There is this sense that somehow this time in isolation ought to be a motivator to tackle a giant to-do list. Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

Speaking Out: Reclaiming time during pandemic

By  Kathleena Henricus, Youth Speak News
  • May 20, 2020

It has been over two months since the enacting of shelter-in-place and social distancing orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has forced us into new circumstances, going forward in an uncharted “new normal.”

The drastic shift to working remotely, online school and constantly being at home has given us a lot of free time, time that was usually spent commuting, in meetings or just being busy.

We should aim to look at this extra time through a positive lens. This time, we are protecting ourselves and our neighbours by heeding our medical professionals’ warnings to help flatten the curve. It can be used to re-connect, grow spiritually, find a new hobby and slow down.

In the first weeks of quarantine, social media at large was a beacon of support. People were trying to look on the bright side and sharing inspiring words to encourage others to find fun at home, stay safe and stay active together.

But lately, I’ve noticed some people have seemingly forgotten that we’re in a global pandemic. Even ignoring those who blatantly disregard social distancing measures (putting themselves and others at extreme risk), I’ve started to see the support change into something less understanding.

There’s a constant influx of negativity, primarily targeted at teens, young professionals and new parents. There is this sense that somehow this time in isolation ought to be a motivator to tackle a giant to-do list — lose more weight, work more overtime, engage with your kids 24/7 … the list goes on. Not using this time to hit some new level of excellence leaves you open to labels such as unproductive and lazy.

While there has always been a faction of social media that zeros in on “tough love” and aggressive motivation, during a time when we are trapped with a constant stream of content, it can be extremely dangerous.

Isolation is alienating. It’s hard enough being a teen dealing with body image, or a young professional just starting out, or a new parent. During a pandemic, to be bombarded continuously and attacked online, saying that you’re not doing enough and not doing what you are doing well enough, brings immense pressure — on top of trying to stay safe and sane in a time of crisis.

This period at home is not a vacation, not a sabbatical or a time of relaxation; it is a pandemic and a wake-up call from hustle culture. We live in uncertain times, and it is clear that we’ve been functioning as a society that has not been healthy — physically or mentally.

It’s time to reclaim health by exercising for wellness, not to be a specific size, and it’s time for us to work to support ourselves and our families, not to burn ourselves out and break us mentally. This time can be a gift if we use it to grow in Christ, in wellness and connection, instead of belittling any fear, doubt or worry.

We need to prove ourselves to Christ. There is no need to impress some self-proclaimed social media influencers looking to profit on global misfortune.

(Henricus, 16, is a Grade 10 student at Cawthra Park Secondary School in Mississauga, Ont.)

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