Giving up the guilt as you shelter at home

In a society that places so much importance on performance and productivity, it can be hard to give yourself permission to do nothing. With the pressure from social media to always be at your best and use the current situation to follow through on your resolutions and to-do lists you could easily get the impression that there’s a “right” way to shelter at home. Here are a few tips to help you be a little kinder to yourself in these unusual times.

Are quarantine challenges are a good idea?

With the current requirements for physical distancing, most of us have had more free time at home in the past few weeks. It can be tempting to view this situation as the perfect opportunity to tackle projects you’re always putting off for later.

But setting unrealistic goals that don’t correspond to your needs or desires at the moment can undermine your psychological well being. There’s a general consensus among mental health experts that being aware of your reactions is key to taking care of yourself and combatting the stress, fear, and anxiety surrounding COVID 19.

To get away from those guilt inducing prompts and help you focus on well being, here’s an “anti to do” list for you while you’re in lockdown.

Leave that pile of unread books on the shelf

Has that pile of books you’ve been meaning to read gotten a little out of hand? Before challenging yourself to mow through the lot, ask yourself if you really feel like it. After all, maybe there’s a reason you didn’t get around to reading them in the first place!

To keep a pleasant pastime from turning into a chore, you could try revisiting a light hearted novel you enjoyed. And if the book you choose fails to inspire you, don’t keep plodding along. Just set it aside. You should also avoid piling all the books you mean to read in one place, since that hefty stack may soon start to feel like it’s shooting accusing glances in your direction. Better to take it at one book at a time than to risk triggering an insurmountable case of reader’s block!

Stick to your usual cleaning routine

If you’re feeling super motivated and have been using the last few weeks to organize your drawers and declutter your garage, great! But if transforming your home into a haven of cleanliness doesn’t seem like a reason to get out of bed in the morning, that’s okay too.

As long as you’re following the basic guidelines for good hygiene and the recommendations of health authorities, that spring clean-o-thon can probably wait another few weeks.

Don’t become a home fitness junkie

Physical activity is, of course, essential to your overall health. You won’t find any reputable health experts claiming otherwise. But that doesn’t mean you have to set fitness goals that exceed the level of effort you can reasonably be expected to put in.

If you’re usually sedentary, don’t launch into high intensity workouts straight out of the gate. Instead, start with moderate activities like stretching or yoga. You’ll find plenty of videos for beginners online. Then you can add other activities or increase the level of difficulty as your fitness improves. Remember that starting slowly is key to staying motivated, and that you’re not aiming to qualify for the Olympics!/p>


Don’t learn a new skill

Learning is an excellent way to improve your cognitive ability. But if you’re currently having a hard time focusing and don’t feel inclined to acquire a new skill, by all means put that goal on the back burner. Otherwise your results could be underwhelming, which will likely sap your motivation in the long run.

Adding to a knowledge base or improving an existing skill may be a better way to keep your mind busy without overtaxing yourself. If you know some Spanish, for example, you could work on your vocabulary by watching a Latino TV series.


Don’t obsess

Many experts agree that spending too much time checking news about the COVID 19 pandemic can heighten feelings of stress and anxiety. So try not to overdo it—and make sure the news you are getting is coming from reliable sources (e.g., government press conferences, the WHO website). And if you have friends or family who tend to share unreliable information, disregard it.


Leave that unwritten novel for another day

From knitting to learning a new coding language to practicing calligraphy or writing a novel, we all have an unfinished project stowed away in a drawer or a corner of our minds somewhere. But remember that if you set it aside, it wasn’t a priority, or it didn’t inspire you as much as you thought it did. If being holed up hasn’t produced the urge to give it another go, that may mean you’re just not ready to devote time and energy to it.

If anything, this may be a good time to consider which of the objects piled up in your cupboards—or which of the files stored in your computer—you actually want to keep.

Don’t go on a diet

Those tips on how to avoid gaining weight while sheltering at home can be a lot more toxic than they seem. They can be a source of additional and unnecessary stress, especially if you’re already worried about your weight. They can also have a negative impact on your relationship with food and your physical self.

Be kind to yourself, even if you find it hard to maintain good eating habits. Don’t let society’s obsession with thinness hijack your daily life, especially during a crisis.

Screens are your friend!

In an ideal world, we would always be available for quality playtime with our kids. But in our current situation, buying a bit of downtime by upping the allowance on screen time is exactly what many parents need. So stop feeling guilty about letting your kids spend a bit more time than usual in front of the TV!

And if in the evening you feel the need to unwind with a sitcom or a bit of binge-watching, by all means, kick up your feet and relax. Just remember to rest your eyes for a few minutes each hour so you don’t strain them or get a headache.

Kindness and compassion

In a global crisis, it’s normal to feel fear, frustration, stress, and even anxiety. What’s more, many of us face trying times at home, so it’s little wonder you may not be at the top of your game.

It’s incredibly important to be compassionate with yourself right now so that you don’t get overwhelmed by negative emotions and you can adjust to the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic. It will also keep you from being too harsh with yourself once things get back to normal.

If you’re having trouble coping with the stress, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a health professional so that you can get personalized support. There are a number of resources available for people experiencing psychological distress.


Helpful resources and links