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Why we should be kind to ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic

Caoimhe talks about being proud of whatever you achieve during the day, no matter how big or small


Written by Cáoimhe Horgan and posted in opinion


This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact editor@spunout.ie.


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Although millions upon millions of people from all over the world are currently staying at home, life in global pandemic does not look the same for everyone. During this COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, some people are working from home, others are essential workers on the frontlines, and some of us are left with no work at all. Some students are studying for exams, or attending daily online classes, or have loads of assignments, some are juggling all three. The list goes on.

Different people are faced with different challenges and experiences during these unusual times, and although daily life varies for everyone, I think we can all agree that things are...different. Difficult. Scary. Confusing. Uncertain. Nobody truly knows what exactly is happening and how to handle it. We’re listening to the advice of professionals and of the government on how to keep safe and to stop the spread of the virus, but things like this have never really happened before. There was never a manual written about what to do during a pandemic, and so we’re forced to abandon our normal, functioning routine, and this just doesn’t work for everyone.

Having no routine

Having to stay at home is difficult for me. Normally, I'm at school focused on classes and schoolwork and distracted by friends, with a set, timetabled routine. When I'm at home I have projects and homework to concentrate on. Time ticks away nicely, and daily life slides by, for the most part, without a problem. Life during the COVID-19 pandemic however isn’t so easy. Long, long periods of time with no schedule, nothing to focus on, allows me to have a lot of time and space to think, to worry, to get distracted. I desperately tried to pass the time by being productive, setting up a strict routine I should follow and focus on instead. I tried to do everything the same as I had before being told to stay at home and yet, it didn’t work. I was so distracted and all over the place that I barely managed to achieve the bare minimum for each day.

Comparing myself to others

I began feeling very, very guilty. Here I was, anxious and unproductive, while some of my friends and people I know were able to use the time wisely to learn new skills, try new hobbies, be productive and improve their life. I compared how I was coping at home to how they were, and felt so guilty that what I managed to get done in a day was only a fraction of what they could do. Why couldn’t I just get things done? How could they hold up so well, yet I struggled so much?

But here’s the thing, these times are not normal. They are so unlike anything we’ve ever faced before that the things we used to do, the normal routines we used to follow, just don’t work for some people anymore. We can’t expect ourselves to act and function as well as we did before all of this, because that just isn’t realistic. Many people are worried, anxious, confused and uncertain. We can’t dismiss that.

Go easy on yourself

I learned that the best thing to do right now is to be kind to yourself. You’re going through a very, very hard time and if doing the bare minimum for each day is all you can manage at the moment, then that is more than okay. Everyone copes differently, and it can help to spend less time comparing yourself to others who may seem more calm and collected. Understanding that we are all in different situations with different challenges will help massively.

You’re doing the best you can

Forgive yourself for not being able to do the things you wish you could right now. I’m trying really hard with this because I know it’s the best thing for me. Doing “your best” in these times is something that looks completely different to “your best minus the global pandemic.” It’s so easy to be disappointed in yourself for being what you consider unproductive, but we all really need to praise ourselves for achieving even the most simple of tasks instead, and forgive ourselves for not achieving the things we wish we could. For me right now, getting up, having a shower, getting dressed and handing in whatever homework is due for the day is doing my very best, is what’s realistic for me to achieve at the moment, and I have learned that that’s okay. The small, simple things you normally dismiss are what you should be proud of achieving.

Taking each day as it comes, being kind and understanding to yourself and taking the time to do the things you enjoy while being at home are so necessary. You’re doing the best you can do right now, given the circumstances, and you should be so proud of yourself for that.

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Published April 15th2020
Last updated Sep­tem­ber 18th2020
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