Give Yourself a Break! Avoid “Productivity Pressure” During Self-Isolation

avoid productivity pressure during self-isolation
avoid productivity pressure during self-isolation

Spend just a few minutes on social media and you’re likely to be bombarded with posts about productivity. Some people are boasting about learning new languages, getting in shape, decluttering their homes, or finally starting that novel. Others are posting “motivational” memes reminding you to be super-productive with your newfound “free” time.

At the same time, for many of us, the reality is much different. The truth is, during this time of unprecedented stress and anxiety, it’s not unusual to feel like even getting dressed in the morning is a major struggle. And — guess what — this is totally fine!

We are in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s okay to occasionally feel paralyzed with fear. Now is a time to be realistic about our mental and emotional capacity. It’s okay — even necessary — to ditch this “productivity pressure,” and give ourselves a break.

Take a look at these tips for coping with anxiety and simple ways to practice self-care during self-isolation.

Don’t Take Social Media Too Seriously

First of all, take everything you see on social media with a grain of salt. Remember that people typically aren’t going to post things like:

“I drank a whole bottle of wine today”

“I haven’t showered in 3 days”

“I’m so anxious I can’t even get out of bed”

Instead, they’re only posting when they have something to boast about. When you don’t see the other side of the story, it’s easy to think that everyone else is doing so much better than you are. In almost all cases, this simply isn’t true. Beware of comparing someone’s “highlight reel” to your reality.

Take a Social Media Break

Right now, “productivity pressure” is the least of social media’s problems. From political rants coming from all sides to depressing news and people you care about arguing and being rude to one another, it can definitely feel like there’s less and less to love about social media these days.

If you’re feeling this way, consider taking a total break from social media. Try stepping away for a few days to see how it feels or take a longer break. If you’re worried about losing touch, consider posting that you’re stepping away for a while and asking people to keep in touch with you in other ways (message, text, etc.).

Another option is to clean up your Facebook feed by snoozing or unfollowing certain people without unfriending them (here’s how).

Sick of Uncle Joe’s constant political memes or your friend’s daily workout posts? This is a great way to stay friends with them while keeping their posts out of sight — at least for a little while.

It’s also a good idea to limit the total amount of time you spend on social media. When you have extra time on your hands, it’s easy to fall down this rabbit hole, but, it’s generally not great for your mental health. So, decide what times you’ll hop on and how long you’ll stay, then, when the time’s up, go find something else to do.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Everyone deals with stress differently. For some people, channeling anxious energy into projects is what helps them cope. If you’re not one of these people, that’s perfectly okay.

Stop comparing your current situation to others and, instead, focus on what feels right to you. It might take some time for you to figure out the best ways to cope and the types of self-care that are most effective for you.

Create a New Routine

There’s plenty of evidence that daily routines are good for your mental health. While your routine will certainly be different than it was before, it’s still a good idea to have at least a loose one in place.

Don’t make the mistake, however, of thinking that your routine has to be focused on productivity. It could be as simple as setting aside a certain time each day to go for a walk or read your favorite novel. Think about the types of things that help support your mental health — like meditating, journaling, or putting on some music and dancing around the house — then make sure you create space in your schedule to make that happen.

Take Breaks

If you’re working from home, it’s easy to get too wrapped up in your work and burn out. On the other side of the spectrum, it’s also easy to feel unmotivated and have difficulty focusing. You can combat both of these scenarios by taking regular breaks throughout the day.

Many people find that they do best by working for 25 minutes, taking a 5-minute break, and repeating this throughout the day. When your brain starts to learn that a short period of focus always results in a break, you’ll find it easier to avoid distractions. If you suddenly get an urge to check your Facebook account, respond to a text, or go to a walk, you’ll be able to look at the clock and say “only xx more minutes, and then I can go do (insert task)”

It’s also important to set a time when you’ll stop working each day and stick to it. When your “office” is only a few feet away, it’s easy to want to hop back on the computer and check some emails or wrap up a project after dinner. However, this isn’t great for your mental health and can end up straining your relationships. When the workday is done, turn it off and focus on your family.

Get More Sleep

It’s also common for the anxiety you feel to make it difficult to sleep at night. If you’re really stressed, your body may need more rest to effectively cope. If you’re finding that you feel tired during the day, don’t be afraid to add a nap into your routine. Just don’t sleep for too long. Generally, a 10 to 20-minute rest can help boost alertness. Longer naps may leave you with a brain-fog and make it harder for you to sleep at night.

Take a Break from the News

It seems like COVID-19 news is everywhere you look — on the TV, radio, and all over social media. The constant exposure to all this bad news can lead to “headline anxiety” and make you feel hopeless or depressed.

While it’s important to stay up to date on what’s going on, you don’t need the constant barrage. Instead, plan to check the news for no more than an hour two or three times a day, then turn it off and give your brain a chance to enjoy the silence. Put on some relaxing music or take your laptop outside and listen to nature, instead of the news.

Nourish Your Body

Lastly, each time you eat a meal, you have an opportunity to engage in self-care. While it’s certainly tempting to grab a handful of cookies or nosh on that bag of Doritos, doing so is not doing you any favors.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in moderation once in a while. But, you’ll feel much better if you focus on eating a balanced diet (including fruits and vegetables) whenever you can. Also avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water. These simple tips will help you stay healthy and make you feel better overall.

Ditch Productivity Pressure and Calm Your Nerves Today!

If you’re feeling unfocused, scattered, or even paralyzed, remember that this is perfectly acceptable. Terrifying new things are happening every day, and you’re processing it as best you can.

Some days you may feel on top of the world, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, feel completely overwhelmed. Listen to your body and give yourself a break when you need it.

We are all very anxious right now and there’s nothing wrong with that. Pushing yourself to be over-productive or feeling guilty for not achieving major accomplishments won’t do anything to make things better. So, take a deep breath, do what you can, and, each night, congratulate yourself for managing to get through one more day.

Originally published at on April 17, 2020.

Full-time freelance writer, blogger, and marketing expert. Learn more at

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