“Have you seen the new season of Money Heist on Netflix?”
“Did you sign up for that virtual yoga class?
“Do you have Disney+ ? You have to get one there’s so much to watch!”
“This is the perfect time to start learning that instrument!”
“Author X has just released a new series of books! Do you have them?”
Does any of the above sound familiar to you? My guess is yes.
I have written about this topic before in my post Overloaded in a Modern World but now that the whole world seems to have so much more spare time on their hands, it has made its way into my consciousness again. And that is this constant pressure to achieve, do things, learn things, smash your goals.
And now that most of the world is in lockdown, we are flooded with emails, posts on our social feeds, and adverts on how this is the “perfect time” to get into shape. The “ideal time” to catch up on series. The “best” time to start that new hobby.
I am personally struggling a lot with this. I find it really difficult to give myself a break as it is. To allow myself time to relax. I feel like if I am not achieving I am failing or wasting time. If I do have an “unproductive day” I end up feeling so guilty about it.
To make matters worse, all of this achieving and doing is constantly being shoved in our face through our Instagram feeds. It is mentally exhausting.
For those of you that have not read the Matt Haig’s brilliant book Notes on a Nervous Planet, let me fill you in on one of the many quotable bits in the book:
“We have multiplied everything, but we are still individual selves. There is only one of us. And we are smaller than the internet. To enjoy life, we might have to stop thinking about what we will never be able to read and watch and say and do, and start to think of how to enjoy the world within our boundaries. To focus on the few things we can do, not the millions that we can’t.”Matt Haig
When I read this it felt as though someone had given me a big hug. It was like someone said “it’s okay, Mike. You are one person. There is no way you can read all the books that you want or do all the yoga classes you wish you could. It is not possible for you to listen to all the podcasts that you think you’ll like or watch all the “must-see” films on Netflix. It’s okay to say no and surrender to the pressure because the reality is that you can’t do it all, nobody can”.
When we are flooded with too many options and things are so accessible, even amidst a lockdown, a lot of us get anxious and do nothing. And then feel bad that we are doing nothing. Or worse, we struggle to enjoy the things we have chosen to do because we are constantly thinking that there is something better we could be doing. It’s a vicious and never ending cycle and is very damaging to our mental health.
We need to listen to Matt Haig more. This is the kind of advice we should be spreading. Whatever you are doing is enough. However long the process takes you is okay too. Say no to everyone else. Shut it out of your mind and focus on the stuff that makes you feel good.
And I say all of this as a chronic sufferer of this need to “do do do”, so this is advice I need to take too, and I can only try. And instead of banging out this post in one frazzled sitting as I usually do, I’ve written it over the course of a week instead, so I am trying.
Stay safe people, and look after yourself.