There’s been a lot of advice about how during these (insert word of preference here) times, we should be kind to ourselves, that we should resist the exhortation to be super productive because this is a stressful time and we may be more stressed than we realise, that dealing with ‘everything’ may mean we are using up all our coping reserves and maybe this isn’t the best time to also stress yourself about learning a language or taking up jogging or keeping everything at home just perfect.
Certainly I am not feeling super productive. I haven’t set myself any ridiculous targets like learning to play the guitar or redecotrating the house. Even the idea that I would do yoga every day has fallen by the wayside. I have settled on three times a week and told myself to be happy with that. It’s two more times than I was doing, and that’s enough.
I try to eat healthily, and we do cook a lot with vegetables. But we also eat a lot of cake and biscuits. My skin is breaking out and I am conscious I am feeling more round in the middle because I am moving less.
At work, we have weekly (online) team meetings and my colleagues share what they’ve been doing. They always seem to be focussed and productive. They always seem to be busy with lots going on. I guess I should be busy too but my brain is not cooperating.
I panic when it’s my turn to speak. What have I done to be productive this week?
I sit at my desk and draw up a to-do list and tell myself I will get this done today. But lunchtime comes and I have crossed off maybe one thing. Admittedly sometimes it’s a systems issue – IT systems don’t always work super well remotely. But mostly it’s just me, my brain like some kind of jelly. The tasks I was capable of doing in the office environment now seem insurmountable.
And I have the same set up – I have a chair and a desk and a screen and a proper keyboard. I actually have more natural daylight than I did in the office.
But my brain won’t comply.
I move so slowly.
I feel weighted down.
The things about work that seemed so important in regular times now don’t seem important at all.
I find it hard to be motivated about the bones of my work when it feel like the whole world is holding its breath. When I can’t leave my house, see my friends. When I have colleagues who are sick with this virus and struggling to recover and who I can’t do a single thing to help except send messages.
Working at full speed as if it was business as usual seems wrong and out of tune with how the world is now. Operating at a slower speed feels more right, but I need to shake off the guilt that I feel.
Last week’s team call was less positive than previously. It showed cracks even amongst the usually most cheerful of us. Being at home, curtailment of freedoms, future plans derailed, missing social interaction with other people, having full time care of children, spending more time with partners – all of this seems to be taking a toll and chipping away.
Should we acknowledge this as a team or should we just say “OK, next person?” and keep rolling as if nothing happened?
I want to do my job well, but when I go to tap into the resources I need I find there is nothing there.
I am empty.
I am sad.
I am slow.