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The University of Southampton
Enabling ServicesPart of Student Services

Dealing with pressure to achieve whilst staying at home

Published: 1 May 2020
Female student writing at desk

You will probably have seen on the news, social media and maybe even in your own household; people using this time to be ‘productive’ There are people sharing posts of themselves doing workouts, learning something new or achieving a long-term goal. It is important to remember that everyone is different and will deal with a difficult situation in their own way. If your achievements for a day include, getting dressed, doing some studying and then watching Netflix, that is great too.

The important thing during these times is to practice self-care and while for some people this means workouts and keeping busy, for others this may mean enjoying slowing down from your normal pace of life.

You don’t have to use this time to improve yourself.  There is no need to ‘achieve’ anything exceptional, getting through each day in whatever way you can is enough.  People who are perfectionists may be finding this time particularly difficult.  But part of taking care of ourselves involves taking the pressure off. You do not need to be living the ‘perfect’ life straight away when there has been a huge change.  Find things that give you genuine pleasure amongst the worries and do more of this.  Life is all about balance; it is okay to treat yourself, to take a break from your study and to spend time facetiming friends, if that is what makes you feel better. 

Rigidly sticking to your pre-pandemic aims and level of achievement will lead to disappointment and anxiety.  Instead, practise self-compassion by being gentle, kind and understanding with yourself. As students, you have already achieved a lot by adjusting to studying remotely, experiencing routine changes and not being able to stay connected with friends/family as normal. Celebrate the things you do achieve, rather than the things that you don’t.  You may find it helpful to write down your achievements for each day, no matter how small.  You can then look back at your list if you feel you haven’t done enough for the week and see what you have managed to complete.  You will probably be surprised at just how much you have managed to do! 

Keeping in touch with others and with the outside world is essential for our wellbeing.  However, you may find that you need to temporarily unfollow some channels.  You might follow fitness bloggers, bakers or influencers who you normally relate to but at this time, their attempts at being inspirational may have the opposite effect if you are comparing yourself to them.  You can always begin to follow them again once you feel you are ready to or you may find some completely new people to follow instead!  You can even mute friends and family if you find what they are sharing unhelpful, and they won’t even know!  Some of us may find this a helpful time to take a total break from social media. 

Before you know it, we will be out of lockdown and the busyness of modern life will be upon us again.  Take the time to relax and clear your mind while life has a slower pace.  If we don’t give ourselves a break during a global pandemic when are we going to? 

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