Netizens hailed Taylor Swift as the Queen of Pandemic Productivity, and for good reasons, too. While we were busy making dalgona coffees and dyeing our hairs, the American singer-songwriter dropped two albums out of nowhere in the first 9 months of the pandemic. In a world wholly stripped of normalcy, she managed to write 32 songs, while most of us are just trying not to lose it completely.
However, that’s okay. We all cope differently. If you’re a college student like me, our lives have been drastically reduced to attending online classes in pajamas. We are also dealing with different challenges – the loss of a loved one, quarantine fatigue, our mental health, the yearning normalcy. Taylor Swift must be too. It just so happens Taylor Swift’s coping mechanism is pursuing and working on creative projects.
Does that mean that we can also produce 36 songs? Maybe. But is it expected from us? Absolutely not. While what Taylor achieved is incredible and admirable, it is not the only way we can manage our stress and anxiety. Being productive, though perceived as ideal, is not the right way of dealing with the pandemic. Nor the only way.
Coping by “doing” is a typical propensity among the younger generations. After all, social media glamorizes overworking. “Girl bosses” with three jobs are cool. Corporate workers with mauve bags under their eyes are sexy. Except these are faces of overworking and it is generally unhealthy.
Overworking does more harm than good
Not getting enough sleep, exercise, and a proper diet can damage your body. When you put all of your energy into working and being productive, you may fall behind on the other aspects of your life that are just as important.
Overworking as a coping mechanism can be self-destructive, and it will only make things worse. The strain in long hours on a screen can also negatively affect the quality of your work.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic. There’s no better time to hit pause and rest.
In a pandemic, we have little to no control over many things, and this fact can be stressful. So we think that by being productive, we are actively not giving in to helplessness.
But productivity doesn’t always mean checking things off a checklist, sending a hundred emails a day, or having a hundred tabs open at once. No. Psychology Today defined productivity as something that often emerges naturally from work that one finds inherently meaningful or valuable. Surely, there is something more meaningful in your life that is not work-related?
Productivity has other faces, too, you know. And Taylor Swift has her own. Maybe you can also have yours. Check out some of them:
1. Practice your craft
This is what Taylor Swift and other artists did in this pandemic. They picked up their craft and just got lost in it.
Many people go about their lives, discover they’re good at singing or writing or cooking, and do it casually. I’m familiar with the excuses: you don’t have the time, there’s this thing at work, and, uh, you have “better things to do.” Staying at home means no commutes and no traffic. Chances are, there’s some time to spare under the new normal.
After getting over the sad news that she wouldn’t have concerts and shows anytime soon, Taylor Swift (probably) sat on her piano and played. You could pick up your craft too.
According to studies, creating art, in whatever form, helps battle anxiety or depression. Practice your craft, get lost in it, and create something beautiful. Creating something not beautiful is okay too. The fun thing about art is that it’s all about the process.
2. Catch up on your favorite TV series or read that book you keep putting off
Taylor Swift revealed that “movie nights” with her boyfriend Joe Alwyn played a significant role in creating the critically-acclaimed album folklore. Consuming other art helped her unlock a portal, she said in an interview.
But no, Taylor Swift’s motivations for watching movies were not to create an album. That would’ve taken all the fun out of it. She watched movies because she was stuck at home indefinitely, and there’s a lot of movies in the catalog. So maybe you could also watch movies because you’re stuck at home indefinitely, and there’s a lot of movies in the catalog.
You can also pick up a book. Stimulate your brain, and dive into a fantasy world where the world is not plagued with a pandemic and people are not stuck in their houses.
We might not get an album out of it, but hey, relaxing is productive.
3. Work on your physical and mental health
It’s crazy times. The pandemic unsealed a pandora’s box of social, political, and economic evils.
It’s enough to drive one crazy.
Therefore, it is essential to give our physical and mental health more attention. It could mean picking up new healthy habits like exercising or meditating and dropping some bad ones like sleeping late and eating junk food. Or who knows? Maybe working on your physical and mental health could start at taking a break from your work.
Initiate virtual hangout nights with your friends. Journal your thoughts. Maybe look into adopting new plants or pets.
Battling COVID-19 makes us vulnerable to anxiety, depression, loneliness, stress, fear, and other mental dangers. We don’t have to fight it alone.
Choosing to be better – physically and mentally – is productive.
‘I had a feeling so peculiar, this pandemic wouldn’t be for evermore‘
The pandemic, too, shall pass. When this is all behind us, more songs and poems, and books will be written about it – stories of love, loss, and survival. But right now, all you have to do is cope in ways that you can. – Rappler.com
Kim Czaccei Dacanay is a Digital Communications volunteer at Rappler. She is a History major from the University of Santo Tomas, and works as a freelance writer.