDAY, AS IF IT MATTERS.
With few of the usual social and society relief valves available to us—entertainment, dining, parks, even the work commute gone–one day can seem to blend into the next. It’s easy for this kind of existence to begin to feel pointless. Various self-care activities can start to fall by the wayside.
Making the bed or doing laundry? Too much effort. Sweeping or vacuuming? Why bother. The apathy can extend to personal self-care, as well. Anyone growing a “quarantine beard”? What about not bothering to brush your teeth or shower?
Sheltering in place doesn’t have to mean devolution into caveman existence. Trying to get back on track and establish a healthy routine in the midst of what seems like the apocalypse? Pull on a clean pair of comfy, cushy socks. Think of it as girding for battle. You’re doing one little thing to care for yourself in the midst of a crisis. Tomorrow, or next week, you can do another thing—make the bed or brush your teeth.
Self-care isn’t the only watchword. If you are concerned about the physical and mental wellbeing of a loved one isolated by quarantine orders, consider putting together a care package, including several pairs of clean, fun, or cheery socks.
A return to normality starts with a small step. Socks are all about small steps.
Speaking of fun and good cheer, take it from No Cold Feet: socks can be your own little sartorial statement around the house. Yes, you are wearing them to keep your feet healthy, but that doesn’t mean they have to be plain white or black socks.
Gird yourself for remote work by wearing a nice pair of striped or Argyle socks. Celebrate Casual Friday everyday with a pair of novelty socks. Take a picture of your socks and share it as an Instagram story. Show the world that though you are stuck at home, you are showing up for life every day.
Enforced shutdowns have put the screws to small businesses worldwide. In the US millions are newly unemployed, while businesses scramble to take advantage of loan programs that can help them keep their payroll and weather the economic downturn.
It has never been more important to support local and small businesses. And appropriately scaled retail therapy can be part of your self-care regimen now that you can’t spend money at bars, restaurants, or theaters. Just don’t let it get out of hand!
Buying socks is an easy, affordable way to get the dopamine high of buying something new for yourself. Go to the eCommerce store that your favorite boutique clothier operates and grab a pair of socks for yourself or as a gift for a loved one. It may not feel like much, but you are helping businesses stay solvent, protect their employees, and weather the crisis.