“Just put on pants.”
Acquire a new skill. Try a new workout. Start a podcast. Learn a new language. Write a book.
Wow, with all the pressure already on the world not to collapse, there’s suddenly a ton of pressure on all of us to improve ourselves or accomplish a whole fuckton of things beyond staying healthy, both physically and mentally.
If you’re like me, you might have seen a ton of articles, social posts, even TV spots about all the great things you can be doing while spending more time at home. If you’re also like me, you might feel like you’re not ‘taking advantage’ of this time by doing something extraordinary.
I’m not doing anything extraordinary. I’m not running a marathon in my backyard or writing a book. I’m not launching a YouTube series or taking up pottery. My days are actually fairly normal, in a sense, so I’m doing things I’d normally do. But even if your days aren’t so routine anymore, you might not be doing any of those things either. And that’s okay.
Having a Routine
What are you doing right now? Ideally you have a routine but I realize that’s not happening for some. Me, I get up around the same time each day, then eat breakfast and take some mindful time for the day. My son gets up so I help get him ready, then get myself ready and go to work – although now I go to work in my kitchen, not my office building.
I start the day by watching and reading the news, as well as social media, then trying to separate the paralysis of negativity in what’s going on from my actual purpose of staying informed and up on what people are sharing (I work in the public relations field). Then I dive into the day’s tasks. I usually take a break to exercise at lunch because I love to exercise and the break is important, then back to it.
My husband and son come home, I unplug and hang with them. We do our usual family time, if it’s nice out I take Abel for a walk or run in the stroller or we play outside, then it’s dinner, bath, and bedtime for the little guy, followed by my dinner, catching up with my husband, and relaxing with one of our shows – and, some nights, plugging back in and taking care of work that needs to get done.
I’m super fortunate to still be working full-time. I’m super fortunate that my day-to-day is still filled with much of my normal, like being a good employee, mother, wife, and carer of myself. I’m super fortunate this is allowing me to keep a sense of routine in an otherwise chaotic time.
It’s Okay To Just Be Okay
Some people aren’t as fortunate. Their normals aren’t there. For some that means more time, without work or social activities, for others that means less time, with homeschooling, more cooking and cleaning, or possibly caring for a sick family member – or self, and dealing with all the news.
Even if you find yourself in any degree of the camp that equals more time or non-routine time, I’m here to support you in the reality that you may not accomplish anything great during this time. And that’s okay.
You don’t need to master a new skill, try the latest new workouts, start up a podcast, learn a new language, or write a book. I feel like there’s so much social pressure right now to be using all of this “extra” time to make incredible life changes or accomplishments.
It’s also by far one of the most batshit crazy times I think many of us have lived through. It’s scary for so many reasons. The mental and physical capacity fear, worry, and anxiety take up is real. If you need to escape with a Netflix binge of Parks & Recreation or watch Tommy Boy three times back-to-back to feel a sliver of calm and happy, that my friend is worthwhile, productive time well spent.
I think back to my maternity leave. I started out feeling bad if I didn’t do the dishes, keep the house clean, get all the laundry done, read a book, do yoga when the baby napped (he didn’t, for the record) and, the big one, get outside – because being a new mother and taking baby out is terrifying but everyone harps on you if you don’t “get out of the house” because you need to, so then you feel bad if you don’t, but you’re so full of anxiety when you do…yikes, okay I had a point, sorry back to it.
My point is, I quickly learned that some days, I would survive, not thrive. And that was okay. I was keeping a tiny human alive, one who relied on me for absolutely everything, and that was enough. I tell every new mom this, when they feel like they’re not doing enough or the only thing they did all day was breastfeed and get the baby down for naps. High-fives, new moms, that is a day where you did your best and you did what you needed to do. I think every parent, mother or father, can relate to this.
Folks, we’re in a similar situation right now. Every day is not going to be a day that you thrive, some days, it might just be the one where you survive. And THAT’S OKAY.
What To Do During Quarantine
Here’s a list of things you do need to do right now. You DO need to take care of your physical and mental health. You need to be honest with yourself about how you’re dealing, and do what’s needed to get through the day, ideally with smiles, laughs, and bursts of positivity. That’s it. This is a time of unprecedented chaos and confusion, rules and new normals. Dealing with that is enough, some days more than others.
Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t try to do something. If you like to read, get into a book. If you like to write, keep on with journaling. If you like (or tolerate) exercise, absolutely do it six days a week. If you like to clean and organize, do it often. Being totally unoccupied is just opening up your brain to more worry, what-if scenarios, and anxiety.
The point is, do what makes you feel good and do not feel bad if you’re not doing “enough” these days. I don’t ever advocate for doing absolutely nothing, but I do advocate for doing things you want to do, not those you feel you have to or should do.
In addition to doing what you normally would and maybe something new you want to do, I would encourage you to try a couple of things that might be new or irregular. Rest. Relax. Re-prioritize what’s important in your day to day. Take time to be mindful or meditate, to acknowledge gratitude every day, and keep thinking in short and long-term perspective.
Just Put On Pants
I’m not sure if you’ve read or watched any “experts” share advice on working from home, but the #1 thing many of them share: put on pants. Real pants. Seriously, that’s it. That’s the benchmark of productivity and having it together during this pandemic. Putting.on.pants.
Let’s all calm down and not feel guilty if we don’t run a marathon on our balcony or learn to sew or write this generation’s version of We Didn’t Start the Fire (though that would be really rad, someone should do that…Mr. Joel?) and keep things in perspective.
I guess, one skill I can say I’m working on is decision-making, as I decide which local restaurant I’m going to order food from that day. I wish I could say it was going well but I’m as horrible as ever at choosing food with so many wonderful options.
For some people, now absolutely be the time to try something new. If you’re one of those people, ensure it’s coming from a place of truly wanting, not feeling like you have to or should.
What’s your gauge of productivity during the COVID-19 chaos? Are you proud of or simply happy with anything you’ve done? Bigger question: Do you feel okay or are you struggling? The comments are your space to share thoughts or ask questions so please do so, and let’s help each other out with positivity and taking off the pressure.