Dealing With Performance Anxiety During The Pandemic

13 Jul 2020

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Fear, anxiety, and stress have become almost synonymous with the on-going pandemic. However, there’s one more emotion added to the list, which can be potentially toxic – Fear Of Missing Out or FOMO.

How is FOMO relevant when we are confined to our homes? Let us explain. Social media, peers and even celebrities offer an onslaught of advice for “making the most” of the alleged “extra time”. Well, there are people who excel at being super productive even during such stressful times. Kudos to them! But if you find yourself confused and indecisive, thinking and cursing yourself for “wasting your time” and if you just want to curl up in a ball and cry, you’re not alone. 

If you think you’re experiencing ‘performance pressure’ or suffering from the new FOMO, we have a few tips for you, but before that, here are a few things that you should know. 

Pandemic & Productivity

Humanity, as a whole, is going through a collective trauma. Mental health issues are spiking [1] as people continue to deal with death, unemployment and high medical expenses. Everybody is managing in their own way and at their own pace. Hence, the level of productivity is subjective and constantly changing as the quarantine periods get extended. Additionally, the ‘pressure to perform’ isn’t mandatory. While free-time could be an opportunity, you have a choice to make your version of ‘best’ in it. 

Remember, the internet wants you to believe that you are not making enough of the “extra time” that you have if you’re not doing something that’s trending. However, in reality, attending to your basic needs, and allowing yourself to rest is plenty. 

Respect the range of coping styles, and view the behavior of people as their way of managing things [2], this way you can feel less judgmental of yourself and others.

The Benefits of ‘Doing Nothing’ 

If doing nothing is an option for you, do not push it under the rug or feel guilty about it, just grab it; it can be a boon!

The ‘doing nothing’ concept can be beneficial for you right now and in the long run. There are many science-backed benefits to it. First, it gives your brain the rest that it needs, second – it will help you be more productive and efficient in the future. As you don’t grind through, push yourself too hard or burn yourself out in these hard times, you’ll have all the energy along with the right state of mind preserved for the time when you absolutely need them [3]. Plus, this can also help you think of creative ideas and ways to look at the same issue with a fresh mindset.

Here are a few ways you can accept and work with it:

Limit your social media intake: Social media apps can add fuel to the burning FOMO fire, and now that we’re spending endless hours scrolling through them, things can get worse. Social media can make you feel envious of others’ lives and unsatisfied with your own. Therefore, it’s important to control how much time you spend on it. Try setting a time limit for it, avoid using during work or while doing home chores and if needed keep your phone in another room while sleeping, so you can get quality sleep, away from screens [4]. Your eyes will thank you for this, too!

Repeat after us, “social media is airbrushed”: We know it! You know it! Everybody knows it! Things posted on social media are not always what they seem. Nobody really posts the whole truth. People only share their best selfies, or the most exciting adventure they’ve been on, or how they spent an amazing day with their bffs. Nobody shows their flaws, so remember, no matter how perfectly amazing a person’s life may seem online, it isn’t entirely true. So stop comparing yourself, and see beyond it [4]. 

Practice gratitude: Be more grateful for the things you have, as gratitude can help combat anxious and envious feelings. Simply writing down a few things that you are grateful for every day (either at the start of your day, or at night before going to bed)  can help you feel more satisfied with your life. Cultivating such a positive attitude has shown to improve positive feelings, and help people lead a happier life [4].

Things You Can Do To Fight The FOMO

While ‘doing nothing’ is great, here are a few constructive activities that don’t put pressure on your mind, yet keep you occupied.

Read more: This is the best time to catch up with your reading – it will keep you entertained and occupied for hours. You can even include your family and start a bookclub (of sorts), this way you’ll be able to spend more time with them and bond with them. 

Fix or clean things: Everybody has something in their house that needs to be fixed or cleaned (we’re looking at you, the chair with dirty laundry!). It could be some broken furniture, some electronics that need rewiring, or maybe your wardrobe needs some rearranging. This is the best time to get started with them. A tip, start with smaller things so that you get a sense of satisfaction and don’t feel too overwhelmed.

Enjoy some time with your pet: If you are someone who’s lucky to have a pet, you’re probably having a fun time with them right now! However, if you and your pet both are getting bored with the monotonous routine, spice things up a bit. Cute-up your pet with some accessories or make some fun costumes for them, you can even turn this into a competition where your family members compete against each other. Imagine the fun!   

Be creative: The quarantine offers you the headspace to do the things that you want to do or have been waiting to try but never had the time. Be creative with your choices. Explore and research to find out the best activity [5]. Start with an easy activity and don’t feel guilty if you can’t finish it. Give yourself the chance to take it easy.

Give importance to your well being: Remember, being productive isn’t always about getting things done or doing things. Sometimes, it’s also about being healthy and relaxing. Give your mind and body the rest they deserve, now that you have the time.

Remember, there’s going to be plenty of time and opportunities to work, be productive, and do things. Don’t push yourself too hard right now. Consider this as a moment to slow down and honor your emotional and mental needs. By doing so, you will be able to unlock the space necessary to reach the level of productivity you desire. Right now, just try and go easy on yourself.

References:

  1. https://www.healthcareradius.in/clinical/25659-20-25-rise-in-the-number-of-patients-with-depression-and-ocd-since-covid-19-outbreak
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2992750/
  3. https://www.wrvo.org/post/latest-health-what-doing-nothing-can-do-you
  4. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/overcoming-fomo-what-fuels-your-fear-of-missing-out-0418167
  5. https://www.amcgroup.edu.in/blog/how-to-stay-productive-during-covid-19-lockdown/

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