If you’ve been scrolling through your social media feeds lately, you may have found yourself scratching your head wondering when the heck everyone suddenly became bread-baking experts, meditation gurus, and fitness pros

Well, you’re definitely not alone in your confusion.

As COVID-19 lockdowns have swept across the world, a very noticeable surge of “productivity pressure” has started to sprout up alongside it. Everywhere you look, it seems as though people are encouraging you to follow their lead and use this lockdown to get stuff done, develop your hobbies, and altogether just become the “best you” possible.

Just take, for instance, the viral tweets about how Shakespeare wrote King Lear when he was in quarantine during the Plague in the 17th century. Or how Isaac Newton used his time to come up with the theory of gravity. Right, because that’s the kind of pep talk we need right now … (???)

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Productivity shaming during COVID-19

This “productivity shaming” that’s currently being spewed at us from the media is hugely problematic. Let’s get this straight – we’re currently in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic that’s causing HUGE upheaval in the world.

This isn’t just something that’s going to pass in a few months – this is going to change the way our very society functions. I’m not trying to scare you, I just want to give you some perspective (because so often this can get lost in the media).

Honestly, this is really big.

Yet for some reason, we’re still being told by our apps, by social media influencers, and by – perhaps worst of all – ourselves, that we need to use this time to focus on us. To self-improve. To be our “best” every single day

We’re currently going through a collective trauma experience – how on earth are we supposed to be operating at our “best” every day?! It’s challenging enough when life is normal!

You need to go easier on yourself

The world is not at its best right now, so of course you’re not going to be at your best right now, either. This immense pressure put on us to “get things done” is just ridiculous, and only adds more pressure onto our already anxious minds!

Despite what your social media feeds may be showing you (read: lying to you) about all the *brilliant* things that people are learning, achieving, and getting done, it’s really not reflective of reality. 

The reality is, anxiety and depression levels are up, and LOADS of us are finding it difficult to stay healthy, let alone productive, inspired, and creative. I promise you – you’re not the only one feeling this way.

In fact, this is a completely normal response to the pandemic. Don’t be fooled by the productivity shamers that are inundating your social feeds. Afterall, we know we can’t believe everything that people show us there.

Different responses to stress

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ reaction to stress, change, and uncertainty – we all respond completely differently. So it’s only natural that we all react differently to the global trauma we’re currently experiencing.

Some people may deal with stress and uncertainty by being uber productive (think, for example, of that one classmate you had who would always leave their assignments until the very last minute, pull an all-nighter, and then somehow manage to still get a stellar mark on it). That’s totally fine! But you need to realize that not everyone is like this. In fact, a lot of us aren’t like this.

For a lot of us, it’s a struggle to even find the energy to get out of bed during lockdown. For a lot of us, the only thing we can manage to do is sit in front of the TV and binge-watch shows all day long.

This. Is. Okay. 

There’s no right or wrong way to deal with an unprecedented global pandemic. None of us know what’s going to happen, and none of us know what we’re doing. So if you don’t become fluent in French, if you don’t become ripped, and if you don’t end up writing a novel, it’s all good.

Tip: if you’re feeling particularily stressed about the Coronavirus situation, I recommend downloading our free Anxiety Handbook!

A note on self improvement

The self-improvement movement that’s become mainstream over the past few years has had some seriously great benefits. Here at Mindaya, we are ALL about personal growth and we believe that everyone has the power to become the best version of themselves and live the life they dream of living!

But as with all things in life, too much of something can be a bad thing. 

In recent years, the media has taken this idea of ‘self-improvement’ and morphed it into being something more about productivity than about actual pleasure and fulfillmentProductivity is only ONE aspect of self-improvement. Being productive isn’t an end in itself, it’s a means to an end. You shouldn’t strive to “do more” just for the sake of “being productive” and “accomplishing more”. This is so absurd! The whole point of being productive is so that you can spend more time doing the things you love and the things that set your soul on fire.

The “hustle” mentality that’s grown out of the COVID-19 lockdowns is pushing for productivity at the expense of our humanity. Our beautiful world is going through uncharted territory – now’s not necessarily the time to be focusing solely on improving yourself.

Okay, now that you know the truth about the ridiculous claims that “you need to be productive during isolation”, it’s time to take a great big sigh of RELIEF! Rest assured that you are doing perfectly fine no matter what you’re doing (and no matter what you’re NOT doing). It’s okay. It’s all okay. 

Finally, I wanted to summarize a couple tips that will help you deal with the COVID-19 productivity pressure. Write them down on your phone, or stick them on a piece of paper above your workspace so you see them every day!

10 tips for how to cope 

  1. Remind yourself every day that the world as we know it is going through a major change. Remind yourself that this is a big thing. 
  2. Recognize that having anxiety is normal right now (as well as feeling more depressed, lethargic, unmotivated, and uninspired)
  3. Take what people say on social media with a grain of salt (remember: people always portray the best version of themselves on social media, it’s not a genuine reflection of reality) – better yet, take a break from social media altogether
  4. Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to cope with a pandemic
  5. Stop measuring your worth against other people’s achievements. 
  6. Remind yourself that this is temporary and that things will get better
  7. Stop focusing on your future for a while (ex –“I want to have achieved ‘XYZ’ by the time the pandemic is over”) – focus instead on what you’re doing in the present moment 
  8. If you do want to set goals for yourself during isolation, make sure they’re realistic and start with baby steps (ex – doodle on a scrap piece of paper for five minutes, watch less than 4 hours of TV, stretch for 3 minutes on the bed every morning) 
  9. If you ever start feeling the guilt about not being productive creep back into your mind, just let it be – don’t give your guilt unnecessary attention (that is, don’t start feeling guilty for feeling guilty!
  10. Remember that we’re all in this together! 
Natalie Burns-Holland

Natalie Burns-Holland

Content Creator at Mindaya

Natalie is a freelance writer living in Edinburgh, Scotland.