• Emily Win

The Pressure To "Do"

Reflection for 3-28-20


Today I set a goal for myself to lean into my anxiety. Instead of ignoring it, I wanted to set the intention of welcoming it so that I can label it, acknowledge it, and let it pass through me. As I've navigated through the the past few days, I've noticed tension collecting in my chest. The strange thing is that I wouldn't even consider myself to feel actively anxious.


However, the mass public right now is in fight or flight mode. In attempts to take myself out of survival mode, I've tried to do many things that feel "normal": I take walks and listen to pop music, I take baths, I make coffee, I waste time on social media. Even simple routines don't seem to quell this rising tension, so I find myself taking on more and more.


For example, today I decided to enroll in three free online college courses in addition to four other projects I'm trying to do at once. And those are just work-based. This doesn't even factor in personal goals, spiritual routines, or feeding myself.


How am I busier during this time of isolation than I was before this outbreak?


The answer is in the anxiety behind the huge pressure to "do" something in this downtime. For those of us present on social media, you've probably noticed people advertising themselves as doing all of the self care, all of the home projects, all of the creating, or all of the job searching.


Do we need to let capitalism fall into the gap of intentional nothingness? My answer to this rhetorical question is a firm "no." However, doing "nothing" is increasingly tough during this time of cabin fever. As human beings we are wired to always be active in mind, spirit, and/or body. It is part of our wiring to "do" things.


So what happens when we are forced to just "be"? We participate in more activities to just "be!" Even though I want to relax into nothingness as the world turns on, there is still an inherent pressure to work on something.


While on my sunny walks over the past few days, I kept thinking about how I think I should feel in this time versus how I actually feel.


How I think I should feel:

-Anxious

-Scared

-Bored

-Inspired

-Nervous

-Sad


How I actually feel:

-Settled

-Confused

-Restless

-Overwhelmed

-Overstimulated

-Burnt out


It IS possible to feel burnt out after a week (or four) of doing nothing. In this time of constant anxiety, our bodies are getting worn down, our nerves are shot, and our mind is constantly racing with or without our awareness. If we want to just be, we have to break down our previous ideas of what unstructured time looks like for us.


Today I give you permission to just be. Whatever that looks like.


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