You Don’t Have to Make the Most of Being Quarantined

You don’t have to “make the most” of being quarantined or sheltering in place. In fact, the expectation that you should be making the most of this time can make an already difficult time unbearable. Yes, your calendar is finally filled with white space, but not by choice. You may have much more time with your kids, but you’re not on vacation in a relaxed mindset. This is not a vacation. This is the biggest global stressor we’ve experienced in our lifetime.

I’ve just finished another day of meeting with my counseling clients via Zoom, and the message I’ve given repeatedly is “lower your expectations.” Dramatically lower your expectations. For yourself and everyone else. Why? Because no one is completely emotionally and physically well and operating at full capacity in the midst of a global pandemic. All the changes and uncertainties keep anxiety running in the back of our minds, like a sneaky computer virus draining off our brain and body’s operating capacity.

You are not the best version of yourself right now. There’s no way you could be.

It’s not that you are terrible at relationships and the world’s worst parent and homeschooler. You haven’t suddenly developed ADHD at work or school. You may have met the worst version of yourself over the last few weeks and may be beating yourself up for not handling all of this better, for not rising to the occasion with ease, for not—God forbid—making the most of sheltering in place.

Please show yourself some grace. Be gentle with yourself. Chances are, the last month has felt like that awful nightmare where you dream that you have to take a final exam for a class you didn’t even know you signed up for.

You didn’t know you would be taking an exam on how to handle COVID-19, social distancing, working from home, home-schooling, job loss, economic shutdown, and a bizarre toilet paper shortage all at the same time. So, it’s understandable if you have been unprepared, unfocused, unproductive, and perhaps downright unpleasant at times. Maybe most of the time.

If you’ll lower your expectations to match reality instead of applying pressure to make the most of this time for yourself, your family, or your organization, you’ll cope better. You’ll sleep better and laugh more easily. The urge to sigh at or possibly smother the people you live with will be greatly reduced.

You don’t have to make the most of this time.

What unrealistic expectation could you let go of? 

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