You’ve probably encountered messages urging people to “make the most” of the COVID-19 pandemic by spending their newfound “free” time doing something productive. Although these intend to motivate, the pressure to be productive during a global crisis is, in reality, stress-inducing for many.
The uncertainty of this crisis is throwing many of us off kilter and destroying our focus. Between attempting to adjust to the new normal and navigating huge emotional hurdles, some of us just can't find the drive to remain productive. This is completely understandable. What’s important is that we take care of ourselves so we can emerge from this storm stronger.
Here are some things you can do to manage your productivity-related fears and anxieties in light of this unique crisis.
Don’t believe everything you see on social media
People tend to present their best image on social media, so what we see doesn’t always reflect reality. It’s helpful to remember that as you’re inundated with quarantine goals and to-do lists, most people curate themselves and withhold flaws and errors.
So if you’re feeling guilty because of these productivity shaming posts, don’t. As long as you’re working toward your own goal, no matter how small your accomplishments may be, then you are making progress.
Better yet, look at it less
There are so many things outside of our control right now — like how other people react to current events and what will happen moving forward — but we do have control over how much media we consume.
Constantly reading, watching, and listening about the pandemic and your Facebook friends becoming expert home chefs can be overwhelming. It’s important to stay informed, so we know what to do to help slow the spread of the virus, but consider limiting how often you check the news or social media.
You can set a specific time frame to check for updates — you can even use news aggregator apps that compile relevant happenings, so you only need to get information from one place. Or if you’d rather avoid media entirely, ask someone reliable to update you on important things.
Remember: There is no “right” way to cope
People process and deal with difficult experiences in their own ways. For instance, some may want to keep themselves busy to take their minds off the negative things. Meanwhile, others may be too worried or helpless to even be able to concentrate on a task, so they spend most of their day thinking about when everything will return to normal.
Figuring out the best way to cope with different emotions is a personal process that will take time. As such, it’s important to realize that this entire ordeal is new for everyone, and things may be confusing and stress-inducing for a while.
Don’t compare yourself to others
You may have a mentor you’re trying to emulate or a friend you’re constantly trying to one-up. Either way, now isn’t the time to compare yourselves to others. Social comparison can be stressful.
People’s behavior can express how they manage their fears and anxieties, so each response will be unique. Individual circumstances differ, and we must respect the different ways of coping — especially our own.
Create a routine
Although you may feel productive today, don’t be surprised if you feel differently tomorrow. It’s vital to approach this new norm one day at a time.
For many people, easing into a routine helps. It doesn’t have to be anchored on productivity. You can set aside time to take a walk, talk to family and friends, play a game, or work out at home. Think about the things that would help you get your groove back.
Just like your old habits, your new routine will take time to develop as well.
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