Reading through good news threads today revealed multiple stories about the types of things people are baking during this pandemic, the number of books that have been read, and even lists of the number of exercise workouts people have completed. There have also been posts circulating on social media which suggest that if we do not use this time to learn new things then we must not be using it well.
Holding expectations for goal achievement during this time when so many of us are sheltering in place seems somewhat odd to me. Given the collective trauma that this pandemic engenders, the desire to attain any high bar of achievement should be one of private, personal choice. Comparing yourself to the achievements of others right now seems like one of the last things we should be focused on. Actually, I’m not sure it’s a good idea at the best of times.
Combine the pressure to learn something new along with having to work from home in addition to having your typical daily routine upended, may result in an undue amount of stress. It seems more important than ever to pay careful attention now to all of our mental and physical health needs of ourselves and those we care for.
Our new normal is anxiety provoking in and of itself and the desire to continue to focus on our accomplishments in comparison to others seems a bit superficial. Having personal goals may be healthy and for many of us, it’s really how we get things in our lives done. It helps motivate us in the best of times but caution may be needed during a pandemic. Paying careful attention to the ebb and flow of our daily emotions should be top of mind.
Planning for the future during this time is less important than managing and monitoring our mental well-being. We have no idea of what our future holds or what our new normal may be. Expectations of ourselves should be balanced with all of the limitations that we currently have and the recognition of what is beyond our control.
I have found myself several times, feeling adrift, and unable to focus. When this occurs, I can be hard on myself and need to challenge any negative self talk that seems to automatically happen. I am also cognizant that my daily writing practice was built around a routine that included many activities that I am no longer able to participate in. Rebuilding that routine has been challenging.
In order to avoid placing un realistic expectations upon ourselves, it may be helpful to set goals that would encourage us to pay attention to the times that we practice self-compassion. Rather than only posting photos of the most recent loaf of bread baked, or any other notable accomplishments, it might be helpful for others to learn what strategies we have found to be most helpful in maintaining a healthy balance in our lives.
Reading posts about how people are occupying their time can be illustrative and reassuring. The trick is not to compare yourself to what others are doing and what you may not be able to do at this time. Hopefully if we can learn new lessons for a more balanced well being, along with the ability to cope with crisis, we might consolidate this new knowledge as we move forward when the pandemic crisis resolves.
What types of expectations have you set for yourself during this time of crisis? If you haven’t been able to meet them, are you okay with that? We have enough challenges to keep us going for some time, it’s not necessary to add to them by wanting to do what everyone else is. Stay healthy and well!