Round about now, Niall Breslin should be putting the finishing touches to his first home, bought back in February. Instead, he has found himself back in his boyhood bedroom in Mullingar.
"Rule number one of a pandemic, don't attempt to buy your first property," he laughs, revealing that he has spent much of the last few months living with his cocooning mum and dad.
"I have this vision of me in my mid-40s still being here," he says. "Initially, my mum thought it was great [having me back], but she totally underestimated how much I eat.
"I asked her one day if she was bored and she replied, 'how can I be? Sure I'm spending all day cooking, you monster.' I can smell her baking loaves downstairs right now."
In addition to doing the weekly Lidl run, he has turned a spare room into a working recording studio using 'Mum's two duvets and two mattresses'. Chief among his projects - and whatever the time of year, Breslin always has multiple projects - is the new season of his podcast series, Where Is My Mind?
Earlier this year, the 38-year-old signed an exclusive deal with Spotify to deliver his wellness podcast series. Enlisting Ryan Tubridy, Roisin Conaty, Marian Keyes and Mark Pollock, Breslin approaches topics as diverse as nature, music, laugher and love, turning them inside out and upside down.
Breslin also became Spotify's 'voice of mindfulness' with a new meditation podcast, Wake Up/Wind Down.
"Someone said, 'you know your accent is good for meditation?' The Americans love it," he notes.
"Like, 'he's got that flat accent, where you don't expect much'. It sits quite well. I'm like the Midlands Moby, but without the ambient music."
Surely for Ireland's most can-do guy, it's only a matter of time before he turns his hands to ambient music?
"Oh my God, I tried and I'm dreadful," Bressie replies. "It sounded like I was getting a sh*t massage."
Breslin's own path to mental wellness has been widely documented by now, but bears repeating.
Before Normal People's Connell was even a glint in Sally Rooney's MacBook, Bressie appeared to have it all.
He was handsome, popular, a gifted athlete who played rugby for Leinster and U-21 GAA for Westmeath, and was handy with a guitar to boot. As a sports scholarship student in UCD, Bressie struggled with anxiety to such an extent that he couldn't get out of bed and experienced severe panic attacks. Sports fell by the wayside. He also formed indie/rock outfit The Blizzards in 2004 with childhood friends.
Since then, there have been stints as a judge on The Voice of Ireland, a spell as songwriter/producer for Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment stable, a handful children's books, the opening of a Dublin recording studio, and solo albums. Oh, and a master's in mindfulness-based interventions from UCD.
Bressie has tirelessly used his ever-growing profile to further the mental-health conversation in Ireland. He runs mental-health charity A Lust For Life, and in 2015 wrote about his own challenges in a book, Me & My Mate Jeffrey.
Yet where several well-known people pay lip service to the mental-health dialogue, there's a definite sense that Breslin is walking the walk. Celebrities charting their experiences with anxiety and depression are not uncommon, but Breslin has an empathy and fervour for the subject that runs beyond the usual.
Podcasting, he notes, is a good way to tease out those important conversations.
"It became increasingly frustrating to have nuanced conversations on social media - social media is a horrible place for nuance, and people will take what they want out of any post," he observes. "I felt increasingly muted by that; suffocated by it. I don't want to come across as someone just spending inspirational memes at people - I wanted to explain the rationale and the science behind a very nuanced and sensitive area."
His own mental health is bearing up reasonably well during lockdown, but, as is the case with many people, there have been tough days.
"I won't lie, it's been tough and suffocating, but if you put people in close quarters for 10 weeks, it's going to be," he says. "I mean, this isn't normal, having to listen to someone else's sh*te all day."
Of his own situation with his folks, he adds: "I mean, I love them dearly, but at the same time I want to kick them in the arse sometimes, and they me."
He's thankful that his parents are healthy and the arse-kicking has been minimal, but he also knows that for many others, it's been a particularly challenging time.
"The world is a f***ing sh*tshow," he adds. "We're being told not to worry, and to tell people that we'll be okay, but this is tough stuff. This is as tough as it gets for many people. I've seen this big jump to sell resilience programmes [since the pandemic], with people saying, 'you need to be tougher'. No, you're strong enough."
He reckons the Government "did a fairly good job" in responding to the coronavirus, but there's definite room for improvement in a wider sense.
"Four or five years ago, governments refused to acknowledge mental health, and now you hear about it every five seconds," Breslin says. "But we need a system and support, not just ads about going out for a walk, or how it's good to talk. Six per cent of the health budget goes to mental health."
More recently, Breslin has also campaigned for more Government funding in the arts, taking part in online discussions about the precarious future of the arts in Ireland.
"I've been thinking for a while about what music does to your brain… it is the world's greatest therapist," he enthuses. "But my feeling is, who takes care of us [musicians]? Who is our therapist? I'm not talking about me personally, but I'm talking about my peers. For every euro spent in the arts, €6 goes back into the economy, and it needs to be supported."
I've spoken to a couple of young people over the last few months and they find it really difficult to keep up what's expected of them. We've created this fictional world online where we're judging life off the highlight reels of each other.
Breslin launches into an impassioned and detailed spiel about arts spending in other countries. Citing statistics and policies, he talks about what the Irish Government can do to better fund the arts. His zeal prompts a pertinent question: would he consider having a go at public office himself?
"No, although I'll probably have this horrible flashback of me in this moment in 15 years' time," he jokes. "I've seen good people go into politics, and it's not them that's the problem, it's the system. The system here is primarily concerned with the preservation of power."
Breslin has amassed a huge social media following - almost 250k followers on Twitter and 125k followers on Instagram - who clearly dig his fuss-free way of telling it like it is.
"I struggle with social media sometimes too, though," he notes. "I've spoken to a couple of young people over the last few months and they find it really difficult to keep up what's expected of them. We've created this fictional world online where we're judging life off the highlight reels of each other."
As to what he thinks of influencer culture, he adds: "I think influencing is quite important, and could be quite a purposeful tool, but in the same way that there is such a thing as corporate social responsibility, there should be influencer social responsibility. If you're making money off the public, it should be in place. If you think of it as an industry, it does make money, and influencers should make money. Making content is hard work."
Breslin knows plenty about hard work, yet even within his portfolio career, there have been challenges. As a solo artist, he moved to London and joined Spice Girls svengali Simon Fuller's pop factory as a songwriter and producer in 2010. It was harder than it looked.
"I struggled with it, to be honest," he says with candour. "You go into a room and someone would create, using algorithms, a 'my dog's dead and my wife left me' song.
"I'd walk into the room and be like, 'right, let's write about a break-up. If it's not personal, why the f*** are we writing about it?' So I became the person who wrote the lyrics - basically put into the corner to shut the f*** up. From my point of view, it was a bit painting by numbers. But that was my own issue, and why I wasn't all that successful with it."
A decade on from his London move, turning 40 in October is only very slightly weighing on his mind.
"All that I've 'never felt younger' stuff? Bullsh*t," he says. "I'm making those old men noises, even when I'm just steering the wheel in the car, or walking the dog."
So what does he expect for the next decade ahead?
"Do you know what I'm waiting for? For when the motor insurance drops. I've been told it would happen when I was over 25, then over 25. I'm not holding my breath.
"I don't mean this in a deep existential way, but I spent 15 years in utter hell, trying to cop on to what was happening in my head. It feels like in the last 10 years, I've only figured it out. I took the scenic route, put it that way. Potholes, sh*tty hills and all. I'm going to hit 40, my body feels good, I don't have any of those legacy injuries from rugby. I don't own a home, I don't have a dog, I haven't married and had four kids."
But is that something he wants?
The wife, the dog, and the kids?
"I mean, how dare I live a non-conformed life," he deadpans. "That's another thing - we've created these horrible rules of engagement that not everyone wants or can adhere to. Not everyone can have that perfect family unit.
"I've no rules on it, and I don't believe in forcing these things," he adds. "I've seen people force it, or their mam or dad has forced them into that position, and they're deeply unhappy.
"I adore children," Breslin continues. "One full episode on Where Is My Mind? is about that childlike return to innocence. For little kids, everything's wonderful, and I miss that sense of self. Who knows, maybe I have a six-foot-six [son] knocking about," he laughs.
"Ah, I enjoy their company. I could be that cool dad, introducing them to cool music. Then I'd have to go through puberty with them, and I'm not sure I'd want to go through that again."
In the last while, there's been this emphasis on 'we should learn a skill or do this' and 'what have you done?' No, maybe you should sit on your hole and not feel guilty about it.
As best as anyone knows, Breslin is currently single. Since breaking up with his ex-girlfriend Rozanna Purcell in 2018, he has kept that side of his life to himself. I'm duty-bound to ask about his relationship status, or whether he is dating, but he effortlessly bats the question away. Talking about the 'love' episode on Where Is My Mind?, he says: "I think love is an immensely misunderstood part of the human condition. At their anniversary party, I stood watching my parents dance 50 years after they got married and they were just two people utterly in love. I feel very privileged to have been surrounded by that growing up.
"Ultimately though, some things in life you shouldn't measure or try to overthink, and that's what love is to me. In recent years I've started to understand that love was something you did rather than feel. That [realisation] took years of looking after my own head."
He's certainly had an eventful time of it in his thirties, so the smart money says that the next decade will be equally as hectic for him.
"I have huge ambition," he admits. "We're confused about ambition, drive and success - we think you can't have that if you're mindful. If you're into mindfulness you must be a lazy p*ick who sits on his arse all day. But the thing about success is that it can't always be about doing. Even in the last while, there's been this emphasis on 'we should learn a skill or do this' and 'what have you done?' No, maybe you should sit on your hole and not feel guilty about it."
Every decision he will make in the future, he says, comes back to his core values of kindness, family, empathy and non-judgement.
"I've been offered lots of money by brands to promote something that doesn't reflect those values, and I respectfully turn it down," Breslin reveals. "I mean, I'd love to be taking the money and buying myself a house, but sometimes you have to let your values make these decisions.
"I want to succeed, not for status or to be clapped on the back, but to take care of my family," he adds. "That's crucial to my wellbeing in every aspect. That's in every decision I make."
'Where is My Mind?' Season Two is available to stream on Spotify from Monday. 'Wake Up/Wind Down' is available to stream on Spotify now
The small group of swimmers stood in the pale light of morning waiting to disrobe. Like a tribal elder, the man they'd been waiting for joined them on the beach. A round of applause and cheers greeted his arrival. It was good to have him back.