Unprecedented times seem to call for unexpected pressures

In unprecedented times, we are battling not only the external threats, but the internal. With a lot of time on our hands, there’s pressure to accomplish so many things when, in reality, our body and mind are processing trauma.

We have not only outside pressure, but pressure from ourselves to cultivate ourselves into more well-rounded human beings. Whether it’s working out consistently to get a better body, meal planning and cooking healthier meals, writing the novel you’ve always dreamed of, starting a business, learning a new skill, learning a different language, or whatever, we place unnecessary pressure on ourselves to do all these things when (even after all this time) our body and minds are adjusting.

We don’t need to place extra pressure on ourselves to get all these things done. Is it great to do? Sure! But we don’t need to knock ourselves down for not getting around to it. A lot of us have enough pressure with the economy changing and our graduation just at our fingertips.

Not only am I getting depressed by not having anything to look forward to because of quarantine, I’m stressed about finding a job out of college, deciding where I’m going to live, building my credit, and determining the direction of my future. Always a big anxiety, my life feels more unsure now than ever.

If I place any more pressure on myself to do other things when I don’t need to or can’t handle it, it will hurt me mentally. Throughout the week I am upset with myself for not working out consistently, or not eating healthy one day or not reading a book I want to read but don’t have the energy to.

I need to be ok with being kind to myself and letting things go -- now more than ever. I’m in a constant cycle of taking it day by day and then drastically psyching myself out by looking at the big picture. While keeping things on my radar is good, it’s best to take things one day at a time and be kind to myself. Life isn’t normal at the moment, and it’s going to be hard.

On the hard days, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a great support system, and I count myself lucky for that because many are isolated alone. I moved home right before lockdown. Some days though, despite being in a house full of loving, well-meaning people, I can still find myself exhausted, lacking motivation, feeling hopeless and having trouble finding anything to be meaningful.

One day I just didn’t feel like myself and didn’t want to get out of bed. I found schoolwork pointless. I found life to be a really big challenge. My family checked in on me, and I still couldn’t make myself get up. It took ordering takeout and cartoons to move me from the bed to the couch. It took human connection and somebody caring enough to show they were there for me through small favors to get me a little bit out of this shell and feeling more like myself.

As far as things go with this pandemic, we shouldn’t feel like we aren’t allowed to feel things. This is a global pandemic, there isn’t a right way to feel, process, or handle it. There isn’t a “right” track to be on. There isn’t a level of productivity to measure up to.

I agree with the statement “we’re all in the same storm, but not the same boat.” Nobody is fighting the exact same circumstances even though we all face the same obstacle. While some might be blessed with keeping their jobs or being promoted, many have lost jobs and or opportunity for jobs, and some don’t even have family to fall back on. This entire pandemic is challenging and I’m not even scraping the surface of why.

On top of our normal life changing, and opportunities changing, there is no reason to expect even more from ourselves during a mentally and physically challenging time.

We need to focus on what will make us feel happy that particular day and simulate some things that bring us regularity if possible.

There are a few things I’ve learned as time goes on and our contact and normalcy changed. Things I’ve found helpful are getting fresh air, especially when it’s sunny out, or planning small things to look forward to (whether it’s a favorite meal, a movie that I’ve wanted to see, a specialty coffee, setting aside time to read or paint, or something like online shopping -- because who doesn’t love some retail therapy?), and always staying connected. Because we thrive on human interaction even if it’s limited to FaceTime or virtual game nights. 

It’s hard to stay positive in these times, but if we find things that bring us joy and take things one day at a time, it becomes easier to manage.

I hope everyone out there is staying safe and finding some peace of mind during this time.