Haven’t Baked Any Bread, Organised a Wardrobe or Worked Out Once? Why It’s Totally Ok to Not Be ‘Productive’ – and Finding the Freedom in Lockdown

Whip out your phone right now and jump on Instagram and I guarantee you’ll see one of three things:

  1. Cats. So many cats.
  2. Alcohol. So much alcohol.
  3. Productiveness. So. Much. Productiveness.

Wake up on day three thousand of lockdown and I guarantee you’ll feel one of three things:

  1. ‘Ok, here we are – ready to make the most of it’
  2. ‘Ah Christ, here we go again’
  3. I. Cannot. I. Cannot. I. Cannot. I. Cannot.

In the latest, biggest display of Instagram V Reality, it can seem as though that you’re the only one in this latest lockdown who is still in bed at 11am struggling to summon any energy to even make a coffee.

And that’s not if you have Zoom meetings to attend, kids to school, a house to run and food to make (God if you’re going through this with kids, I send my thoughts and prayers and hopes that the booze cabinet was stocked before this happened.)

Now there’s nothing wrong with using more time around the house to get shit done, and if that’s helping you through these rough times then yes queen, you get your clean on, bread baked and makeup draw organised.

But if seeing everyone else tackle said jobs and tasks on social media and are asking yourself why washing your hair feels like climbing Kilimanjaro and you want to watch the entirety of Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the sixth time, know you’re not alone.

The pressure to be productive is something we live with every day, even before pandemics and worldwide crises. It’s called ‘Hustle Culture’ and it’s a by-product of late capitalism – a manifestation of ‘hard work pays off’ but with the added pressures of social media and 24/7 connectivity and contactability. Oh, and millennial culture because we genuinely can’t afford anything but that’s a rant for another time.

We’re all just trying to cope through a tough time here, and as the team of five million wearily trudge through lockdown number God knows what, we’re just all doing what need to do to get by with whatever slivers of sanity we still possess.

Isolate Work From Home GIF by SLOTHILDA

So, first things first – not feeling motivated is NORMAL. You remember that whole ‘new normal’ term we were throwing around last year, mostly accompanied by an uneasy chuckle and slightly maniacal eyes? Yeah, well, welcome to reality, kids.

Lockdowns have been shown to increase anxiety – yeah I know it’s wildly stating the obvious – but think about what you’re having to deal with now, even just on a practical level. And THEN you consider the mental side of the isolation, fear and panic of the pandemic on a whole.

The thing is that anxious brains process two or three times the number of thoughts than a normal brain (which is 70,000 while literally blows my mind because I didn’t realise I had 1000 thoughts a day let alone 70,000). So if you’re on the anxious side right now and you’re tired ‘for no reason’ it’s because 210,000 thoughts have raced through your brain today and even reading that should make you want a nap because, damn.

You can still accept the fact that our lockdown is just simply what we have to do to keep as many of us safe as we can – I love that haiku, ‘We isolate now, so when we gather again, no one is missing’ – but it doesn’t mean it’s not tough, especially with many people’s outlets and coping mechanisms cut off. The gym, the beach, nature and socialising are all huge parts of balancing hectic hustle lives and when we’re not able to turn to those, we find other ways. Yes, I’m looking at you, drinks trolley.

However, there is a gleaming silver lining of our current situation – what I like to call the freedom of lockdown.

In ‘normal’ life we put so many self-imposed restrictions on ourselves, and if you’re anything like me, you try your best to control what you can, when you can.

But in lockdowns and pandemics, you have absolutely no choice but to relinquish control over your situation. You trust the science, trust the government and trust that we’ll get through this weird time in humanity’s history, and in the meantime, I figure the best thing to do is ride the Coronacoaster as chicly you can.

Give yourself permission to do less. There’s nothing normal about this shit show – so why should you be? Don’t add to an already stressful time with self-imposed tress about the things you ‘should’ be doing. What you ‘should’ be doing is just get through, whatever that looks like to you.

Do what makes you happy. Will cleaning out the pantry make you happy today? Do it! Will staying on the couch watching The Princess Diaries make you happy? Do it! Don’t feel guilty about being ‘lazy’. It’s not laziness – it’s coping.

Don’t add to the pile. Make life as easy on yourself as you can. Do you need to just eat chicken nuggets for dinner because you can’t face cooking? YES. Emails getting too much? Put on your out-of-office and tell people you’ll get back to them when you can

Remember if you’re still trying to juggle a full-time job – you’re not working from home, you’re in the middle of a crisis, trying to work. If you’re a parent, remind yourself you’re not a teacher and then silently pledge to sign any future petition for teacher pay rises.

And then find whatever silver lining you can grab onto – and just go with that. Be kind to yourself girl, and see you on the other side!

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