Why Cleaning, Household Chores and Home Projects are Not Enough During COVID-19
It has been well over a month since COVID-19 first forced us to remain at home. As a counselor, I have seen growing patterns in people’s behavior that have led me to one clear conclusion; cleaning, projects, and other household chores just don’t cut it when it comes to trying to stay busy, productive, and stimulated. I think many of us went into this thinking; let’s make the most of this and read a book or two, paint that spare bedroom, or dust off that guitar that has been sitting in the corner for three years. My guess is by now, you have either given up on those ideas or have gotten completely frustrated by them. It’s not as fun or rewarding as you expected, and now you feel guilty for not being productive, focused, or even motivated to move at times. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay and completely normal.
Why is this happening, and why would I say this is normal? Well, it’s because we lack one crucial element; balance. I’m talking about a particular type of balance. It’s the balance that comes from being able to interact with others physically; From small interactions like saying hi to the person behind the counter of your favorite coffee shop to meeting your friends for happy hour on Friday night. The ability to “play” with others is temporarily on hold. No outside entertainment, no yoga, no spin class, no in-person educational opportunities, no handshakes, hugs, or pecks on the cheek. All taken away for our safety and the safety of others.
We are social beings. Even the most introverted homebody has places to go and people that he or she interacts with daily. When that social connection is broken, then the tasks we line up for ourselves become filler, a placeholder for something better that should be going on.
So the natural question is; What do I do to overcome this feeling? You can start by not beating yourself up. If there is one thing we all need right now, it would be high doses of self-compassion. Permit yourself to walk away from a half-completed project. Don’t make any more lists of things that HAVE to be completed. Instead, put your hand on your heart, breathe deeply, and tell yourself that you’re doing the best that you can do under the most unusual and unnatural circumstances. Give up the notion of having to be a super parent, handyman, Spanish speaking, three books, a week-type person. You probably weren’t those things before, so why now? Just because we have time? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way for most of us most, especially when there are such large amounts of uncertainty, stress, fear, and few answers.
Find ways to stay connected to others. Continue to Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype. Have a parking lot date with a friend (both from the safety of your cars), call your neighbor and see if they want to chat from your respective porches and, if possible, see where you can give back and help others. Self-Compassion and compassion for others are far more important and far more rewarding than organizing every closet of your house.