In times of uncertainty, we tend to look to others for guidance or reassurance. Unfortunately, sometimes others are just as lost as we are, and that seems to be a good summary of how 2020 is going so far. As humans, we crave connections and contact— without them, we can often feel stressed and alone. That’s not to say being alone isn’t a good thing because it is. Being alone gives us a chance to get to know ourselves and to do things only we want to do. However, we like to be alone when we choose to do so, and on our terms. In the midst of a global pandemic, although some are lucky to be surrounded, others are alone—forcefully alone, and that’s when it’s hard.
It’s natural to look at the people around us to help us cope. What are they doing? What should I be doing? Although you realize it or not, ways to deal with the current situation are being thrown your way and chances are you are taking them in—consciously or not. The only form of community we can count on right now is the internet, specifically, social media. Naturally, we hold on to that, for good and for bad. A pretty predominant way to cope, according to my Twitter and Instagram feeds, seems to be productivity. In fact, friends, influencers and celebrities alike seem to be very keen on the idea. What better time to be productive than now? What else is there to do anyways? If not now, when? Make a list of everything and anything you’ve been putting off, and do it.
I’m not saying this is a bad idea, per se, it might even be a great coping mechanism for some. However, let me remind you that we are living in unprecedented times and that a global pandemic is going on. This is a hard time for a lot of people. COVID-19 is hitting the world hard; people are losing loved ones all over the world, and although not on the same scale, people are also losing their homes and their jobs. The situation is dire for millions of people and it’s okay to feel stressed. The stress of a global pandemic is hard, whether you’ve been touched directly or not. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not be motivated. It’s okay to feel lost. It’s okay to take time for yourself. It’s okay to not do everything, or anything on your to-do list. It’s okay to not do that at-home workout. It’s okay to watch TV all day. It’s a global pandemic, not a productivity contest.
"To do anything, it is first necessary to be doing nothing." Nancy Hale
A solution to the pressure and constant stress of social media seems easy: stay off of it. However, at a time where we don’t have our regular outlets for social interaction, like going out, seeing friends, going to work or school— social media, as I said, is really the only sense of community we have. The state of isolation can be very strenuous on your health and mentally damaging, so it’s important to hold on to that small window of social interaction. In our regular lives we don’t always choose who is around us. Although you surround yourself with most of the people in your life, sometimes the choice isn’t yours. Right now, you have the power to choose exactly whose photos and information you want to see. The only people you are seeing right now are the ones on your social media and if that is damaging your mental health or adding stress to you during this time, you have the upper hand in choosing what you want to see. You can curate your social life right now in a way you weren’t able to in regular times. If the information on COVID-19 is overwhelming, you can choose the news you want to see (please rely on verified and official sources during this time of news overload). If you feel awful and less than when you are browsing through your feed, unfollow anyone that isn’t helping you get through this time. If your social media accounts constitute a source of pressure to make the most out of this time, unfollow the people who are perpetuating that feeling.
Right now, we have no control. We are forced to simply follow directions and hope for the best soon. A lot of lives of being thrown for a loop and there isn’t much we can do about it. What we can do, is decide what is best for us. Grapple on to the bits and pieces of happiness and sanity you can, by doing what you need to do for yourself. Don’t let that window of social interaction dictate how you should be dealing with a global pandemic. Everyone has different ways of doing things and dealing with hard times. Once again, this is a global pandemic, not a competition for best coping mechanisms.