The world is in a state of flux. The sweeping feeling is that of anxiety and confusion. And this time around, the apprehension is not an exclusive lot of a few or some far-flung corner of the universe. No. COVID-19 has distributed and ensconced itself in a way that has continued to confound even the sceptics. One day we were living our lives, going about our businesses with gusto or indifference or lethargy, oblivious of what was around the corner. The next, a strange disease showed up and chucked all our best-laid plans in the bin. Now, the rampaging virus has taken centre stage. Upsetting every other thing that used to take our attention and It continues to dominate conversations across the world—halting life as we know it—leaving throngs stunned. That this is overwhelming is unarguable. As nations who have recorded a significant number of COVID-19 patients institute a lockdown of citizens, the anxiety has increased several notches.
All of a sudden, everyone realises that freedom of movement is a huge deal and the things we often take for granted turn out to be the critical things that define our existence.
For Lagos and Abuja residents, the 14-day stay-at-home directive has commenced. Extroverts are yet to figure out how they will navigate being restricted to limited space for an extended period. For many others, it’s the unpredictability of the situation that is messing with their heads.
The prospect of going hungry, being lonely, or losing jobs, are all-too frightening. Yet, with the steady rise in the number of infected people, there’s a possibility that life may not return to normal anytime soon.
Yet again, for a section of the populace, it’s the extra pressure that comes with making the most of the downtime. When the times were what they used to be, we complained about never having enough time to pursue the things we love. Lagos residents who hold white-collar jobs have to spend alarming hours in traffic. A situation that has been a stumbling block to the pursuit of many dreams. It’s a struggle to take a breather and do the things that make our hearts dance.
Suddenly, we have plenty of time on our hands. We are going to be holed up at home alone or with other humans, and electronic gadgets for at least two weeks.
For creatives like me, the pressure to create a masterpiece or at least stellar work is huge.
There’s plenty of talk about this season being the best time to write that bestseller, produce a hit, and wow the world with our talent. After all, we do not have to contend with the usual distractions that hinder the flow of work.
I feel this pressure. I want to take advantage of the lockdown to put out as much work as I can manage.
The pending manuscript, the abandoned online courses, and the unread books are all begging for my attention and I know this period is an opportunity for me to increase my productivity.
But I also know it’s a good time to take a step back and just breathe. Many of us are already always under constant pressure. We are encumbered with so many issues. It’s the reason we are always on the move. To achieve: to feed, to pay bills, to meet our obligations— as best as we can.
A 2019 study revealed that over half of the adult population in Lagos are hypertensive and it’s no mystery why.
While we may rue the drawbacks and losses occasioned by COVID-19, we must not lose sight of the potential gains no matter how minute they may appear.
For one, it’s a wake-up call to our leaders to improve infrastructure and put the necessary facilities in place for the benefit of all rather than a few like I expounded on in last week’s post.
Again, this can be the time to simply relax. Instead of giving in to the pressure to create your best work, if you do not feel up to it, just relax. Breathe.
Your mental health is paramount.
The thing is, these are tricky times. The tension in the air is at odds with what’s most critical to produce quality work—a peaceful mind.
The lockdown gives you the leeway to sort out your mind and the knotty issues that weigh you down.
It’s a good time to reflect: When all of this is over, should you be considering changing jobs? Is it time to pop the big question to that woman you love? Will you be ready to have that difficult discussion with your estranged mum?
If there’s anything this episode has reminded us of, it’s that nothing is guaranteed.
Life is fickle; we should be taking more risks and doing whatever we can to be happy during our short stay here.
But for now, as you struggle to ease into the compulsory stay at home, breathe. Just breathe…