Quarantine and the pressure to always be productive

By Sandra Siutkowska

About three weeks ago the UK, like many other countries, entered a period of self-isolation, with members of the public told to stay at home, unless they were making an essential trip. Almost immediately you could hear everyone saying all at once ‘I’m going to get so much done’. Whether it’s a DIY project, reading more, or learning a new skill, the pressure to use this time do to something productive with your time at home grew almost out of nowhere.

But what if we just enjoyed the slower pace of life for a while? It’s okay to take this time to sleep, enjoy a slow morning, binge on Netflix, or sit in the garden enjoying the sunshine and not feel guilty about it. Lives are busier than they ever have been, and we rarely get a chance to just slow down, even for a little bit, and re-charge. For those on the edge of burnout, those days at home can be transformative for months to come.

Although it can be tricky to avoid the pressure to keep going, there are small actions you can take to create an environment that will foster this new slower pace of life. Just a few suggestions include:

Cut back on social media

Social media is what keeps us connected, especially during self-isolation. However, it can be a reminder that you’re not doing enough, and affect your self-esteem. By foregoing social media, even for a couple of hours every day, you will not be seeing what everyone is up to in almost real-time and it’ll free up the time, and headspace, to focus on yourself.

Making the most of meal times

You don’t have to start practicing to be a part of the next bake-off competition. But isn’t it nice to have a cooked meal, rather than yet another meal-deal eaten at your desk as you rush between meetings? Those little moments can help you connect with yourself, and create a new space in which you can slow down.

Focus on the present moment

Your usual list of things to do and places to be may not as extensive, and you can take this opportunity to just let time flow by. Whether you’ll be watching TV, taking a nap or simply doing nothing, in these moments of stillness, you can rest and catch up with yourself absolutely guilt-free.

These are just small things you can do to avoid the pressure of working and creating, and slowing down for a little bit.

“Life's a marathon, not a sprint.”

Phillip C. McGraw

We are each unique and we all have different coping strategies for dealing with self-isolation. Whether you are busy, resting or still figuring it out – you can use resources, such as these, to improve your self-awareness and help you through this difficult time. But one thing which is true for us all, is that we need to pace ourselves and factor in time to just be.

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