You’ve probably heard a few people say that this pandemic will either ‘make or break us’. Here’s why I don’t like that statement: Firstly, it doesn’t take into account people’s unique and extremely complex circumstances. Secondly, it doesn’t allow us much room for grace, which is a slippery slope when it comes to our wellbeing.
You see, our response to this pandemic can’t be as simple as make or break, victim or conqueror, because our circumstances are each so unique. And yet we still compare ourselves to others.
Fuelled by social media, it somehow feels like we’re not doing enough. We’re either not productive enough, not doing enough home-schooling, or being creative enough. While on the other end of the spectrum, those struggling with the effects of the pandemic might feel like their hardships are not big enough to complain about, compared with others who might have completely lost their livelihoods, homes and family members.
And so we beat ourselves up. We make our already difficult circumstances harder by being our own unfair critic.
It’s important to remember that we’re entitled to feel however we feel. We are human. The virus is not. And it’s compassion for ourselves and others that will protect our mental health as we slowly come out of this unprecedented pandemic.
It’s ok to be in the ‘make it’ camp, but still have days where you cry, binge-watch Netflix and feel sorry for yourself. Likewise, it’s ok to feel broken by the state of the world as well as acknowledge that other people might have it worse than you. It’s not a competition. We don’t need to be the most productive or the most hard-done by.
The way to help ourselves is by being INTENTIONAL with our actions.
If you want to escape from the world by watching back-to-back box set episodes, do it.
If you need to turn off all devices and go ‘off grid’ for a few days, do it.
If you want a glass of wine in the evening or some ice-cream, have some.
If you want to sort through all of your possessions in preparation for a ‘new you’ post lockdown life, do it.
Do what you need to do, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Recognise your wants and, if you choose to indulge them, set aside an amount of time or have an end goal so you can fully indulge and give yourself what you need. Afterwards, you can pick yourself back up and start where you left off. This stops the cycle of regret for acting on our comforting choices.
Equally, you can be intentional about not doing something you want. (Especially when it comes to sugary snacks and alcohol.) Keep your long-term health front-of-mind to prevent these comfort choices from becoming regular occurrences.
These are strange times we’re living in. And uncertainty affects us all differently.
However you’re feeling, please be kind to yourself and others. Reach out to someone you trust if you need support or accountability, and remember to take each day as it comes. Although we’re all fighting our own battles, we’re in this war together.