Lockdown is a woman in her mid- 20s who always posts on Instagram and is finally doing all the things she’s always wanted to. She makes banana bread and uploads a picture of her morning coffee. She does online yoga classes and has salmon and veg for lunch and she NEVER dips her hand into the snack box. She’s also painting and spends her days on Duolingo. And every day she gets up and brushes her hair and effortlessly looks good. She’s pristine and polished and she doesn’t make us feel great about ourselves.
She tells us that this is the optimum time to be productive and to let our creative juices flow and as she does that, we feel the pressure bubbling inside of us to make the most of our free time while we have it. To grab the day by the metaphorical balls and go forth into being the next best writer of our generation or learn Spanish.
Across social media and in the news, we are being encouraged to upgrade our lives somewhat, use every day of freedom (ironic!), to fullest. You are frowned upon for moaning at your loss of social life, guilted into getting up every day and wearing yourself thin. Jilted if you don’t bake or cook from scratch or write or read. You’re deemed a lockdown failure if you leave even one moment free in the day just to sit and be.
I spoke to Rou Egremont, a sales adviser and part time wedding photographer, who is starting to feel the increased pressure social media is putting on us to be at our premium best during lockdown.
Rou has been furloughed for the past 6 weeks and thought this would be the perfect space to let her creativity flow. Instead her free time is a daunting abyss she’s scared to enter.
“I thought lockdown would make up for all the time where I haven’t had the freedom to do the things that I want, like my art work, but then I go on social media and it makes me feel like I’m not doing enough, or what I’m doing isn’t productive enough”
“Like going on Instagram puts a complete stop to what I’m doing and makes me feel almost guilty for not waking up early or making a healthy lunch or learning a new skill”
Rou admits that over the past few weeks she has deleted some social media off her phone because of the way they’ve been making her feel about herself.
“I’m having a constant battle in my head over whether I deserve a lazy day or if it will only make me feel guilty and negative about it.”.
“I just want to paint because I feel like painting, not because I feel like I need to fill the time.”
It’s shocking that we’ve all adopted this attitude that we must do and if we don’t, we’ve failed ourselves. There is a worldwide pandemic happening, our friends and family may be ill, we are worried about our jobs and the future. We’re cooped up inside and its ok to not feel like you’re ok and to sit about and do nothing some days.
Some of us inevitable are going to feel more stress and anxiety in these times. According to a study by the university of Sheffield and Ulster university, depression and anxiety has spiked since Boris Johnson announced the nationwide lockdown, with people reporting significant levels of depression and anxiety.
If anything, in times like right now, we should feel less guilty for doing nothing. There is no need to fill your day. Leave it empty, sit alone, dance around your kitchen, do nothing. Do what soothes you, if you want to write because you love to write, then do it. If you find that working loads is a welcome distraction, then go with it. If binge watching tv because it makes you stop worrying for a few hours, then watch to your hearts content.
When did improving yourself become about productivity and not about contentment?
I think we could all do with being a bit kinder to ourselves and remembering that Instagram is a filtered reality, we see only what they want us to, and most the time the people on there are just like everyone else.