As we clock the one-month mark of iso life, a few things have begun to set in. We know we can’t really watch Netflix while working from home, putting on pants every day does help a little, and we could all make banana bread with our eyes closed thanks to the constant stream of Insta stories about them.
But there’s another niggling feeling that seems to be hanging around, and while we can’t quite think of a fancy name for it, we’ll just call it what it is—the pressure to create. With many of us having way more spare time on our hands either due to reduced work hours or simply the fact that we can’t go out and socialise, we’re left thinking of ways to fill it.
One scroll through Insta or a virtual vino with mates and you’ll soon learn some people are revelling in this new-found mental freedom. Some are finally writing that novel they’ve always wanted to, they’re learning Italian, launching their organic candle line from their garage or they’re taking up painting—right now, there’s a lot of creativity happening.
And that’s a good thing according to psychologist Doone Richmond, “having an outlet is an important aspect of human flourishing. If you look at the wealth of research from the world of positive psychology on the elements that help us flourish as human beings, one of them is ‘Engagement’ often described as experiencing flow—where time passes and you don’t realise it. Many people experience this through creativity.”
But what if you’re not feeling said flow? What if the most creative thing you’ve done today is sprinkle a little balsamic glaze over your avo toast? Although you might have already guessed it, it’s actually ok to not feel ok right now. And given the current state of affairs, for many anxiety levels are peaking. Which doesn’t exactly make for a creative environment. So why is it that some of us are thriving, while some (right here) are just surviving?
“We’re addicted to being busy,” says Richmond. “It’s a myth that if you aren’t busy you can’t be enjoying life or contributing productively.”
“There’s a lot of discussion around what people will do with additional time they may have during this period, however some people have never had the opportunity to take a break from their working life, or their two-hour commute, so they probably haven’t had the head space to even think about what a new skill might look like, or how that might contribute to their career longer term. This can translate to some people thinking ‘what’s wrong with me?’. Well, there’s nothing wrong.”
So the good news is, we’re not broken. We’re all just adjusting to our “new normal”, so stop comparing yourself to others, and especially to what you see people doing on social media.
“It’s completely reasonable to allow yourself time to adjust to your new circumstances,” Richmond adds. “Once we settle into the new norm, when our basic needs are satisfied, i.e. we know our job is secure, or we have managed to secure financial assistance, or our landlord is being reasonable… and for some that the toilet paper gets back on the shelf, our mind will naturally move to the next level of importance. For some that might mean addressing boredom, which may or may not manifest in something creative. For now, everyone needs to be kind to themselves and give themselves the time to adjust.”
So, give yourself a break, allow yourself to just be and the next time you see a mate or a random person on Insta starting a new business venture, remind yourself that you got up today—during a pandemic—and you’re giving it a go, we reckon that’s something to be proud of.
In the meantime, check out these meditation and mindfulness podcasts to help you zen out.
Image Credit: Visual Spectrum
Doone Richmond is a Registered Psychologist currently working in private practice as a Psychologist and also leads the Wellness@Work® practice of Alchemy Career Management where she consults to organisations on their Wellbeing strategy and facilitates training for organisations on Wellness@Work including Mental Health Training.