Across the globe, many are being forced to shelter in place, or at the very least social distance from others. Whether people are filling their time with work, projects, or anything in between, this is true for all– suddenly, we have an abundance of time that we need to find something to do with, and many are turning to work to fill that hole. This is the perfect time to show one’s dedication to their job, isn’t it?
In the United States, we live in a “hustle culture–” a culture built around the idea that we can’t be successful in life if we don’t exert ourselves to our mental and physical limits when it comes to what we want to achieve. On the surface, this isn’t a bad thing. It is great that people have something they are passionate about. However, this culture has significant negative impacts on all.
Those who push through the “grind” of hustle culture boast about how they don’t take breaks or vacations. They don’t sleep, they jut work. This sort of behavior is a very steep, slippery slope to burnout, and Psychology Today warns there are even worse implications. Studies show that overworking oneself destroys one’s mental and physical health, harms interpersonal relationships, and can even lead to an early death.
This time to ourselves isn’t the perfect time to dive into one’s work. Instead, it’s the perfect time to dive into a world of self-care and discovery.
Start small by allowing yourself breaks. Back in the office, you’d often take time to top and talk to a co-worker, or maybe to go get coffee. Give yourself these mental breaks– even if they’re only five or ten minutes. Walk around for a few minutes to get the blood flowing. Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Your lunch break is called a “break” for a reason, and you need to take advantage of that. Give yourself a good meal and get away from your computer screen. Don’t work all the way through the night– cut off work at a reasonable hour and use the time you might have spent in a commute to do something you genuinely enjoy.
Some people are so deeply ingrained in that hustle culture that they say they don’t have any hobbies. Take some time to rediscover what you love. Perhaps, in high school, you were in a literary magazine. Pick up that love of poetry again by reading a book and trying your hand at a few stanzas. If you used to be an athletic person, follow an online exercise program and get your blood pumping. If you enjoy a good mixed drink, try your hand at your favorite cocktails.
Think about the things you once enjoyed, and bring them back to your life.
Take into consideration the wants you can achieve, and allow yourself to experience them. Don’t be afraid to take an hour or two to catch up on those television shows that people have been telling you to watch. Don’t be afraid to take a bubble bath and wear a face mask. Make your favorite cookies for yourself, and yourself alone.
Let this time be a teaching moment. Learn that it is okay to make time for yourself, in fact, it’s encourage. Learn that it is okay to step back and just selfishly enjoy yourself. This is not the time to be hard on yourself. This is not the time to push yourself to unreasonable limits. Everyone is stressed by the current events. This is the time to learn to be kind to yourself again, and to reflect that kindness on others.