Dear Millennials, It Is Time to Take a Break

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By Sama Al Taie 

While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions to stay indoors, many feel the daunting pressure to overwork themselves. Social media platforms are flooded with home workout challenges, cooking recipes, and TikTok videos, calling individuals to be productive. This is adding one more layer of burden onto the person who is ‘doing nothing’ during this quarantine. 

Welcome to the phenomenon of hustle culture, where we, millennials, are burning out our energy to feel successful. We are continually obsessing over what to cross out from our to-do lists, almost forgetting that we sometimes need a break. The constant urge to overachieve and overwork, even during a global pandemic, is setting us up for the pitfalls of mental and physical over-exhaustion. Living in the age of capitalism, we are coded into believing that free time is a luxury too opulent to exist. It has taught us that we must always be productive as if we were robots.

Although this pandemic has put our lives on pause, perhaps it is here to grant us the biggest jackpot that one could ever win: time. We are expected to be more productive than we were before the pandemic. But why can’t we work just as hard and enjoy the extra time available? Free our minds, relax and wait for the next load of work that is coming soon after we’re released from our homes. Spending your day on your warm bed and binge-watching your favorite show is suddenly becoming a moral crime in the age of the coronavirus.

Hyper-productivity posts on social media platforms are constantly shaming people who are trying to adjust to a new lifestyle. This unpredictable change is already overwhelming and will perhaps reshape how we view our lifestyles forever. We are trying to adapt to unfamiliar circumstances and take each day like a pill, one at a time. Elizabeth Yuko, a professor in bioethics, says this pandemic is causing unusual psychological stress due to the sudden lifestyle changes. Such stresses could result in overworking, eventually leading one to burnout. 

This is because we, supposedly, now have more time to be productive than ever before. While in reality, the stigmatizing wave of production that we are exposed to is only going to hinder our abilities. 

With the overwhelming number of posts on social media concerning productivity, it is forcing us to compare ourselves to those who are being productive. This comparison may lead one to look down upon themselves, their skills, and their abilities. 

While many productive millennials tag their friends to do 100 pushup challenges, we scroll down our screens, trying to find the motivation to get through another day. It is not the right time to drown ourselves in work. Instead, it is time for us to take care of our mental and physical wellbeing once and for all.

Although the ongoing pandemic is granting us the gift of time to focus on ourselves, many would argue that we should take this opportunity to do any extracurricular activities. Before the pandemic, people were so immersed with their robotic, working routine that the only activity they were able to do was finishing their work-related tasks. However, some believe this lockdown is the only chance where people could have the opportunity to achieve goals beyond those work-related tasks. Yet, one can still take advantage of this extraordinarily exorbitant time to focus and reflect on themselves.

Many of us are living in fear of the uncertainty of when, and how, this crisis will end. This reassures one that overworking is indeed not the key solution to cope with the pandemic. Instead, it is time for us to focus on ourselves rather than continuing to attempt to please others.