You’ve heard it before: “Things are different,” “The world is changing,” and “We’re evolving into a ‘new normal.'”
We’re figuring out how to work from home and attempting to balance our lives. But please remember that we’re still in the thick of a pandemic, not a productivity contest.
Maybe you’ve loved the “time off,” have learnt new languages, picked up new hobbies, and read all the books on your nightstand—or maybe not.
Maybe you’ve been so overwhelmed and flooded with anxiety about work, relationships, and the tough dynamics of family life with its members being stuck together all the time. Maybe you’ve been in a five-month long existential crisis questioning what this is all about in the grander scheme of things, and therefore haven’t accomplished anything tangible (or anything that can be confined to an Instagram caption).
You know what? That’s okay.
And you know what else? Not only is it totally okay, it’s also normal and completely warranted.
In the age of information overload, living in a society with an unquenchable thirst for optimization and improvement, it’s easy to forget to pause, stop, truly drop into the present moment, and allow everything to be exactly as it is—without judgement.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to have space to feel what we’re feeling and learn to be okay with however that may be.
It’s important to remember there’s value in simply being—not just doing. That our worth is not tied to our productivity. That we should unplug from the noise of the news and listen to our own inner voice. Because how could we ever hear the quiet whispers of our own wisdom if we’re always listening to someone else’s words?
It’s impossible to move through this life with any grace if we don’t allow ourselves to breathe, feel, and process it all.
As you most definitely have witnessed, there is a lot to process in this pivotal time of human history. There is no clear path, easy answers, or road map of how to navigate where we are going as a society.
Yet, along with taking action and trying to make the world a better place, we can’t forget about our own self-care. Because the better we take care of ourselves, the better we can take care of our family, those around us, and all the people who are in need of more support.
Moreover, we can’t talk about self-care in a pandemic without mentioning the online world with the way things are going.
Although I think we should always use our time online mindfully and minimally, I also know how easy it is to fall down the black hole of the internet and end up comparing our daily life to what we see others doing online.
“I know, I know,” you may say. We all “know” that the online world is just a sliver of someone’s experience, but even with knowing that, we’re still affected by it.
The information we take in matters, regardless of how aware we are that it’s just social media. Just like how we have a different emotional response when we watch a horror movie versus a comedy, the content we consume will make us feel a certain way, no matter our cognitive reasoning around it.
If your feed is flooded with people posting their accomplishments (both big and small), maybe take a day, week, or month off social media. Give yourself some headspace from knowing what others are up to. Give yourself some space to take a few deep breaths, instead of habitually scrolling. Give yourself those little pockets of time to notice the more subtle sensations that allow you to be drawn into the present moment—to simply be.
If you’re one of the people out there currently feeling amazing, connected, grounded, energized, and inspired, great! Keep up whatever you’re doing.
If you’re feeling lost, disconnected, exhausted, and wildly unproductive, it’s okay.
It’s a pandemic, not a productivity contest.
Take it day by day, move your body, drink enough water, and most importantly, feel what you feel and lean into it, breathe through it, and talk about it honestly with those around you.
When we do our year review of 2020, maybe instead of looking at it through the lens of all the boxes that were (or weren’t) ticked off, or goals that were (or weren’t) accomplished, we should evaluate it by the quality of care we had for ourselves and those around us.
As humans, we’re not designed to be in accomplishment/creation mode 24/7, 365 days a year. Just as the seasons move from times of sunshine and blooming to times of darkness and bare trees, we do, too.
So, sweet human, take a deep breath, turn off the phone, and if you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything, or maybe even feel like you’ve regressed in any way, it’s okay. It’s normal, it’s valid, it’s healthy, and it’s even really good for the soul.
Life is not a linear, upward trajectory. It’s messy, complicated, confusing, beautiful, and challenging all at the same time.
If you ever begin to feel down on yourself, remember these two things:
- There is no wrong way to feel.
- Your worth is not tied to your productivity.
Take care of your sweet self, so you can take care of your community and those around you.
And one more time, for the people in the back: it’s a pandemic, not a productivity contest.