No, you don't have to be productive in a pandemic.
A lot of us have gone into self-isolation and, surely, many of us have been feeling pressure to be hyper-productive right now. There are the immediate cues around us: we're working from home and it's hard to shake the feeling that we need to do all of the work, plus the housework around us, plus everything else. Our workplaces want us to keep producing despite all of the distractions and difficulties around us. There are also all the memes about how Sir Isaac Newton contemplated and discovered gravity during a quarantine and Mozart and Beethoven something something OK. WHATEVER. Look.
Cut yourself a break. There's literally a crisis right now, one the world is concerned about. And in your own life, all of your routines and schedules and the way you do things has changed. Breaking out of a routine takes a lot of energy, and doing things in a different way takes a lot of energy. This is part of why you might be so much more tired all the time. Creativity is fantastic, but part of your brain is constantly figuring out all of this uncertainty. Productivity is nice but it shouldn't be the main focus in a pandemic. The fight for survival and basic well-being takes neurological precedence over painting the next masterpiece.
I wrote a post about what actual self-care looks like, but I think it's time to revisit that and give some more concrete guidelines.
This is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, and it does a great job of showing us the way our basic needs layer on top of each other. It doesn't make sense to try and work on learning a new language, for example, when you physically cannot breathe. Also, your brain doesn't know the difference between "there's food in the house but I'm putting off eating until later because I'm going to do all of these other things first" and "there's no food to eat." Self-care means checking where you are on this pyramid and responding appropriately. Giving your body, your brain, a stable and well-resourced experience will help you keep things feeling as okay as they can right now.
We're all going through a lot right now, in our own ways, and it's perfectly fine to do work on just managing right now. A pandemic isn't a race or a competition of who can be the most productive and transform themselves the most. Self-kindness and being present are some of the best things right now. If you'd like some support and help in keeping it together, or even space to fall apart, finding a therapist can be a fantastic research. If you'd like to work with me, let me know!
Stephanie Bloodworth, LMFT-A