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Self-Care Saturday: Expectations in Lockdown

Posted: 09.05.20

It seems like everybody else is becoming a better version of themselves during lockdown: learning new skills, polishing up old ones and tackling endless to-do-lists. The influx of news and social media posts present stories about the amazing things people are accomplishing during lockdown. And what’s worse offering advice on how to be the perfect parent, or have a pristine home, or even master the perfect banana bread recipe.

It is easy to think everybody is doing better than you during lockdown. But in reality, there is no way to “do” lockdown, this is a completely unknown territory for everyone and what people post on social media is only a fraction of the time they are spending at home. Perhaps for some setting expectations and goals works for them as it gives them a sense of purpose and distraction. But for others, if we are not able to fulfil these expectations, it can cause feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. Striving to measure up to the examples on social media can take a further toll on mental health when projects fail because we don’t have the resources to hand.

Self-Criticism and Unrealistic:

Sometimes setting high expectations can lead to unnecessary perfectionism, which involves a tendency to have frequent thoughts about achieving ideal standards coupled with relentless striving to reach goals that are unrealistic. Of course, we are all looking for new ways to fill the hours without the ability to meet up with friends and family, go to the shops or out for food. Perhaps you have taken up a new skill or got creative in the kitchen. But expecting to completely overhaul our lives and do things we would not even expect of ourselves pre-lockdown is just absurd.

Social Comparisons:

It’s natural for people to compare themselves to others to feel more purpose when they experience uncertainty. Perhaps following what others are doing and attempting to emulate them. These social comparisons help us to evaluate our performance and motivate self-improvement.

But for some, checking social media and the news for how others are dealing with lockdown can suggest to them they are not accomplishing enough and falling short of what is expected. This can lead to worry and repetitive negative thoughts about not being perfect.
Let’s state the obvious, everyone’s situation is different; where they are living, who they are living with. For many individuals in the NPUK community, as well as looking after themselves, they may be caring for others additional needs. So, to expect that everybody will be doing the same activities makes no sense. We are all doing what we need to do to get through this time, and ultimately only you know what is best for you. Whether this is doing a rigorous exercise routine, or having a day in front of Netflix in your PJs.

Self Compassion and Imperfections:

It’s important to accept our personal limitations and imperfections, of course this is easier said than done. But even just showing yourself some self-compassion, you would not expect anyone else to change during lockdown, so why inflict this pain onto yourself? Reminding ourselves that we are all imperfect and that we all struggle with failures and shortcomings is essential for practicing self-compassion. Showing ourselves the same kindness and acceptance that we would for a close friend who is struggling during lockdown is one way to cultivate this self-compassion.

Keeping things in perspective can also help. For example, is it really the end of the world if your sourdough starter failed?

Embracing our imperfections can help us be more aware of our mental health and feel more connected to others during lockdown. This is an important first step towards reaching out and getting help when we need it.

It’s so easy to get caught up in social media posts showing what individuals are up to, especially as we are relying so much on technology to stay connected. But just know that you are doing what you need and think is best in order to cope during this strange time and the NPUK team are always there for you and your family. You can email at any time: info@npuk.org