Health Advocate Blog

Feeling pressured to achieve during the pandemic?

The coronavirus pandemic is stressful for many people for many different reasons. People are worried about the health of themselves and their loved ones, issues like job security, and are feeling isolated due to physically distancing from others and staying home more than usual. And in addition to these stressors, a new one has recently emerged: the pressure to do more.

While right now some people may have the time and ability to learn a new skill or language, take an online course or read a lot of books, or make photo-worthy crafts or fancy meals, not everyone does—and that’s okay. While some people may in fact have more free time during the pandemic, others may have less—they’re working while caring for and educating their children, they’re caregiving for older loved ones, they’re working extra hours as essential workers, or they’re coping with the stress of being furloughed, losing their job, and/or trying to find new employment. These and many other challenges take up significant time and head-space.

You may be feeling pressured or stressed because everyone else seems to be accomplishing more than you are right now. If that sounds like you, keep reading for tips that can help you feel more confident about your own abilities and doing what you can during this unprecedented time.

  • Remember that everyone has different needs, commitments, and abilities. Some people may be able to do more during this challenging time, and others may not be able to do as much. Either way, that’s okay! Everyone is different, and everyone has a different situation. If you know someone who seems to be able to do more than you, don’t pressure yourself to be at their level if you’re not up to it.
  • Be realistic and focus on doing what you can. If you try to do too much, you likely won’t meet your goals and will feel disappointed, overwhelmed, and/or critical of yourself. Instead, think realistically about what you can accomplish, and aim to do that.  
  • Do something that helps you de-stress. Instead of focusing on what you can achieve, do something that helps you stress less. Consider coloring, drawing, reading, playing with your pet, going for a walk, meditating, yoga, or even taking a nap.
  • Aim for a smaller goal instead of a larger goal. This could help you still achieve something without feeling so overwhelmed. Instead of starting a new diet, aim to eat an extra serving of fruit or veggies each day, or cook a new, healthy recipe each week. Instead of starting a vigorous new exercise routine when you’ve previously been sedentary, start with doing a 30-minute walk a few days a week.
  • Make a plan to learn something new—and take action on it later. For example, if you want to learn a new skill or language, if you see a deal on an online course to help you learn, buy it now, but don’t pressure yourself to do the course until things are less stressful. Most online courses don’t come with a timetable, meaning that you can start them whenever you’d like and take as much time as you need to finish them.
  • Make a purchase—and take action on that later, too. Are you itching to get out of the house, but want to stay safe? Find deals on tickets for local outings like the zoo or theatre, buy them now, and save them to use later when things have calmed down and it’s safer to do these activities. Plus, doing this will give you something to look forward to, which can also lift your spirits!
  • Limit your time on social media. If you’re frequently scrolling through social media, it’s easy to see what everyone else is up to and feel lacking in comparison. Consider scaling back your social media time—aim to only check it a certain number of times per day, for only a small amount of time each time. This can help you stay connected without feeling so overwhelmed. And remember, people usually only post the good stuff to social media—many people are just as stressed as you, but you don’t see that because they only show photos of their smiling faces, latest Instagram-worthy meal, or Pinterest-worthy craft. You don’t see the pics of the three times they messed up that craft or recipe, or the moments where they’re sitting on the couch with their head in their hands because they feel completely stressed out.
  • Have a mantra. If you start feeling anxious that you aren’t “doing enough,” have a mantra that you repeat out loud or in your head. This can help ground you and push away the negative thoughts. Consider phrases like “I am doing the best I can,” “I am enough,” or “It’s okay to go at my own pace.”

Remember that you truly are enough just as you are. If you are having ongoing difficulties managing stress or overwhelm, contact a Licensed Counselor for help.