Why you’re not “wasting time” in lockdown
With so much pressure to spend lockdown productively, it can be hard to relax fully. But Eve, 20, explains why you're not "wasting time" in this pandemic, and why it's okay to take time out.
The concept of time and the fear of wasting it has never felt as relevant as it does now. We are once again in a national lockdown, which means that a lot of the things that brought many of us joy, helped our mental health and gave us purpose are yet again not possible.
Despite this, a lot of us feel pressure to be productive, busy and live life to the fullest. Whether we recognise this or not, that is a huge amount of pressure.
I find myself regularly wondering what I have done for the last hour, which does not fit the idea that we should be cherishing every second of every day. We are led to believe that every moment has the potential to be life-altering or transformative in some way, and that can lead to a lot of guilt if much of your time is spent simply living and doing the mundane things that come with everyday life.
Changing our mindset
We live in a world where overworking is glorified, and burnouts are viewed as simply a chapter of your career/educational journey. With a global pandemic present, changing this mindset to adapt to the restrictions can be incredibly difficult.
Most people I know have told me that they feel a sense of underachievement and discontentment with how their lives currently look and I know that this is far from uncommon. It saddens me that we place so much of our worth on being productive and busy, but considering the information that gets fed to us daily, it’s unsurprising.
It is so important to bear in mind that now is not the time to place huge expectations on yourself, whether they be about climbing your career ladder or achieving the highest exam results. It is a really difficult time and there is enough pressure without feeling an all-encompassing need to be constantly striving for success in this area. You will still see people having huge career/educational wins on your media feed, but this is only representative of a very small part of society and is not a reason to exacerbate the pressure you put on yourself. Simply getting through the day is good enough, especially at the moment.
Like many others, I had the expectation that my time at university would be some of the best years of my life (I know it is very cliched, but I think it is a pretty common mindset). In many ways I feel very lucky, as I had a whole term of freedom pre-COVID-19. I could go out in the evenings, meet new people, and I was able to form a lovely supportive and established group of friends, some of whom I live with now. This being said, I catch myself on a nearly daily basis feeling a little bit bitter that my university experience has been so hugely altered. There is a feeling that these are supposedly some of the best years of my life and that I, along with the rest of the country, am essentially waiting until our normal lives can resume.
That lack of control and the feeling that time is simply passing us by - especially during such formative years - is really frustrating and there is nothing wrong with feeling that way. It’s okay to feel frustrated and bitter – that’s a valid way to feel.
I felt really guilty for a long part of the first lockdown for feeling upset about missing moments or memories because of the restrictions; cancelling a holiday or missing a friend’s birthday felt like small things that pale in comparison to the extreme impact that this pandemic has had on so many people’s lives. However, they were still losses for me, and I was allowed to mourn them a little.
Toxic positivity – the idea that no matter how bad things are, we must all adopt a positive mindset - is a real issue in today’s conversations about mental health. At the moment, it often takes the form of someone saying that your problems aren’t valid because “ x amount of people have it worse”.
These sorts of statements are not useful for anybody. Feeling the need to constantly force positivity and suppress difficult emotions can be a huge burden on your mental health. On social media right now, there are a lot of posts revolving around keeping positive; while I completely agree with elements of this idea and highly doubt that the people posting these things intended to shame others or make them feel guilty, this is not a sustainable approach. Missing out on plans or key moments that you were looking forward to can be difficult to process and may feel upsetting - that is allowed!
The important thing to remember is that this is a difficult time and you don’t need to accomplish anything big to feel proud, so be kind to yourself.
Author: Eve, 20
Where to get help
If you are struggling with your mental health, you're not alone. For tips, advice and information on where you can get support with whatever you're going through, have a look at our find help page.