For roughly the past 15 years, we have ramped up our efforts and expectations for functioning to unsustainable levels. The results have been greater stress and anxiety, less sleep and oh so many “have tos”. To be honest it would be nice as a therapist to be less busy treating teens and adults enduring painful symptoms just to keep up! Past efforts to mitigate our culture of hyperfunctioning have included books like The Overachievers, The Price of Privilege, How to Raise an Adult, and documentary films like The Race to Nowhere and Angst. Still the message to slow down, allow for struggle and therefore distress, pace ourselves without using external comparisons to drive us, and just be, has not broadly resonated.
As we of course think of those who are sick and those who have lost loved ones, jobs, and even personal freedoms, let us also allow this moment in time to help us evolve. Let’s take this opportunity to re-evaluate how we may achieve greater balance and perspective in our lives. It is not sustainable to function at the uber pace we have been. Focus on grades, AP classes, college admissions testing and resumes for 15 year-olds, is making us and our teens sick and feeding hurtful conflicts.
The truth is, maybe for the first time ever, there is time to slow down, hear your own thoughts, notice your own emotions (positive and negative), interact more genuinely with family, connect with friends and do more “want tos”. We are not hustling from activity to activity, cramming in hours of homework and spending hours commuting to and from work. (For those who are busier like our health care and other needed workers, we will take care of you when current needs abate).
For the rest of us at home with more time on our hands, try to allow and even accept a state of hypOfunctioning. Deliberately. Think for a moment about how you feel when you have down time? If this feels totally foreign to you, it may be unsettling, elicit judgments, and take some adapting. Most of us are used to being in hyperfunctioning mode much of the time. We may even notice feeling anxious with “nothing to do” or seeing our teens sleeping in, playing more, working less. WHAT WILL BECOME OF THEM??!!
Try the following:
Accept what is…hear yourself breathe
Get more sleep
Make healthy meals
Enjoy… movement, nature, pastimes, movies, tv, books, relaxing
Be basic. It’s ok. It may even help us achieve a greater state of balance once schedules and demands return post Covid-19. Let’s hope.