Everywhere you look these days, there’s someone telling you how you should be “taking advantage” of your time during lockdown. But just because we have time on our hands doesn’t mean we’re psychologically equipped to accomplish anything. Here are some things that you definitely shouldn’t feel like you have to do.
What is the deal with sourdough bread these days? Even if flour was available on grocery store shelves, baking should not be your number one priority. While it may be therapeutic for some people, it’s just a source of unnecessary stress for a lot of us, and as far as I’m concerned, I’ll take peace of mind over a flat loaf of undercooked bread any day.
Look, we all know exercise is good for us, but so are friends and vacations in Hawaii and we’re not able to do either of those things right now. Things that are good for us in normal times aren’t necessarily good for us in the middle of a global pandemic. If you find exercise to be helpful, by all means do it, but if it just makes you feel miserable and stressed out, skip it. When this is all over you can revamp your routine. For now, give yourself a pass.
Make the time “worth it.”
Let us be clear about this: we are experiencing a crisis of an unprecedented scale. We are not obligated to come out of this experience with a year’s worth of learning, life experience, and bragging rights. We’re all just trying to hold it together right now. Forget about the smug peer pressure to “make yourself a better person” by pursuing impossible standards. Make yourself a better person by listening to your own needs.
There’s this idea out there that if you aren’t dying or putting your life on the line to save lives, you should be happy and productive and feel grateful for what you have. This is insane. We are all navigating this the best we know how, and for most of us, feeling “okay” is the most you can hope for right now. Putting pressure on yourself to actually feel happy in all of this is setting yourself up for failure.
Be productive with work.
For those of us who still have jobs, it’s difficult to not feel obligated to be even more hardworking in lockdown than we were before, if only to prove that we understand how lucky we are to still be employed. But every aspect of our lives is overshadowed by the global crisis that’s happening right now. The world is on hold and I can promise you that you’re not alone in feeling paralyzed and uninspired. Celebrate the little victories and don’t worry about advancing your career.
Take up a new hobby.
Hobbies can be a great way to pass the time and distract yourself from the overwhelming uncertainty of the current world, but they can also become a source of impossible standards and unrealistic goals. If you have hobbies that calm your mind, do them. But if they only seem to be adding more anxiety to your life, put them to one side and wait until after all of this is over before trying them again.
Strengthen your relationships.
If you’ve been living with someone during the time of social distancing, you know that maintaining a steady relationship with that person is about as realistic as spontaneous teleportation. And yet, a lot of people are telling us that we should be using this time to grow closer to loved ones. As someone who is currently living with the love of my life, I’m just trying to make it through the next hour without strangling him most days. Forget about “strengthening” your relationship and just work on surviving it until this is all over.
Engage in virtual parties.
We’re all trying to stay connected right now, and that’s great, but in most cases, “staying connected” means video gatherings where ten people shout over each other about “gallery view” and internet glitches. These meetings are exhausting, and the jury’s still out on whether or not they’re helping or hurting us. I’ve stopped engaging in them altogether and now have a strict rule against conversations involving more than four people. So far, it’s made my lockdown experience much less stressful.
Learn a new skill.
Whether it’s the aforementioned bread-making, sewing your own clothes, or learning a new language, people everywhere seem to be obsessed with “bettering” themselves during lockdown. But frenzied skill acquisition is just another form of escapism, and it’s no more worthy than any other coping mechanism. Binge-watching your favorite sitcom is just as worthwhile as a deep dive into Russian literature.
Start that project you’ve always dreamed of doing.
I don’t want to sound negative here, but now is not the time to pursue your dreams. Unless your dreams involve staying at home and chilling on the sofa for months on end, you should be focusing on taking care of yourself right now, not bullying yourself into a half-hearted attempt at seizing this non-existent opportunity.
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