toxic productivity. mental health in self-isolation pt.1

Disclaimer: as a student who lives at home with family, many of my self-isolation experiences are going to be different to what are possibly experiencing, though we are all experiencing this in the same way to a certain extent, we're all going to grow differently from this. 

A few days ago I had my first (possibly not the last, but I’ll keep you updated) mental breakdown in self-isolation, there was nothing in particular that triggered this reaction, but I definitely it was a culmination of lots of mixed messages coming out from the world.

The main, underlying message concerned productivity in this very unusual and uncertain time, half of the people on social media and across the internet where in advocate for growing through the pain by not letting this “new-found time” go to “waste”, as someone who struggles with putting her worth in alignment with her accomplishments both in her academic and personal life, I jumped on this bandwagon instantly.

I was keeping of top of university assignments, now that I am officially a undergraduate student at Zoom University (a terrifying thought) and ended up being a month in advance of reaching my goals, yay me. I was doing all the self-care things, the intense reading of books, the nightly yoga flows, even a sprinkle of pilates work-outs (despite my previous intense relationship with exercise), and of course, meditation to help me drift off to sleep.

Then came the problem.


I burnt out pretty heavily, I indulged in too much of a good thing, though the above routine sound like the perfect daily life to live, it instantly became my worst nightmare. I spent a while day dissociating and felt like I was floating above my body, my arms and legs weakened and I lost much of the mental strength that I had. I was panicking and distressed because this had never happened before, was I going isolation crazy? Possibly.

It took me a long time to figure out the problem was staring at me right in face, in fact, I was living it. There is a global pandemic, a crises of the highest destructive capacity occurring right outside my door, and I was worried about being productive? This is exactly what the other half of the people have been advocating, that this period of lives IS NOT NORMAL, we’re living our daily lives as best we can whilst still trying to understand what the heck is actually going on the world.

Nothing makes sense and that’s okay, it’s okay to still live whilst figuring things out.

From this moment on I reminded myself day in and day out that things would be different, things are already different and they’ll continue to change, and I am still existing, still learning and still growing, even if I’m not being productive in the same capacity as I was before.

In hindsight I began to see through to the flaws in my intense productive regime, I was running away from what really mattered, my entire focus and attention was diverted away from inner self-healing and towards checking off a habit on my long list of to-do’s. The whole idea that my self-worth = my accomplishments/productivity began to break down because I was pulled into an environment that was not the norm. It led me down a path where I dug deeper and deeper within myself and came across layers of built-up shame, resentment and anger.

I was beginning again.

© Afiyah/WhenLifeAwakens, 2020. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Afiyah/WhenLifeAwakens with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.








10 thoughts on “toxic productivity. mental health in self-isolation pt.1”

    1. I agree, it looks completely different for everyone, but I’m struggling to come to terms with how much people on the internet preach about not “wasting” this time by being more productive with their lives and I think this mindset can be harmful to a lot of people as well.
      Thank you for the comment 😊♥️


  1. I’ve also found that there’s only so much productivity I can do before I just feel tired of it all! I set myself a schedule for this week that I aimed to stick to but by Thursday all I wanted to do was sit and read books all day rather than study! I decided that sometimes we all just need to accept and embrace the unproductivity! Something which I’m super bad at, but working on. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was in the exact same situation, since this is my final year of my degree a lot of my works carries a lot of weight and I did have a schedule for working but by the second week I stopped and read tons of books instead, though I don’t regret it I’m still learning to take time out and care for myself 😊😊
      Thank your for your comment ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem! I’m final year of uni too so totally understand! It’s all about finding the balance, and also reminding myself that I am actually doing a lot, even if my head is telling me I’m not! Good luck with the rest of your work 😊📖 and enjoy all the reading!

        Liked by 1 person

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