You Don’t Have to be a COVID-19 Superstar

“If you don’t come out of this quarantine with either:

1.) a new skill

2.) starting what you’ve been putting off like a new business

3.) more knowledge 

You didn’t ever lack the time, you lacked the discipline”

“Turn your self-imposed quarantine into a career-redefining opportunity with these courses”

“Don’t let your quarantine time go to a waste”

“There’s never been a better time to pick up a new hobby”

Each of these represent an actual news article or tweet. And I vehemently disagree with each.

Since the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020, more and more people have slowly retreated to their homes, practicing social distancing and only going out for essentials. For some, they’ve been forced into law-enforced self-isolation to check for symptoms and to avoid potentially infecting others.

People are getting sicker and dying every day. As of the time of writing (April 19, 2020), Ontario has had 10,578 cases of COVID-19, resulting in 553 deaths. Canada has had 34,786 confirmed cases, with 1,580 deaths. Shoppers continue to panic-buy toilet paper, and surprisingly, some disregard the regulations issued in the new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, resulting in a tip line.

In short, these are not just terrifying times, but also times of drastic change and for new mentalities. This is a time where people’s survival instincts are triggered, and with a variety of opinions, a time where people can feel lost, confused and insecure in their abilities.

Tweets and articles like these are unhelpful and damaging. While some find solace in busying themselves, others struggle with day-to-day tasks. I live with various illnesses, including mental, and COVID-19 has meant fear, worries and stress. I barely finished the school year, having to take an assessed grade and apologizing profusely to my other professor for my essay, which I felt wasn’t written as well as usual. But, I was wrong. My essay was as good as I could make it, and that’s okay.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Wise Center for DBT (@thewisecenter) on

In a time where we are pressured to overperform, I’m here to say: you don’t have to be a COVID-19 superstar.

Excelling means different things for different people. For some, I’m sure they will come out of social distancing speaking another language, having built 17 puzzles or with a new blog. For others, like me, we will have simply made it through, and that is more than enough.

This overperforming mentality, while helpful and inspirational to some, can be damaging. When asked for a comment, psychologist (candidate register) Luci Belknap wrote:

"In the midst of this global pandemic, we are doing enormous work by simply waking up in the morning and remembering what has happened. To achieve balance and maintain our health, this work must be honored by reciprocating it with rest.

Rest can be defined as whatever helps to replenish us. It can look like sleeping, watching Netflix, eating food we like, cuddling a pet (or a person), or taking a walk. Rest can also look like working on hobbies or creating art, but we should be suspicious of pressures to remain productive during a crisis. Stillness and unproductivity can help us to become more self-aware, which in turn helps to keep us safe. The goal is to survive as well as possible; in order to survive, we need to rest."

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Megan Clerk, Ed Psych (@meganclerkedpsych) on

It’s not a matter of “what’s stopping me from doing all of these productive things,” as I find it’s a matter of “what will help me stabilize myself and preserve my mental health.” Happiness and all forms of health are — at the bare minimum — what’s truly important here. Starting new businesses and painting the next masterpieces can wait.

If articles and tweets encouraging productivity are getting to be too much, please take this article as support to practice as much self-care as you need. You don’t have to be the most productive person. Just being yourself is enough.


To learn more about mental health during COVID-19, check out: