Anyone else been tagged in a post on social media, telling you that you now need to run 5K? Or that you need to enter a virtual 24hour singalong via Zoom? Perhaps you feel an overwhelming sense of guilt as you scroll past another person showing off their 9th banana bread that week with the hashtag #productive? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions, then babe – I’ve got you.
You see, the thing is – ‘busy’ is the new Jane Norman PE bag. The verb has somehow evolved to become the buzzword on any Millennials lips. It seems ‘cool’ to be ‘busy’, as if somehow the fact that you are overwhelmed and on the brink of a breakdown means that you are far more worthy than anyone who dares binge watch an entire Netflix series in a day (did someone say Tiger King?).
It is true that not doing a lot is exhausting. Not being active can weirdly make you more tired (who knew?) and not getting the blood pumping or legs moving can actually force you into an unwilling lethargy cycle. But let’s define the difference between slowing down and stopping. Slowing down doesn’t have to mean not leaving your bed for the entire day. It simply means that you’re allowing all of your being to just ‘be’. Mentally, physically and emotionally, slowing down gives you the opportunity to take a moment. To actually pause. Breathe. It provides us with a moment of calm between the chaos and is actually the best piece of advice I’ve given to myself all year.
I’m done with being available on WhatsApp no matter the hour of the day. Or night. I’m fed up with responding to every Slack notification 30 seconds after it’s been received. And I’m definitely no longer here for having to prove how f*cking fantastic my life is at every available photo op for the gram. I’m drained. If hearing about how disastrous the world is on repeat every hour thanks to the awful News channels isn’t enough to put you into a state of severe anxiety, then working all hours around the clock “because what else is there to do, lol”, having to cook three sodding times a day, host HouseParty’s seven times a week and conjure up the mental capacity (or willingness) for another remote pub quiz, certainly takes the piss.
For those of us with an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which I assume is nearly all of you reading this, life in isolation can feel quite familiar. There’s been many occasions where we have been too sick to leave the house. There have been many days where our immune systems are so suppressed from medication that we have a panic attack when someone coughs/sneezes near us. The difference is that, back then, in yonder year of pre-Covid, the world kept on moving around us. Only now has it seemed to have stopped with us.
Fatigue is all too familiar to those living with autoimmune diseases or chronic conditions. Waking up and feeling tired is basically our daily routine. It was hard enough to push through things when the pressure was but an internal one, let alone how we are now trying to handle battling our overwhelming sense of dread every time we are challenged to partake in another TikTok routine. Just why.
Many of us living with Crohn’s or Colitis at this time will be shielding. Many of us will be in one of the high risk groups. And that’s scary. It’s also pissing annoying when you see people mindlessly still hanging out in groups in the park, but I’ll leave that rant for the Twittersphere. Whilst we have a lot on our plates to deal with (but I mean, let’s be honest, doesn’t everyone) it’s more important than ever to exercise some self-care. By that, I don’t just mean the type that floods our inboxes encouraging us to buy 74 bath bombs in the name of ‘home therapy’ but the type of self-care that does what it says on the tin: allows you the time, space and energy to care for yourself. Because pal, that’s important.
So hear me when I say this: it is okay to slow down. It is okay to not feel the need to be a better/fitter/brainier/sexier version of yourself after lockdown ends. It is okay to not want to feel constantly connected or perversely productive. It is okay to just ‘be’. To just be you. That’s an activity in itself, mate. Sod it, I’ll even go as far to say that inactivity is an activity. If all you can do today is get up and move 3metres to the next room, then good for you. This time isn’t about added pressure, it isn’t about ludicrous expectations and it isn’t about spreadsheet shaming your mates. It’s about staying inside. And it’s literally as simple as that.