Pre-lockdown I spent a lot of my time lying in bed feeling like I was missing out on so much and wasting my life away. I would be desperate to do things, yet too tired or anxious to do them. I had so many ideas and plans in my head, and added to that ever growing mental list every time I saw someone on social media doing something that looked fun/important/productive.
But the overwhelm stifled me and left me not wanting to do any of it.
During the first week or so of lockdown I felt good. I was still going to work as I’m a key worker, and on my days off I was getting things done. I was doing home workouts, learning Spanish on Duolingo, reading books and doing blog maintenance. It felt nice. It seemed like a lot of people were still finding their feet at that time so weren’t posting about all of the productive things they were doing, and I knew I wasn’t missing out on any events because there were none going on. I felt content, and like I was able to do whatever I wanted without a nagging feeling of ‘you need to be doing more’ or ‘reading that novel is not productive’.
Then the social media and blog posts started. People were telling others they needed to be using their free time (which many people do not have in abundance because they still have jobs to do from home) to learn new skills, create things, take online classes, learn a language, get fit, find new hobbies. And then, the worst of all, this awful quote circulated for a few days: if you’re not coming out of quarantine with a new skill or side hustle then it wasn’t time you were lacking, it’s because you’re lazy (or words to that affect, but this was the gist). How awful. I feel like we, as a society, have built up this idea that you need to be busy all of the time, and like it’s not okay to be sitting watching Netflix all day because you won’t gain anything from it. I also feel like a lot of people don’t take into account other people’s points of view. Many people have overwhelming anxiety at the best of times, which is undoubtedly increased now. Some people are too depressed to get out of bed sometimes (I know I am). Some people just don’t want to learn a new skill. Why is that so bad?
The flip side of this is the people saying you must relax at all times and use every minute of your spare time to practice self-care. I find myself switching between feeling like I’m not being productive enough to feeling like I need to relax for the next six hours in a heartbeat. I know these people mean well but they are just adding to this overwhelming feeling of what the f*ck am I supposed to be doing.
People are trying to cope with this situation the best they can. And I’m sure they are just trying to give tips to others or give themselves a sense of control. But it’s too much to be pushing your daily routines onto others. It’s too overwhelming to be bombarded with news about death rates increasing and everyone telling you how you need to filling every waking hour.
I’m still going to work 5/6 days a week and my job was stressful enough pre-pandemic, yet I’m still trying to learn Spanish and get fit in my spare time because I feel like I should be doing something. But I’m only doing this when I feel okay enough to do so. Yesterday I watched the whole first season of Broadchurch, today I got up and went for a morning run. It’s all about balance and finding what works for you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed too, just know you’re likely in the majority and it’s totally okay!