The recent lockdown-inspired productivity craze has been quite rampant. It’s even caused me to stress and wonder if I’m doing enough, which inspired me to write this.
I’m giving you permission not to do anything, other than taking care of yourself and your loved ones. You don’t need to start a business or lose weight or go vegan. Being overly productive when you’re already stressed and dealing with an uncertain future is a recipe for disaster.
The obsession with productivity and taking advantage of every minute has caused a whirlwind across our societies. We’re all trying to do and achieve more rather than love and care more.
Before the pandemic, we were already filling up to-do lists, calendars, and notebooks with tasks and events on top of our 9–5 jobs. Why not take a break now? Why not rest and use this time to clear our minds, to dream, to imagine better times ahead?
The pressure to come out of quarantine better than you entered it is pushing us into a self-improvement mania that is already frazzling many of us. Sometimes you need to consider letting go of certain ideas that you had going into quarantine and just be gentle with yourself.
There’s also no need to feel guilty for supposedly not doing enough. Whatever you are doing IS enough. I know, we’re all tired of hearing this, but we are indeed going through “unprecedented times” and taking a step back is completely understandable.
If you want to pick up a new skill, try meditating. Read a book you’ve been curious about. Try some new recipes. Anything but induce even more stress and anxiety within yourself.
If you’re working from home, maintain boundaries for different activities. Don’t work in your bed, but rather at a desk. Exercise on the balcony or in the living room. Eat at a table, away from any distracting devices.
Try to maintain a bit of a routine to keep you motivated as well. I’ve been waking up at the same time each day (around 8:30), having my coffee, meditating, doing a little 10–15-minute workout if I feel like it, then starting my workday.
Consider engaging a bit more in self-care. This doesn’t have to entail an hour-long spa session, just taking a longer shower than usual can make a world of difference in how you feel.
Take this time to connect with family and friends. Find that person you haven’t heard from in a few weeks and check in with them. This is also a wonderful time to help and support others who might need it.
The onslaught of negativity I’ve seen online, such as the idea that 2020 has been ruined or that the year has already been wasted because of this situation is detrimental to all the possibilities and opportunities that we have ahead of us. Rather than dwell on the negative and spend our time complaining about things we have no control over, seek the opportunity within yourself to accept what is happening and to make the best of it.
You can take some time to grieve the plans, travels, or events that fell through but don’t spend too much time in that headspace. Rejoice in your health and the hope for a better future after this pandemic ends.
To push myself to embrace a more positive outlook, I’ve tried to be more consistent with writing in my gratitude journal. Every night, before I go to bed, I take a few minutes to write out three things I am grateful for that day. It could be anything. A recipe you tried that turned out amazing, a heart-warming conversation you had with a friend or that soothing shower that boosted your mood. This exercise has helped me realize that the smallest, most insignificant things that happened in my day can bring me so much joy.
Instead of checking off tasks, let’s embrace these times as an opportunity to give to ourselves and to others who need it. I hope when this all ends that you will feel rested, rejuvenated even, and ready to take on whatever comes your way.