While there are many definitions for the word stress, many of them come with the phrase “any type of change that causes physical or emotional strain”.
So, the keyword here is “any type of change“. There are always individual issues that we face at a certain point in our lives that cause stress, whether they’re considered to be good or bad changes- a new addition to the family, moving to a new place, preparing for an exam, doing a project, asking a person out for a date, making a phone call, etc.
These stresses come and go. However, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, for the first time in a long time, there is a sense of collective trauma around the globe- everybody in the world is going through the same thing, but with a different (yet similar) set of issues. Some have contracted the virus, some have quit/lost their jobs, some are worried about their elderly relatives catching the virus, some are worried about home-schooling, some had to quit therapy, some are struggling with online classes and exams, and for others this pandemic could’ve caused a relapse in their mental health issues.
And yet, with the ongoing crisis we’re currently facing, there’s a kind of (in)direct pressure to better ourselves and be productive during lockdown. An endless array of free courses in education and health and general hobbies. Now more than ever we are pressured by ourselves and society to learn a new language or take up knitting or write your novel. Social media seems to be filled with people living their best lives during lockdown, and that’s just not realistic. But then again, you can’t really rely on social media to be realistic.
Yes, there are a lot of ways to be productive during quarantine, but we seem to be forgetting that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. We have more free time than ever to be productive, but pressuring yourself to do so will only make you more stressed. Right now, your only focus should be to listen to experts- wear a mask and practice social distancing. This is not a now-or-never situation, this is a global pandemic. Your only goal should be to survive.
“There’s a huge push of people thinking that because we are home right now, we can be productive and that we’re all going to be able to stay as focused as we were a month or so ago. But that’s just not the case.”
All of this pressure to deliver a certain productiveness can have a huge impact on your mental health. Those dealing with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are kicking themselves down because they feel pressured to perform (now more than usual), and yet their state of mind hasn’t changed, the same obstacles that were holding them back before COVID are still there, and yet they burden themselves more right now.
“We are going through a collective trauma experience. Anxiety is up, depression is up. From a productivity standpoint, it’s challenging, because we’re navigating these huge emotional hurdles with an uncertainty that most of us have never really experienced in our lifetime”- Racheal Cook
Your main objective should be to survive this and take care of yourself. You aren’t the only one who isn’t taking advantage of the “extra time” you’ve been bombarded with. Many people are binging their favourite TV shows, sleeping in, and just contemplating their existence.
If you feel like you have the mental capacity to learn something new, then by all means do it! But if the only thing you do during lockdown is survive and adjust to the new normal, that’s okay. This isn’t your last or only chance to take up yoga, and you shouldn’t put all this pressure on yourself to turn your life around during lockdown.
So, feel free to go about your day as you usually would: sleep in, watch some crime documentaries, do some chores, take care of yourself the best way you know how. Wake up and do it all over again. That should be enough for now.