As the current COVID-19 pandemic continues to progress, daily life has shifted for all Americans and likely for most of the world. Students are taking their classes online, all non-essential businesses are closed and almost 9 million Americans are unemployed. It seems that life as we knew it has temporarily come to a halt. 

The pandemic was an unexpected shock, and everyone is adjusting to the “new normal” in different ways. Social media influencers are posting their at-home workouts, some are learning new languages and some are seemingly being more productive than ever. It’s easy to feel guilty or feel like you’re wasting time if you aren’t being super productive right now.

Here’s a few reminders of why it’s OK to let yourself relax:

Time spent at home does not equal free time

Although many people are not physically going into work or school, a lot of people are still working full-time from home. Adjusting to online work or schooling takes time and can be a challenge in itself. Some parents are now having to help homeschool their kids and work full-time in addition to maintaining daily household chores.  

Our homes have turned into work spaces, and because of that, it’s now easy to feel guilty if you’re at home and not constantly working on something. Instead of feeling bad about yourself, try dedicating certain times of the day to relax, guilt-free. 

Different people thrive in different environments 

Some people do extremely well under pressure, and others do not. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t thrive in a stressful environment, then it’s likely that this period of isolation has been tough on you. If that’s the case, then know that it’s OK to be overwhelmed, sad, stressed or whatever emotion you’re feeling. This pandemic is something none of us have ever experienced before. 

Remember some people busy themselves as a way to distract from the emotions they’re feeling. If you find yourself measuring your self-worth by how productive you’re being, it’s time to step back and reevaluate. 

Our sense of normalcy is gone

Many people find comfort in having a daily routine and stick to it. Without the sense of structure, days can run together and feel like they’re being wasted. Everyone has lost their sense of normalcy, and losing it can be tough on those who find comfort in routine. 

If you’re one of those people, it might be worth taking the extra time to create a new daily routine for yourself. Embrace the discomfort that comes along with losing the normal structure of days. It’s OK that your typical day doesn’t look the same as it did two months ago. 

Be compassionate with yourself; let yourself rest if you need it

If you are feeling inspired, have more free time and are getting more things checked off your to-do list, then that’s great. Productivity is important, but being honest with yourself is more important. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to rest as much as you need. 

Almost everyone has experienced some sort of loss — a canceled trip, a school year cut short, a job no longer deemed necessary. This pandemic has caused a form of grief that some will experience more than others. There are no rules for however you choose to spend your time, and the most important thing is just to do what's best for you.