• Kayla White, LPC, CCTP

The Myth of Pandemic Productivity

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed a trend in social media posts suggesting we should all come out of this quarantine with new skills, side hustles, Marie Kondo organized homes, and new perspectives on life. I'm calling bullshit. Sure, it would be amazing if we could treat this time as an extended vacation and a chance to become enlightened. I'm not suggesting we not try to find some silver lining (I think it's dope if you do come out of this with any of those things), but the truth is we are experiencing a global trauma. People are afraid. People are anxious. People are lonely. People are dying. To suggest we are lazy, lack self-discipline, or are unmotivated to change in the midst of collective grief is downright ludicrous and unempathetic.

We are experiencing heightened emotional and physical states right now. Our nervous systems are constantly engaged to determine whether we should fight, flee, or freeze. We are experiencing this tragedy as a threat to our survival whether we have contracted the virus or not. When we are in survival mode (whether consciously or subconsciously) tending to our feelings and bodies takes more mental and emotional effort than when we're not. I'm here to say it's okay if your main focus is on managing your emotions and not learning a new language or opening an Etsy shop.

For those of us who are able to work from home, we aren't simply "working from home." We are trying to do our work at home while wondering how much longer we'll have a job, homeschooling children, tending to pets around the clock, worrying about our loved ones, missing our daily routines, and dealing with the grief of a different world. OH! Another point, we are allowed to be sad, mad, pissed off, and disappointed about things that have nothing to do with COVID-19. Our lives are changing. That's overwhelming. Brené Brown does a remarkable job of talking about this in her new podcast "Unlocking Us" that I would highly recommend.

Here are some tips for managing your emotions in the midst of self-isolation and a pandemic:

1. Name it to tame it. Say the name of your emotion out loud. You have to feel it to get through it.

2. Identify where you feel it in your body. A helpful way to do this is through something called a body scan. Start at the top of your head and work your way down slowly until you're able to identify where it is.

3. Take deep breaths while focusing on the area of your body you notice the emotion in.

4. Find an outlet for your emotion- talking to someone (social distancing does not mean social isolation- call, text, video chat), talking to your pet, writing, working out, and meditating are some common ones.

I would encourage everyone to find ways to connect with your body during this time. Yoga, body scans, meditating, deep breathing, working out, self-hugs, and pet snuggles are all soothing options. Our bodies carry our emotions, stress, and trauma and they need extra love during this unsettling, uncertain, and unknown time.

For more tips on coping skills and processing your emotions check out my Insta @kaylaisatherapist



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