It’s Okay To Stop
One byproduct of the coronavirus is the compulsion to achieve great feats of home improvement. Every day on social media there is a plethora of posts with before and after pictures of a newly organized closet, cleaned kitchen, remodeled bathroom, or redecorated living room. There are endless posts with titles claiming “X Projects You Should Tackle During Social Distancing”. Start a garden. Start a farm. Build this or that.
I find it all very exhausting.
It’s okay not to be ambitious. It’s okay not to have 27 DIY projects to improve your home crossed off the To-Do List. It’s okay to stop.
In fact, I would say that it is even necessary to stop. Just for a little while. We are living in unusual circumstances, the like of which no one in this generation has ever seen before. Giving yourself time to stop and process the ordeal is a necessary part of the recovery process. Taking time to digest current events and allow yourself to come to an emotional and mental rest is important for overall wellness and perseverance. Here are four tips on what stopping might look like:
1. Stop Getting On Social Media.
Many well-meaning people are spreading fear and panic based on false information, opinion, or ranting. And of course, this is widely spread on social media. I have read some very well written articles that were based on misinformation. I knew it was misinformation because I happened to watch the press conference the author was writing about. This writer took one or two sentences, ignored the context of the statement, and put it out there in the article. As a result, it made things look much worse than they were. Journalists are not the only ones responsible for fear-mongering. Any individual can be guilty of unduly causing fear. The best way to avoid it is to get off social media. At least for a time so you can be mentally and emotionally stabilized.
2. Stop Feeling Like You Have To Be Strong
I read an interesting article by someone who has worked from home for over 40 years. This person admitted that they were feeling the sting of social distancing. Why? Because even if you normally work from home, you are used to being able to go out. Working from home in normal times is not the same as social distancing. It’s okay, no matter what your circumstances are, to feel lonely and isolated. Even if you normally work from home. Even if you live with your family. The reason is simple: You can’t meet your friends for coffee. You can’t go to the movies. You can’t go to the mall. You can’t do the fun things you were used to a couple of months ago. The extreme circumstances leading to social distancing affect everyone. You don’t always have to be strong. You are allowed to feel vulnerable and sad. You are grieving for a way of life you were forced to give up.
3. Stop The Habit Of Negativity
This may seem to be in contradiction to the last tip. I assure you, it is not. Give yourself time to grieve, time to process the situation. That process is going to look different for each person. Maybe you started out feeling strong and positive and it is just now hitting you. Maybe you already worked through some depression and fear and are emotionally stabilized. Wherever you are in the journey, it’s okay. But dwelling on the negatives can drag you down. The idea is to work through negative emotions and find a way to level out. You may not feel overjoyed, but you can come to a place of peace and mental rest.
4. Stop Neglecting Your Own Needs
I work from home during the day. I am in grad school. I have a family. I’m trying to finish editing a book. Honestly, I think working from home has made my life busier than when I had to commute to work each day. One reason is that there are no boundaries. In other words, my work is at home. Normally I can leave my work at my workplace. But right now that isn’t possible. I’ve had to come up with other ways to compartmentalize so that I’m not working from morning until 8 PM or later each night. Part of my self-care is making sure I have time to write, edit, exercise, and spend time with my family. Self-care may look entirely different for you. The goal is to engage every day in something that lifts your spirits. Cooking, crafting, taking a bubble bath, whatever makes you breathe easier and clears your mind.
There is nothing wrong with getting projects completed. I applaud those who are able to function on that level. But it shouldn’t be at the cost of neglecting yourself or the opportunity to process the current traumatic situation. Admittedly, there are a few small projects I have finished, but my expectations stop there. These days I’ve learned to listen to what my body tells me I need. Sometimes it is a brisk walk on our hilly country roads. Sometimes it is a nap. No one should feel inferior if they are unable to post the latest organization or remodeling project on social media. Sometimes just getting through the day is a mental marathon. It’s okay to relax. It’s okay to breathe.
It’s okay to stop.