We are currently living in unprecedented times, with everyone experiencing some disruption to their daily lives. As a result of COVID-19, many of us have been remanded to our homes for the vast majority of our time in accordance with physical distancing guidelines. With so much free time being created in the wake of physical distancing, there have been many excellent resources, activities and projects being shared around the world. These activities help people keep busy and somewhat distracted from the pandemic affecting our world. For the most part, these are excellent suggestions and are helping lots of people stay busy.
Among these ideas to keep busy, I have noticed a great deal that address self-improvement. These suggestions are often excellent for providing great ways to exercise from home, improve your diet, or learn a new skill. On its face, this is excellent; however I have both seen and experienced a slightly more disturbing aspect of all these suggestions. This is the idea not that we can use this time for self-improvement, but that we should be using this time to improve ourselves in some way. Now, I am in no way saying that any of these suggested activities are bad in their own right. I agree that we all need to be as healthy as possible. What I find concerning is the idea that we should be participating in bettering ourselves during this time. We are all adjusting to a new normal and what that looks like for each of us is very different. To expect each of us to be able to try a new diet, exercise more, or learn a new skill is not a realistic expectation in my opinion.
People are working different hours, taking care of their children and families, or just focussed on getting through this time in the best way they can. If you have extra time and decide to use it to pick up that guitar you have had since college and never learned to play, then that is excellent. If you decide to use the extra time to unwind and binge a few episodes of your favourite Netflix series, that is excellent as well. The last thing people need right now is the added guilt that they aren’t making the most of their pandemic experience. To me, when worded that way, it seems very odd to have a focus on self-improvement during a global emergency. I think that is easily lost in our pursuits of a new normal, that this is a global emergency and we are allowed to just get through it as best we can. The entire world is being impacted by this disease, and everyone is coping and adjusting to that differently.
Keeping ourselves mentally healthy during this time is immensely important. This means finding ways to cope with all the stresses that have been imposed upon us by COVID-19, and not adding the extra stress of improving yourself if that does not help you cope. Exercise more or enjoy a good movie, change your diet or eat some pizza, learn a new skill or enjoy one you already have. However you choose to spend your time during this pandemic, ensure you keep yourself mentally healthy while we continue to adjust to the new world we find ourselves in. At the end of the day, no one should feel guilty about how they spend their time, so do whatever keeps you happiest and keeps you mentally healthy. With this unprecedented situation comes a lot of stress about our uncertain future. I believe no one needs to add stress or pressure onto themselves to take part in self-improvement right now. Just keep yourself mentally healthy, and take comfort knowing that we will all get through this, and that you can always learn a new skill or run that 10km after we have beaten COVID-19.
Family and Community Literacy Coordinator
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