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It’s OKAY to not be productive in the face of Covid-19

3 years ago

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By Sakuni Weerasinghe You’re scrolling through your Instagram on a Tuesday afternoon (Tuesday or Wednesday — we can’t tell which day it is anymore, can we?) You see how people are spending their time during curfew while in self-isolation. One person seems to have come up with a business plan to build on his love for graphic design and another is talking about how she enrolled in five courses on Coursera. One person seems to be at the top of his game getting commendations from his mentor about his “work ethic” and another seems just about ready to go on MasterChef. There seems to be a notion of “if you don’t come out of this quarantine with a new skill and a side hustle and more knowledge, you never lacked time; you lacked discipline” spreading faster perhaps than the virus itself. You look at yourself, lying in bed, wondering if you too ought to do X, Y, and Z to make yourself useful. You might experience guilt and shame for not doing as much or struggling to get out of bed some days. Self-criticism may be worn like a tight robe when you start believing that you HAVE to be productive in these trying times. A global pandemic such as the one we are experiencing right now is something we did not see coming and as such, were completely unprepared for it. Feeling stressed out and anxious over the current circumstances is a completely normal reaction to such an unprecedented situation. So it’s okay to feel worried, sad, anxious, and frustrated. It’s also okay to feel bored and tired and not want to engage in anything productive right now.  Perhaps this misconception about having to be productive stems from the consideration that the time we have to spend at home under curfew and/or in self-isolation is “free time” that ought to be capitalised on. However, it is important to remind ourselves and others, when necessary, that this is a precautionary step. This time has been allocated to prioritise your health and the health of others, and that includes your mental health. Healing and adapting to the newer environment we have all found ourselves in takes time, which is precisely what has been granted. By all means, you ought to take that time to take care of yourself and each other and adjust at a pace that is comfortable for you. What’s worth remembering is that not being productive doesn't make you any less of a person; it doesn't take away from how valued and loved you are. How else can you spend your time during curfew and/or self-quarantine? Connect with loved ones Connect with your family members over a steaming cup of black ginger tea. Explore how everyone is feeling and what they are experiencing right now. Catch up with friends over a Zoom call. Humour is a great way to make light the current situation, so fear not about cracking a joke or two! Colour  Colouring is a great way to destress and it can be very soothing. Draw or print a mandala, and start colouring. Fun fact: You don’t have to complete colouring it on one given day itself. Take your time to develop the full picture. Binge on your favourite series on Netflix Grab some snacks and use this time to binge watch your favourite series on Netflix, uninterrupted.  Sleep Try to get as much rest as possible. Sleep itself can be a struggle if you’re feeling particularly anxious; in this case, you can try guided relaxation before going to bed or play some relaxing music (natural sounds work wonders) to fall asleep to. Engage in the activities you love  Whether it is gardening or cooking, engage in the activities you love and those which help you feel peaceful from within. You don’t have to set goals related to these activities. Simply enjoy engaging in them. For example, you don’t have to chase a goal of reading 10 books while under curfew. Make it a point to take time to enjoy one, even if it’s one you’ve read multiple times before. Also, remember that you don’t have to post about everything you’re doing during this period of time on social media. Sometimes, this can create unnecessary pressure. Take a virtual tour Did you know that you can take a virtual tour of the Smithsonian online? You can browse through museum artefacts or take virtual tours of cities. Even if you don’t partake in any related learning, roaming around the great outdoors, even virtually, at a time when we are restricted to our homes is freeing. Try some Buzzfeed quizzes Do you want to know your dream vacation spot based on your favourite food? Take a quiz to find out. Your answers to these questions may even lead you to find out a thing or two about yourself that you didn’t know before. As mentioned before, humour can be a great way to relieve stress, and some of these quizzes and their results will leave you in stitches. Use reminders   Take it upon yourself to remind yourself that you are beautiful, strong, capable, competent, valued, and loved. Put up some Post-it notes on the mirror of your dresser to remind yourself of your values. This is a gentle reminder that your worth is not measured by how productive you are.  If you’re feeling distressed and/or finding it difficult to cope up with your emotional experiences, please contact the following services for further assistance:  Crisis support service: 1333 National Mental Health helpline: 1926 Sri Lanka Sumithrayo: 0112 696 666/0112 692 909/0112 683 555 Shanthi Maargam: 0717 639 898 Sri Lanka National Association of Counsellors: 0710 898 473

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