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Shelter-in-Place is Not a Productivity Race3 minute read

Quarantine shelter-in-place offers escape for some and anxiety for others—both are damaging

Inhale, pause, exhale. We are living through an unprecedented, intimidating and stressful time, but now is not the time to beat yourself up.

While the world seems at a standstill, many people have taken this time away from their normal daily duties to start new hobbies, lose weight or even learn new languages. These tasks and goals are not a reflection of yourself, nor should they be used to show off your journey through social distancing.

A 2013 study by a psychologist at the University of Michigan examined the effects of social media on people’s mental wellbeing. The study found that social media, Facebook in particular, does not facilitate beneficial social interactions.

The same, and worse, can be said in regard to many other social media platforms. For example, Instagram can be a mindless escape for some but a shame-inducing harbor for others.

There’s a constant creation of new challenges and trends coming up everyday, whether it’s the pushup challenge, #untiltomorrow or even celebrities singing tone deaf tunes. Or perhaps it’s a stream of self improvement posts and revitalized New Years goals.

Whatever is clouding your social media feed, it doesn’t have to be a standard for you to live up to. This isn’t a productivity competition.

Some of us might have more time on our hands, but that doesn’t make things easier—and some people still working or now taking care of children might not have more time. We are also still dealing with pre-existing mindsets on top of the stress of a viral global outbreak.

Don’t waste this time comparing yourself to someone who’s lost 10 pounds walking in circles in their driveway or to someone who’s learned how to speak Italian while in quarantine.

We need to have compassion for ourselves always, but especially now. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 webpage provides a section for stress and coping information. This page offers insight to stress causes and outcomes all while underscoring the importance of knowing everyone deals with stress differently.

Thus, we escape to viral social media trends for entertainment and relief.

In a recent Vox article, writer Rebecca Jennings supports the flood of Instagram challenges. She argues people should continue this outpour of personal content because it offers connections that will stay in this ephemeral time.

However, instead of cluttering a platform with more dog picture reposts or pictures of people wearing pillows as clothing that only distract from the now, we should contribute to the conversation by being honest and doing something that honors yourself and others. Let your friends on social media know how you really feel—open up, cry, laugh and inspire. If you’re up for it, of course.

Don’t waste this time comparing yourself to someone who’s lost 10 pounds walking in circles in their driveway or to someone who’s learned how to speak Italian while in quarantine. Of course, if walking in circles in your driveway while rambling in broken Italian is your thing, go for it.

Being honest with others allows for accountability. If you continue to keep up a guise of happiness when you’re truly suffering inside, you won’t receive the help you deserve.

Speaking up about how you feel is a challenge more people should face. You don’t need to make immediate changes to improve, but you owe it to yourself to take the time you need.

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