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Close to Home | Putting light on “Pandemic Pressure”

It has been a month since the community quarantine was sanctioned by our government due to COVID-19. In the early days of the quarantine, people were complaining about the sudden halt of plans, schedules, and all that was supposed to be going on in our lives.

As a response, life coaches and personal development motivators began calling for productivity at home: learn a new skill, learn a new recipe, do a 15-minute workout, declutter, and all other strategies and activity suggestions were to be found all over the internet. For what else are we supposed to be doing when the regular program of the day has been interrupted? The seemingly imperative is to do something else that can make you ‘productive’.

Then novelist J.K. Rowling started calling out on the life coaches for putting pressure on people to be productive. Rowling’s critic was that this pressure to be productive while on quarantine is cruel to many. There are people who are going through inner emotional turmoil and being productive shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all for this time of isolation. Instead, it should be a time when people are allowed to just be. Many other critics followed, calling this invitation to productivity as ‘Pandemic Pressure’.

Rowling and others are right in that the pressure to productivity shouldn’t be the name of the game. It is true that this time should be one of empathy and kindness to ourselves and to others.

On the lighter note, the different suggestions to be productive during this time shouldn’t be dismissed through and through. Because as these days suggest this time for lull, not being able to do anything is also one of the main reasons why working people who are now in quarantine fall into anxiety or some deep sadness (or at the extreme case, depression). Others just get into the web of feeling stuck.

At the heart of it, the individual strikes for balance. It is utterly dangerous to try so hard to become productive and suppress our emotions. Forcing ourselves to become productive when we know that our soul longs for a pause. Similarly, it is a prognosis for being stuck in a rut when the individual does not do anything even when inwardly, the soul is longing for some productivity. So, to whom do we listen to?

We listen to ourselves and to the personal call of our home environment. We weigh things and not thoroughly believe the experts who are talking online. These people are truly a great help. But only you have the context of your home, of your emotions, and of your setup. However, a balance between a lull and productivity will be achievable if a rhythm is set. For example, in a day, there could be a time for outputs (or a new skill) and also a time for doing nothing or rest.

If you feel that you need to take a break for the whole day, then go do it. If you feel that you should be working all day, then go do it. But, just make sure that you are aware of your choices. This may work for a day or two. Honestly though, I won’t recommend running headlong through these extremes every single day of the quarantine. Being overly ‘productive’ will lead to burnout; indolence will leave you ‘stuck in the rut’. Extremes always lead one astray.

So call yourself to the day. Know what it is that you want just for the day. Do something that is meaningful and take a pause. You can repeat this. Just as we breathe: inhale and exhale. Work and pause, work and pause. Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. You can do it.

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