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On Pandemics and Productivity

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures for more info. 


I can't believe we are already halfway through June, and I've only made one substantive post and two announcements here in 2020, so
 last week I sent my mailing list a message explaining my absence these past few months.

While I may not have any kind of viral following, the following I do have is steady, and people noticed I wasn't writing. Some asked me why. I gave them the basic answer but didn't really get into any negative things, because I'm not much of a complainer, and other people were going through so much more than I was — I didn't want to pile on.

I've been wanting to write here, but just...couldn't. And now I feel like I can again, but it seems weird to just resume writing without acknowledging that something happened. So let's get into the WHY of my absence. 

Between a deadly pandemic, natural disasters, racial injustice, and societal tensions, I wasn't coping too well. I got completely overwhelmed, actually. 

I'm a worrier by nature, and while I've worked very hard to turn that around and have had great success with that over the years, this particular set of events these last few months challenged me in new ways. My mindset DEFINITELY took a hit.

I mean, it hasn't been ALL bad. At the start of the year, I started a new dream job, where I was hired by a client to be a full-time editor. I still freelance evenings and weekends, too. And since the last time you've heard from me, I had the opportunity to perform Carmina Burana at Carnegie Music Hall with the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale just before COVID-19 hit its stride.

But then everything shut down, and so did I. I felt like a failure, not being able to write, but the words simply wouldn't come. I focused on sharing uplifting content on the Facebook page, and otherwise let this site slide. 

Maybe it was different for other people, but for me, apparently a pandemic isn't a good time to be creative. 

So then for some reason, thinking the pandemic would somehow give me more time to focus on "getting things done" (influenced, I'm sure, by the gazillions of articles and posts I saw where people were taking on pandemic projects) I decided I could at least be "productive" for positively b.e.e. by revamping the website. 

...which I didn't actually do, because I'm not exactly good (or patient) with tech stuff like building websites. I was struggling with design components and tech limitations and a lack of knowledge, and I simply stopped trying. 

Apparently a pandemic may not be a great time to be extra productive, either.
Let's be clear: I was managing basic productivity in terms of getting my regular work done. I'm a hard worker and able to compartmentalize in order to meet deadlines. But I'd work all day, do some freelance work at night or on weekends, and then...fizzle out. There really wasn't enough gas left in the tank for anything else. Add to that the fact that compartmentalization only works so well...once you start not living your true feelings, there can be side effects.

I constantly felt worried, stressed out, exhausted, and like I didn't have anything left in me after each work day ended. I was not sleeping right—well, let's be fair, I'm not much of a sleeper, anyway—but it was ten times worse than usual. I'd wake up in the middle of the night and worry incessantly about things. 

And I know I wasn't alone in this, because I saw it on my social media feeds. People were being stretched really thin emotionally, and it showed.

My meditation practice went down the drain, I had trouble concentrating, I had literally no desire to write, and the only comfort I found was to bury myself in working on an intricate blanket pattern that I'd bought on Ravelry. (A blanket I started nearly a year ago and only just finished, I might add.)

I have a lot of half-started projects around the house, too, which I would give a go but then just stop. I couldn't really get anything to stick.  It was basically a sense of listlessness. In between articles and posts about how productive or creative some people were being were just as many posts about how other people were having issues getting anything done. 

Did any of you experience the same? How did you cope?

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I subscribed to the Calm app. (THANK YOU to my credit card company, who offered a full year's membership FOR FREE!) If nothing else, it gave some structure to my day that didn't involve work or "getting things done." 

Doing the "Daily Calm" session is ten minutes a day where I can disconnect from all of those negative feelings and reconnect with something resembling peace. I also started listening to their sleep meditations and stories, which helped me whenever I'd wake up in the middle of the night and start ruminating unhealthily. 

Apparently a pandemic IS a good time to change up your meditation practice? 



After a few weeks of the new meditation routine, it seems to have done some good.

The theme of one of the meditations from last week was all about acceptance. After that session, I felt the best I had in a LONG time, and it's because some things synced into place for me. I realized AND accepted: 

☆ I can only do what I can do. 
☆ Pandemics aren't great times to "get things done."
☆ It's okay to slow down a little and take stock.
☆ It's okay not to be creative or productive during times of great distress.
☆ It's okay to take any time that I need for my well-being and mental health. 

And finally:

☆ I am definitely no web master! 😂 

So there it is. I went offline for a bit and accomplished, well, not much at all....and I accept that! I instantly forgave myself for not writing, not creating, and not revamping the website.

It was so freeing! And with that freedom came the first spark of creativity I'd felt in a long time. 

As I said to my subscribers, the time of being "shut down" is coming to an end, both literally and figuratively. As things begin to reopen in the world, I feel my spirit reopening, too. I feel I can write again.

Look, I don't write all this to make a spectacle. This isn't about "poor Beth" or anything. I'm not looking for any sympathy, and I have a TON to be grateful for.  

What this IS about is you

That's right. 

I want you to know that it's okay if you weren't super productive or creative during these uncertain times. I wanted to share my story—REAL TALK, not just the highlights—to let you know that you aren't alone if you had any of these feelings or difficulties over these last several months. 

While the focus of this blog is on positivity—getting the most out of life through gratitude, joy, fun, and other such things—you can't really appreciate or learn the positivity without looking the negative stuff dead in the eye. 

I'm often commended for my positive attitude, but at the end of the day, I'm just like anyone else: I have bad days, weeks, or months. I go through really rough times emotionally sometimes, especially in extraordinary circumstances. We all do —and that's normal. 

There are ways to get out of any of these negative moods again, eventually. That's why I started this blog all those years ago: to focus on ways to disrupt that negativity. I may be good at resilience, recovery, and regaining a positive outlook after taking a few hits in life, but that's only because I've had lots of practice at it. It takes time to heal.

There are resources to get help, healthy ways to find comfort or peace, and most of all, it's important to forgive yourself if you feel you've failed at something during this really extraordinary time in our world.

So with that, I'd like to hear from you and find out how you've been coping and if you have any advice for me and other readers. Please drop a comment below!

In the meantime, consider some of the below ideas if you're feeling rough around the edges: 
  • The Calm app. It's been amazing for regaining my inner peace. There are other apps out there, too, if Calm isn't the right fit for you, or maybe you want to try Tranquil Fern's mediation series.
  • Jonathan Kirkendall's 30-second(ish) Therapy (he has a particularly good meditation about uncertain times). Jon's posts always brighten my day!
  • positively b.e.e.'s Facebook page, which has content in between blog posts to help you stay upbeat 
  • Turn off the news. Seriously. It's on 24/7, it's everywhere, it's negative, and it's never-ending. Find a rhythm with the news cycle that doesn't trigger you into negative emotions.
  • Limit your time on social media. Mute the really negative people if you have to for a few days. Give yourself a break. I took the apps off my phone and that created some space for me to consciously participate instead of endlessly scrolling bad news, online fighting, and the other ridiculously negative stuff we see on a daily basis
  • Try to get some exercise if you can, since it will help with relaxation and releasing endorphins, which help you feel better emotionally. If you aren't comfortable going back to the gym yet when they reopen, there are a ton of free exercise videos on YouTube and other venues. The world is your exercise oyster—you only need to avail yourself of it. Here are some resources that I've used: 
And finally, if you need it, consider talking to a professional counselor. I found a list of sites that may be able to help, and/or your employer or health insurance may offer either an Employee Assistance Program or other access to mental health care. If you are unemployed or underemployed due to the pandemic, some providers may accept a sliding scale based on what you can afford. 

I know these have been a difficult few months in particular, and we've all been through the wringer a bit. In reading this, I hope you:
  • don't feel alone if you were
  • know that these feelings are normal if you're having them 
  • find peace in uncertain times 
  • forgive yourself if feel like you haven't weathered current events as well as you'd like, and
  • find resources that may help

I feel like I'm starting to get my groove back, and I hope this post helps you find yours, too. Until next month, be well! Take care of yourselves, okay? 💛🐝


 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Comments

  1. There are some things I'm opening up to - the idea of growth, the practice of growth - even when it makes me uncomfortable, letting go of the old stories of "can't," and opening up to the new stories of, "well, let's give this a shot."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are things I've explored, too, and it's all good stuff! Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!

      Delete

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