Coping with the guilt of “losing time” during COVID-19

Key points

  • Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily life and added pressure to people’s lives, making achieving big goals no longer a priority.
  • Anxiety and depression cases increase as energy and burnout decrease.
  • Techniques such as acknowledging less obvious achievements and not comparing with others can help alleviate the feeling of “wasting time.”

Within three weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic, the following iterations began to appear: “Remember, William Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” during the quarantine period.”

In the early days of the blockade, this idea was almost admirable, but still annoying. The completely pathological reality of the pandemic has not yet been fully realized, and it is generally believed that you can spend a few weeks at home productively and then return to work before the end of the month.

More than a year has passed, and we all know that this is far from the case. Instead, sadness and burnout become the norm, and just surviving can be considered an extraordinary feat.

However, as the dim light at the end of this terrible tunnel becomes slightly brighter in some countries, you may feel that just passing through it is not enough. There is a general idea that you should show something in the past year or so, instead of becoming like “lost time”.

Thinking back to life after March 2020 may cause this concern, but since then, it has undoubtedly existed in some iterations. Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said: “As soon as a pandemic occurs, a competition about who is the most productive, active, and efficient it has started.”

Romanov said: “People have implanted the idea that the time saved from non-existent commuting, happy hours and parties must be replaced by external signs of productivity.”

Amy Durhams, PhD in Psychology

If you are reading a book, it would be very strange if the character focuses on getting promoted during the zombie apocalypse. No one took a laptop to write a book in The Hunger Games. They allow their priorities to change when necessary.

— Aimee Daramus, PhD in Psychology

For many people, this so-called extra time has never been realized. Instead, burnout, pain, and enough motivation to do what is necessary, if that is the case. As Romanov explained, “During the global pandemic, replacing most of the activities before the pandemic with learning new languages ​​or crafts is inconsistent with the increasing pressure people are under during this time.”

The importance of downtime during a pandemic

Even if you find the energy to start working towards a big goal, if it leaves you no time to recover and relax, it may have a negative impact on your happiness. “For individuals, rest is necessary in order to relieve anxiety and lead a healthier and happier life,” said Leela R. Magavi, MD, psychiatrist and regional medical director of Community Psychiatry, California’s largest outpatient mental health organization. .

With the surge in mental health issues during the pandemic, making time for yourself becomes even more important. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that 42% of American adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in December 2020, compared with 11% from January to June 2019.

The continuing nature of the pandemic stressor further justifies the need for downtime. “Your body and mind cannot always be in a state of emergency without permanent consequences for your health,” said Aimee Daramus, the author of PsyD. He is Understanding bipolar disorder“When you let yourself rest and feel good, you are also protecting your body and mind.”

How to deal with the guilt of “losing time”

Even if you have accepted the fact that a pandemic is not an open call for productivity, the idea of ​​wasting time in continued despair may be difficult to accept. Exploring this feeling-yes, recovering during your rest time-can help you better understand yourself and the power you are displaying.

Avoid comparison

Yes, what some people might achieve now is still your goal. This does not mean that you did something wrong or that you should pursue these goals more actively. No one is immune from the effects of the pandemic, but everyone has not felt the same impact—or behaved so transparently about their struggle.

“Comparison really steals happiness. When you use unrealistic portrayals of other people’s lives as a reference point—whether it’s social media or a friend’s experience—you miss all the hidden and obvious challenges, struggles, and differences, these factors It adds color to everyone’s world,” Romanov said.

Give yourself understanding

Honestly reflecting on your decisions and experiences in the past year may make you more slack. “If you’re reading a book, it would be very strange if the character was focused on getting promoted during the zombie apocalypse. No one in The Hunger Games brought a laptop to write a book,” said Durhams.

Durhams said: “They allow changing priorities when necessary.” Your time and energy are not focused on traditional large-scale projects, but instead turned to more pressing issues.

Magavi says that pandemic-related anxiety affects your brain’s ability to process and remember things.In a study published in 2019 Frontiers of Psychology, The researchers found that in adults without depression, there is a negative correlation between anxiety and working memory.

Acknowledge your achievements

Not writing a great American novel or taking a long-awaited trip does not mean nothing is done. In addition, in dealing with the pandemic, you have essentially achieved some accomplishments. “You need to remember new precautions and some basic science to learn to understand the situation,” Durhams said.

“You may have been dealing with anxiety, depression, loneliness or sadness in unprecedented ways. You may have to redesign your work, relationships, and exercise methods,” said Durhams. “You may have to learn some new skills around the house you are accustomed to helping. If you look back, you may be doing much more than you think.”

An obvious example comes from parents who use their meager energy to help their children take virtual lessons or spend extra time entertaining them. Daramus recommends listing all the challenges you have overcome and the new things you have learned. Praise yourself for this incredible achievement.

Leela Magavi, MD

Rest time is necessary for individuals to relieve anxiety and lead a healthier and happier life.

— Lila Magawi, MD

Look to the future

The lost time is irreversible, but after surviving the pandemic, you will have a future full of possibilities. We are not fully into the late stages, but it is close enough to start thinking about what you want it to look like. Romanov recommends determining what your goals are and how you can achieve them.

What this means to you

There has been no normal phenomenon for more than a year. Acknowledging your usual work style and the accomplishments required to pursue change is crucial. In the face of all this, you have been moving forward-this in itself is an undeniable achievement.

Get advice from the VigorTip Mind podcast

This episode of The VigorTip Mind Podcast, hosted by LCSW’s editor-in-chief and therapist Amy Morin, shares how to build spiritual power after the pandemic.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may receive updated information while reading this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, please visit our Coronavirus News page.