Like me and most of the world, you have probably spent the last few months in quarantine. Maybe you're working from home, maybe you're an essential worker, maybe you're a student who had to finish school online. Whoever you are, you've suddenly had A LOT of extra time on your hands… what to do with this time? If you're like me, you have been sitting around binge watching everything and anything you can on Netflix or Disney+, picked up a hobby or two (I was crafting, painting, and drawing like there was no tomorrow), spent some time outside in the sunshine when the weather brightened up, and maybe even read a few books. I have also been spending way too much time on social media, which is where the premise of this article begins. Quarantine has been hard for everyone, as isolation and minimal human contact is truly harmful to one's psyche. And social media honestly just makes it worse. There is a constant pressure to be doing something, to be productive, to be working out, to be making yourself the best version possible because guess what? Now you've got the time!
But quarantine doesn't work like that. We are sad, defeated, upset, isolated, tired, bored, lonely, nostalgic, angry – you name it. And now we feel so much societal pressure to make the most of every free minute we have when all we wanna do is lay in bed and watch our favorite movie… does that make you feel worse? Because it definitely made me feel terrible. Now, I don't want to speak for everyone, because I'm sure there are many people who feel better working out and being productive every day in quarantine. And if that's you, great, but then this article is not for you. It's for the person who is starting to break under the pressure of it all. I'm here to tell you you're not alone, and you're stronger than you think.
Let's talk about social media and societal expectations for a second, shall we? As a young woman in America, I am constantly surrounded by influencers, beautiful celebrities, fitness gurus, you name it, all in the palm of my hand. The flow of information and images is constant and has been since I was a young teen, when platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter became widely popular. And well before these apps became all the rage, it was Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Women's Health, and People magazine in the line at the grocery store perpetuating toxic female body image, and encouraging dangerous fad diets to lose weight fast and achieve the "ideal body type." Images and ideas like this are detrimental to women and girl's self confidence and self love. We are constantly made to think we need to look a certain way to be confident or attractive, and that is simply not the case. All bodies are beautiful. No matter who you are, how big, small, tall, short, thin, thick, makeup, no makeup, six pack abs, or stomach rolls – YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, AND YOU ARE PERFECT JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. All bodies are different, and beautiful means different things to everyone. I know that society tells people, especially women, that they need to look a certain way or be a certain weight to be beautiful and attractive, and I am here to tell you that is all bullshit. YOU get to determine what beauty means to you, what confidence means to you, what self love means to you. Your worth is not defined by a number on a scale or an image in the mirror. YOU are beautiful.
Now back to quarantine: With all of this free time on our hands, and the lives of strangers, celebrities, and influencers on social media at our fingertips, there is a constant pressure to be making the most of this time. Why not work out every day now that you don't have to commute, or for some, even work at all? Why not go on that diet now that you have time to meal prep? If you sit on the couch, eating and watching TV all day, you're going to gain some weight… and we are told by the world that that's not good. That we can be doing more, that we can be doing better. Well, I'm here to tell you that just like all that stuff about body image, that is bullshit. Remember all those emotions I listed earlier that are intensified because of quarantine?? Those feelings are real and they are valid. And it is okay to feel those things. It is okay if those feelings make you want to lay in bed with your dog all day and eat a pint of ice cream. What is not okay, is forcing yourself to workout, restrict your eating or follow a strict diet, or do things you normally wouldn't do because you feel like you have to. I'm here to tell you that you should only be doing things because you want to, because they make you feel better.
For me, I felt incredibly pressured to work out during the height of quarantine. I had just been sent home from abroad, was extremely sad and upset and angry at the world, and sat around on my couch for weeks until all the beautiful fitness influencers on instagram with these amazing bodies were posting their workouts and diets to battle the "quarantine 15." And those posts immediately made me feel like shit, made me nervous about my body and the way it looked, and made me feel pressured to work out and diet because now I had the time. After 2 days of literal hell, I finally realized that this wasn't what I wanted. I didn't like it or look forward to it. I hated the way these workouts and social media accounts were making me feel. So I stopped. I unfollowed those people because they weren't helping me, they were hurting me, they were fueling the negative body images that have been following me around for years. And I thought about what I enjoy doing, what I miss. I'm a dancer, and I haven't danced since December, so I looked up dance videos and activities to get my body moving and make me happy – and this is where I found yoga.
I always loved stretching at the beginning or ending of a dance class; it was the most peaceful time to relax and be at one with my mind and my body. Yoga (more specifically, Yoga with Adriene) brought a joy to my quarantine experience that I wasn't expecting. I woke up excited to pull up a Yoga with Adriene video. The various series of movements made my body feel good, Adriene's calming voice and little jokes brought an element of serenity and fun to the practice, and the meditation brought me so much peace and relaxation during a time of crazy emotions. Finally, FINALLY!! I found something that is for me, that I don't feel pressured to do, but I do it because it is something I love and makes me happy. For you, that could be sitting on the couch all day, going for long walks, Facetime with friends and family, playing video games, reading books, Chloe Ting workouts, arts and crafts, listening to podcasts… anything!
I guess the point of this article is this: quarantine sucks, the emotional toll is even worse, and social media doesn't help – BUT – if you can find something you love and enjoy, and I mean anything that makes your day just a little bit better, then you should do it. Societal pressure to be productive and become your best self is toxic, and it isn't helpful during a scary time like this. You do what is right for you, what makes you happy, what brings you joy and peace during these uncertain times. You are strong, you are beautiful, you are unique.
- Why It Is Okay To Be Lazy In Quarantine ›
- You Don't Have To Be Productive In Quarantine ›
- Quarantine Is NOT About Losing Weight ›
- 11 Ways To Stay Mentally Healthy During Quarantine ›
- Society And Its Ideal Body Image ›
- The Problem With Perfection ›