Learning & productivity during pandemics: coping mechanism or burnout?
The social media newsfeeds are full of people dealing with the pandemic like they are on steroids: everyone is a Masterchef, they all have TikTok now, certificates, courses, etc. But aren’t all these just coping mechanisms for uncomfortable emotions and a response to social pressure?
Not sure how you and your circle of people go through this pandemic, but in my social feeds, everyone goes through tens of courses to learn tons of languages, people started to bake the most aesthetic bread that I’ve ever see, and exercises a lot.
And the truth is I cannot do any of them.
Or at least not at this pace.
I am tired. And we need to know our strengths and weaknesses. Usually, people do not talk about it that much because it makes us vulnerable.
And why hide it?
We are vulnerable.
Going through tens of courses and certifications doesn’t mean you learn everything so fast that all those earned papers with your name on them will be extremely useful — it means you spend hours to consume a lot of new knowledge in order to forget a bit about this whole new situation.
But you are not doing it because you are hungry for learning, it’s because you need something new to focus on and you want to be “productive”.
Don’t get me! I will always support learning and productivity. I love small bites of knowledge, and I always did — it’s a habit that I acquired. And yes, once in a while would go through a course, but not tens in a couple of months.
But there is social pressure and image that now that we have to stay at home we should be productive.
We are going through tough times.
We are anxious. People are laid off every day.
Some of us still work (remotely) for 8h a day and have the same chores to do, but without the going out part.
Additionally, communication with others is way more complicated and tiresome: video calls suck out all the energy we still have.
There is a lot of awkward silence, delayed answers, multiple answers at once — it is hard to connect with people and be on the same page. Everyone may seem colder. Especially if most of them never experienced online interactions like this before.
But if you get to look at numbers, at the end of the day, you only have a couple of hours extra (the ones you used to have for commuting, most likely), and way more things on the plate — cooking, taking care of kids, work, have longer meetings because of the online calls, less fresh air, and a social happening that we’ve never experienced before.
This means a lot of stress and anxiety. And that is normal.
I am no therapists, but I know for sure there’s a lot of noise on social media these days.
So, no matter what you do, you are doing great. We all feel a bit overwhelmed, stressed, or fatigued — we just have a different way to cope with it and to show it.
So, if you feel like you went all-in to do everything, just try to find a balance. Your brain will be tired. And you will want to be productive and happy 2 months from now on too.
Try to unplug yourself, take a break, and balance all the information you absorb. Killing your time and stress by working even more and consuming a lot of courses may lead to burnouts — and that is not healthy!
If you are on the other side of the table, just have some ice cream (or wine, if you are an adult or if you like it), enjoy the view of your home, read some poetry (short texts are the best!), avoid social media is you can, and give yourself some space.
Unfortunately, at this point, there is not much we can do or control. So, do what you can and it will be just fine :)