‘Take this time to complete as many courses as you can’. ‘Uplift yourself’. ‘Upskill yourself’. ‘Don’t let your body get out of shape’. ‘Exercise!’ ‘Don’t think because you are working from home you can slack off’. ‘Meetings! Meetings! Meetings!’.

I’m sure that anyone who just read that first paragraph can relate at this point in time. The world as we knew it has come to a complete standstill. As humans, we always want to ensure that we are ‘being all we can be’. In a world-wide pandemic this has never been more prevalent. It seems as if our bosses, colleagues, friends, family and, indeed society, have collectively come together to place on us the expectation of exceptional productivity. We are being encouraged to work harder so as not to let the pandemic destroy our work ethic. We are being encouraged to train or exercise harder, or even to start to exercise, so as not to let the pandemic affect our physical health. Harder. Faster. Consistent.

Stop! Where are the questions about and motivation to take care of our mental health? Mental health is, after all, the one thing that enables our productivity and enables our ability to get out of bed to do exercise. Yet, it still appears to be a taboo topic. Why are we so afraid to say ‘I’m sad’? Why are we so afraid to say ‘this situation has really made me question my choices’? Why are we so afraid to say ‘no, I can’t take on anymore work as I’m overloaded already’? We are afraid because even in this day and age we are taught to prioritize everything over our mental health. Physical health, productivity, likeability, ego; all these things are what we as a society are taught to value. What we need to realize is that we also need to give priority to ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy”, otherwise known as well-being. Specifically, we need to give priority to our mental well-being.

The point of this article is not to discount all the wonderful things that we can do and achieve during these times of social distancing, masks, gloves and working from home. The point is to point out how important it is to take time for yourself. The point is to ask you to give yourself permission to get out of bed later than usual for once, or twice. The point is to ask you to be good to yourself and not criticize yourself for needing time to regroup and think about where you are in life. The pandemic has brought out a reaction in all of us. Of course there are as many different reactions as there are people on the planet. This is ok. This is reality.

If you need time; take it. If you need help for your mental health; ask for it. If you need to just ‘be’ for the day; claim it. You as a whole are valued. Not just your brain capacity, not just your physical being, but YOU as a whole. Don’t let this pandemic or anyone make you forget that.

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