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Guilt and productivity during Covid-19

Reading time: 4-6 minutes

If you’re someone who often feels guilty for not being productive, then this past year or so may have been particularly difficult. The pandemic brought a LOT of sudden changes into our lives and as a result, your productivity levels might have been affected

Maybe learning or working from home had an impact on how much you were getting done each day. If so, you’re not alone – many of us feel more motivated when we’re around colleagues and classmates! Being at home may have offered it’s own distractions, like the TV, noisy family members, or the fridge (of course).

You might have found yourself with an endless amount of free time but nothing to fill it with, resulting in watching Netflix all day or scrolling through social media. On the topic of social media, lots of us have probably compared ourselves to the people we follow, potentially leading to feelings of low self-worth. Believe it or not, working out every day during lockdown, learning a new language and launching an online business isn’t a sustainable goal for many of us!

"Comparison is the thief of joy."
Theodore Roosevelt

Any feelings of guilt and disappointment that you’re experiencing are completely understandable. Society would have us believe that being unproductive = laziness, and that we should always be doing something with our time or improving ourselves in some way. Add a global pandemic on top of that, and the pressure can feel overwhelming.

We’re here to tell you that it’s ok if you were unproductive during coronavirus, but it’s also ok if you feel guilty about it! You may have been led to believe that your worth is tied to how much you get done, but that’s far from the truth. If your friends or family were to write down the reasons why they like you, ‘productivity’ probably wouldn’t be one of them!

Covid-19 likely messed with your daily routine (or completely flipped it on its head!) and maybe produced a lot of emotions for you. It might have been difficult to get through the day at times; you might have felt very drained and had little motivation to do anything. This is normal – you’ve been living through a global crisis.

With that in mind, it’s entirely reasonable if you haven’t been as productive as you wanted to be! After the year you’ve just had, looking after yourself is sometimes the most productive thing you can do.

It’s also ok if you still feel unmotivated once things start going back to ‘normal’. This too will be a big change -  maybe you just got used to life in lockdown again and the thought of returning to some form of normality is making you anxious. Try not to be hard on yourself if your productivity levels aren’t sky-high in the coming months! 

What might help?

There are a few things that might help if you haven’t been as productive as you wanted to be:

Talk to People - This one is often at the top of our list, and for good reason! Letting people know that you feel bad for being unproductive helps to get your feelings out in the open and relieve some of the pressure. You’ll probably find that the people you talk to are experiencing something similar (or at least have done in the past few months), which can make you feel more understood.

Find purpose in the little things - Everything you do is productive in some way, even if you don’t feel that it is. Try to remember this when you feel guilty for not ‘spending your time wisely’. For example, watching your favourite TV show could have the purpose of making you happy, while playing a video game might help you to get out of your own mind and into the present. Don't let others make you feel something is a waste of time is it benefits you and gives you something you need, like happiness!

Write down your achievements - Make a list of whatever you’ve accomplished during this time, however small. This could be persevering with video calls, trying out a new recipe or simply getting through the last year! You’ll probably find that you’ve achieved more than you think.

Limit social media - If you’re someone who compares themselves to others, it might be a good idea to reduce the amount of time you spend scrolling through social media. Seeing what other people are doing can impact how you view yourself, even when it’s just a highlight reel of people’s lives anyway.

There's always more time - You haven’t 'wasted; a year of your life, you simply spent it doing things a bit differently. You have hundreds of thousands of hours ahead of you to be productive and get stuff done! If you’re worried that you need to ‘catch up’ on certain areas of your life, you might find it useful to read our article on feeling behind after Covid.

Where to go for more support 

If you’re struggling with your mental health due to coronavirus, you might want to find some additional support and resources:

A quick Google search will reveal plenty of articles about Covid-related guilt and productivity. Reading some of these might help you realise that lots of others are experiencing the same feelings and it might not be helpful to put too much pressure on yourself!

  • Mind has lots of resources for anyone who is struggling as a result of the pandemic.
  • YoungMinds has a page on coronavirus and the impact it might be having on your mental health. Their free messenger service is available 24/7 if you’d like to chat to someone about how you’re feeling via text.

Support from 42nd Street - If Covid-19 has affected you in any way, you may want to talk to someone. We provide a number of face-to-face services, all of which offer something slightly different depending on what you want to get out of the support. You can chat with one of our workers online via text - just register for ongoing online support via our online support portal. We also hold weekly drop-in sessions so that you can speak to a worker without an appointment. Every service provides you with someone who will listen, acknowledge your feelings, and work with you to develop ways to manage your emotions. You can read about our services here.

By: Ruby Guyler 

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