It’s not my usual kind of stress, which comes in big bursts, then mellows out to something I can live with. This stress is the kind that weighs you down, dragging like a giant concrete block behind you.
Today I came home, showered the germs off of me and sat in a chair on my living room for a good 30-40 minutes. I didn’t do anything except stare at a plant or the trees out the window, taking care not to disturb my cat who took up residence on my chest. Of course, I scrolled half-heartedly through Instagram for the first 5 minutes, but even that proved to be too much work.
I didn’t want to sit and watch TV. It seemed exhausting and boring. A ridiculous feeling considering that watching TV is one of the most passive activities you can do. Reading, one of my favourite past times, felt far too stressful and like just too much work. My brain felt — feels — overloaded and activating it felt like doing 1,000 chores. It’s a feeling I’ve become familiar with as I watch my ‘to read’ pile of books becoming bigger, while the ‘read’ pile stays stagnant. No longer does reading before bed feel relaxing, it feels like yet another item on my to do list. Yet another thing to turn my brain on for, another chore I can’t possibly muddle my way through.
And, that list…it’s long. It’s filled with daily chores, seasonal chores, projects I abandoned months ago that are now littering my house. Renovation ideas keep bouncing around my head, begging me to pick one, to make my house more Pinterest-worthy, more comforting, more finished.
The amount of pressure feels almost surreal, as it all adds up at once. I should be looking to have a baby. I should already be pregnant. I should be healthier. I should be outside more. I should work out more. I should be further along in my writing career. I should be making more money. I should, I should, I should.
The shoulds are piling up quicker, getting heavier everyday, with no end in sight. Add the fact that the whole world is fucking losing it and I’m surprised I even get up and go on with the day in the mornings.
I’m still sitting on this chair, unable to move because my brain is still resting (and that snuggly cat is happily snoring), not yet ready to do anything else. I’m thinking about the article I need to write tonight, wishing I had nothing to do. I’m happy I have work. I’m happy I have to write tonight. It’s what I’ve been working towards for years. And yet…just right now, just for a cool couple of weeks or a month, I’d like a break. A break from the world, a break from feeling like you’ll never get your motivation back. A break from feeling so damn burnt out all the time.
When a future trip out to your cabin in the woods filled with relaxation and nature feels like a chore, it’s time for a break. I know I won’t take one because these feelings aren’t with me 24/7 and there have been worse things in life, in history. I can’t possibly allow myself to wallow in self-pity while other people suffer far greater than I am right now. The whole world feels like shit. Things still need to get done. These feelings, though I know are valid, aren’t anything special. People are feeling them all over the world, were feeling them before the pandemic hit, and will probably be feeling them well after it’s over or we’ve come to live with it. It’s nothing special, just my brain telling me I need to take a minute to just breathe from time to time (although, not breathe in a meditative, productive sense, because even that feels like too much pressure!).
Maybe I’ll learn to let things go a little easier. Maybe I’ll learn to be nicer to myself. Maybe I’ll eat toast for dinner and call it good. Maybe not everything has to be perfect all the time and feeling completely stressed out is just my body’s way of telling me to sit the fuck down and not do anything for two minutes….or, you know, going on one hour, now.
I know that’s what it’s telling me. I know that watching TV all evening may be just what I need. It may not be the healthiest option, but sometimes it’s all you need. Like an hour to sit in a chair and just stare out the window, letting your brain reset. We’re all allowed a little nothingness moment from time to time, pandemic or not.