I have been seeing a lot of posts all over social media of people taking their extra time away from work to start working on themselves, enjoy their hobbies, or learn something new. I think that’s absolutely awesome and I salute anyone who has been able to do that. However, I think it’s worth noting that due to the current state of things throughout the world, not everyone is in the best mental state to be able to expand their horizons and start new projects or learn new things. This is a difficult and stressful time for many people, and right now we’re all doing the best we can.
Upon getting laid off from my job, I decided that I was going to make sure I used the time I would have been stuck at work to learn and expand my practice, as well as develop my hobbies and work on my writing. I realize that I have the rare privilege to be able to do these things after having lost my job. I am lucky enough to (a) qualify for unemployment and (b) have a partner who is an essential worker and has the capacity to support me while I search for another job. I know that many many people are not as lucky.
Because this is such a difficult time and there are many people who don’t have the ability to enjoy some extra time off (without the financial stress of not having a job or the overall stress of the pandemic sweeping the world), I wanted to make the most of the extra time on my hands by being productive and finding other ways to improve myself and contribute to society in a different way.
While on the one hand, I have been able to do some learning and take time to enjoy my hobbies, I have also been getting very down on myself for not doing as much as I intended going into this. This is a weird time full of stress, uncertainty, anger, and lots of grief for everyone. We’re all effected by the events surrounding the pandemic in different ways, and I have been getting the sense that many of us are not giving ourselves enough time to mental deal with everything that’s going on.
For those of us who are isolating as much as possible, the mental strain of being unable to see the people we care about combined with the worry of those close to us getting sick is becoming very apparent. No matter how introverted you may be, we are all social creatures by nature and our mental health relies on some form of social interaction from time to time. I pride myself in being able to occupy myself and not relying on social events for entertainment or interaction, but I am finding that not being able to see my family or friends is getting difficult.
I will be the first to admit that delving into learning about witchcraft and getting more involved with my deities has been in some way a distraction for me. I am by nature a planner, so when every single thing in life is up in the air and uncertain, my planning has gone into setting a study schedule for myself and wildly unrealistic goals to achieve.
Then, after a few days to a week of nonstop reading and writing, I crash. I have not been giving myself the mental breaks I need in order to deal with the emotional stress of the situation I am in. Instead, when I crash I look up spells to use to get myself going again and get over any negative emotions I’m feeling. News flash (mostly to myself) those don’t work in this type of situation.
Sometimes we just need to stop. Take a breath. Let ourselves have a break.
We’re all dealing with emotions and situations we’ve never had to deal with before, and it’s hard. The consistency of uncertainty is hard. However, feeling guilty and getting down on yourself for not taking your extra free time to expand your horizons and develop your practice is not going to help. Main reason being, this is not free time, not really. We’re not on vacation right now. We’re in the middle of a crisis that seems like it is only going to get worse, and beating ourselves up for not being “productive” is only going to make us feel worse.
I realize this has been a very long-winded way to say it’s okay to take a break from everything, but I thinks it’s important to drive home the point. Yes, it’s great when we can learn something new and improve ourselves a little, but it’s also great when we can spend some time on our mental health and do something we enjoy or just relax a little.
So, during this time of fear, anger, grief, and stress, give yourself a little more time to relax. Be nice to yourself and tell yourself it’s okay to not be productive. It’s okay to feel off. It’s okay to not do anything but binge watch Netflix all day. Take care of yourself first, and give yourself permission to do nothing at all.