Sanity, Productivity & Volunteerism In The Time of COVID
There is much uncertainty in these times of COVID-19, many are experiencing difficulty with remaining productive and sane. Some people are just entering the job market, others have just started, and some have been furloughed or laid off. While people have various levels of experiences with the impact of the virus depending on their circumstance, it’s not easy on anyone. People are wondering if they’re doing too much, or not enough. How’ll they plan for the future? What this moment of pause means? How to make the most of it?
While we can’t answer a lot of these concerns, there are ways we can manage them. As an event planner, I felt that my industry would be the last to come back and the best I can do for my own sanity is to sit around and wait. This mindset kept me going for a few weeks, then eventually I hit a wall. I realized that I thrive with being needed and contributing to a greater goal. I realized that I have to shift gears and identify my transferable skills because not working and “waiting” for the industry to come back is unrealistic. Initially, that mindset was my coping mechanism for staying sane. What was lacking, was the will to be productive and the change in my mental attitude triggered a change in my productivity.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, try to think through these questions:
What is something you love doing that isn’t in your current or former job description?
What is something in your current or former job description that you didn’t love and why?
What can you do to make that better or different? How can you improve a weak skill?
What skills have you gained over the years in your industry that can translate over to another industry?
Prior to COVID-19, I had another setback. I tore my ACL & needed surgery delaying my plans to move and start a new job. Now with everything that has happened, it’s been very challenging for me to plan ahead. Often I find myself feeling paralyzed with no chance of upward mobility. Ultimately, I remind myself that no one is able to plan ahead right now, and the best thing I can do is focus on personal growth and being in “the present”. For me, this looks like (finally) finding a therapist (I feel like everyone should be in talk therapy, especially now), focusing on ways to stay productive (volunteering), and staying fit and healthy.
It’s extremely important to be on top of your mental health, now more than ever. There is a direct correlation between physical and mental health. If you find that you’ve been less active during this pandemic, I recommend increasing your physical activity. Avoid setting unrealistic goals; choosing to simply be more active, and working towards a general goal, step by small step, is enough. Additionally, it is empowering to shift your internal dialogue from “how can I help myself?” to “how can I help others?” This pivot will allow you to think more broadly about the current situation and to view yourself as someone who can help instead of a person who needs help.
We are approaching 80 days of quarantine and each day the ‘new normal’ becomes more apparent. The concept of “making the most of this time” and pondering on “what this moment of pause means” is as counterproductive as it is productive. Instead of thinking about it in those terms, a better approach may be to accept the fact that this is not a test of character or strength, and as long as you are keeping yourself and those around you safe, you are making the most of your time. Accepting the new normal opens doors in your mind to imagine and navigate new goals. It’s 100% okay to not aim for big achievements. But now is a better time than ever to focus on your health, learn a new skill, set new goals, and volunteer.
Studies show that volunteering can help boost socioemotional development and growth for adults of all ages. Volunteering is not only beneficial for the community/cause that you care about, but it’s also an opportunity to build identity capital. Reach out to an organization that supports a cause you are passionate about, chances are they need support. There are tons of great resources for finding online volunteering, from global organizations such as the UN to grassroots organizations like your local animal shelter.
The best cure for panic and paralysis caused by this pandemic is stepping both inside and outside of yourself. Take time to reflect, make time to help others.