So the world comes to a standstill. Fishes reappear in the lakes, dolphins in the sea, birds in the sky. It turns out, after all, the Dodo wasn’t actually extinct and we all feel like we have been sent to our rooms to think long and hard about what we have done. With an abundance of time and most future plans postponed, a lot of us don’t know what to do with ourselves, what to do with all of this time.
Because if there is one thing we never have it is time.
In fact, most people have built their life around the concept that having time is unproductive, unuseful and wrong. The luxury of having time is not something any of us can, or could even possibly possess because we have to be oh so… busy.
Every answer to the meaningful catch ups over coffee…
‘How are you?’
‘Yes, great, really busy’
We fetishise the rat race, the fast-paced, hectic business of life. We love it. We thrive off it. But do we really?
Our beloved routine is RUINED and we don’t even have anyone to be angry with about it, because we are all in the same boat and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.
Oh The Pressure
Whether or not you are working from home or newly unemployed, our lack of current freedom means we all have at least some amount of time and with it arrives the pressure. What are you going to do with this spare time? What book are you going to write? What course are you going to complete? What marathon are you going to run? Well actually we plan to do all of them and we add another five things to that list to be completed by the 13th of April because that’s when Borris re-assesses this lockdown and WHO KNOWS WHAT COULD HAPPEN… Because we all have to remain positive.
But there it is again. The pressure. The pressure we put upon ourselves is outstanding. Where did this constant demand on ourselves come from, to succeed to be better? Better not even being good enough because we need to be the best.
Maybe I am so aware of this because lots of people I live and are friends with are some of the most driven and ambitious people I know. This message is for you and it’s for all the other perfectionist’s and Type A personalities out there.
Weekly my phone smirks and delights in telling me…
‘Your screen time is up 20% from last week’
No shit sherlock, what did you expect.
Interestingly enough social media is often to blame for feeling an increased amount of pressure on how to be / what to look like / the things that we have. Sparking that innate egotistical comparison we make from our lives to someone else’s on a screen. And what are we all doing a hell of a lot more of now? Scrolling.
Closed Until Further Notice
And then there is the dreaded fear of getting out of shape. Personally I became obsessed with how I was going to stay ‘in shape’ about day 2 into lockdown. I was (oh my god past tense) someone who would go to the gym most days, strength training was just part of my routine. Quite quickly I told myself that to ‘maintain’ what I had previously achieved in training I would need to do cardio and strength training every day, yoga in the evenings to wind down, teach 4 classes a week to hopefully motivate everyone else to stay active, start a daily TRX challenge, get in at least 10,000 steps. Oh, and start a running program, even though I HATE running.
Where is the sense in this behavioural pattern? Why do I do this to myself? I could see that I had become obsessed. Obsessed with being busy. And for a moment again, I loved it! Busyness gave me something to do and having something to do gave me purpose.
Have We Missed The Point?
With my diary quite literally bursting at the seams, to-do lists for my to-do lists I felt like I was quite literally missing the point! We have been told to slow down and take some time out and all I could do was focus on how I could speed back up. Followed by the annoyance of myself for not being able to do everything I had planned for myself in one day.
There was not a lot wrong with the things I had planned for myself to do, they were all positively motivating and commendable. It was just the concept of getting them all done daily. The fear of not ‘making something of myself’ during this time. The pressure of being productive and not procrastinating. The expectation of excelling in everything rather than taking a moment to just… exist.
The whole concept of this lockdown is encouraging us to slow down and reflect, possibly take some time to connect to the things that are important.
The bottom line is there isn’t anything you SHOULD be doing in this lockdown. And god do I hate that word.
This is not a productivity contest. This is a global pandemic that has left a lot of people stressed and scared. You do not need to be putting added pressure or demands on yourself.
Be Your Best Friend
Imagine you are giving your best friend advice on what to do during this lockdown. What would you say? I would say probably something along the lines of…
‘Get outside for your one walk a day, get some fresh air. Do a workout if you feel like it or maybe some gentle yoga if you don’t have the energy. Don’t force yourself to exercise if you don’t feel like it because you won’t enjoy yourself – but you can still move. If you are feeling stressed why not turn your phone off and meditate. Did you really think you’d finish that book in 3 days?’
There is a happy medium, that has all the flexibility and understanding of your best friend. A calm and preferred balance of all of these things. Being active is a no brainer, the happy hormones exercise gives you will undoubtedly brighten your day. However, this doesn’t mean you have to do all types of exercise daily! You don’t have to be frustrated with yourself if you do spend some days being more gentle and kind to your body. You can move, be active and try different types of exercise but don’t overexert yourself or demand this expectation. As believe it or not, burnout is possible during a lockdown too.
Yes, developing brainpower and knowledge is commendable and constructive use of time spent but can you really blame yourself for not being able to have the energy to do this considering what is going on in the world right now?
All in all the main goal I want to have for myself now is to be mindful of what I need on a day to day basis. If my body is lacking energy its yin yoga and not a HIIT workout. If I feel negative and miserable it’s a walk or run outside maybe power yoga. If I feel anxious and stressed it’s meditation rather than scrolling through social media. Maybe even treat yourself to a technology detox for 1 hour of the day. Try it! I dare you.
A Gift From You To You
Connecting with ourselves and what our bodies and minds are asking of us really is the biggest gift we can give to ourselves during this time. We don’t give ourselves the chance to ask these questions in our busy lives. Now we do, we at least have the chance to.
So when you wake up, tune in and ask of yourself what you would benefit from today? Don’t set yourself unrealistic expectations, demands and goals. Don’t be annoyed with yourself when you didn’t spend 4 hours working out before lunch. Don’t be surprised when you didn’t get 10,000 steps in, it really isn’t that surprising.
Yes, you may use this lockdown to launch an online career. Yes, you may use this time to learn that new language. But if you just about manage to keep your cool and remain calm despite what is going on, this is okay too.
While our choices should support and uphold our lives we need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves. During this lockdown and beyond. This pandemic is a stressful and chaotic time, justify any emotions you experience and don’t be so hard on yourself to beat the next world record. You are not superman/woman. (He doesn’t exist – trust me I have looked).
You can be productive without being a perfectionist.
You can better yourself without setting unrealistic expectations.
You can take a moment to justify that we are in a stressful situation and putting on a few pounds is not the end of the world.
It’s just a case of finding the balance, and the right balance for you.
All things love light and laughter
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