Among other things, we attach our self-worth to our relationships with other people, to our careers, to our appearance and to the opinions other people have of us. One of the most common struggles we face is the attachment of our self-worth to our productivity which is not only unfair during a pandemic but can also be so damaging to our mental health.
Over the last year, all of us have faced numerous challenges, including those of the impact COVID-19 has had on our professional lives. Some of us graduated not knowing what comes next, some of us may have lost our jobs, some of us may be struggling to adjust to a lifestyle working/studying from home. Regardless of the challenges being faced, one of the underlying issues I would like to highlight is the attachment of our self-worth to our productivity.
Now I’m not entirely sure when, where, why or how we have learnt that how much work we do=self-worth. But what I do know is that it is simply unfair. Does this account for someone struggling with depression who barely managed to get out of bed and take a shower all day? Does this account for someone who just experienced a personal loss and can barely eat twice a day? Does this account for someone who may have had to relocate due to covid and is struggling to adjust to a new living environment? Does this account for someone struggling with anxiety who is barely able to feel calm for a few hours a day?
How much we’re able to get done can be impacted by so many factors that may not even be in our control so why do we let something that we don’t entirely control affect how we see ourselves? How we feel about ourselves?
The association between mental health and productivity can go both ways, our productivity can impact our mental health and our mental health can impact our productivity and it is important for us to keep this in mind. Especially when we are struggling with our mental health, we must focus on taking care of ourselves and believing that we are worthy. Practicing self-care and being kind to ourselves when we’re feeling bad is productive. Taking steps to share how we feel and to heal is productive. Doing something you enjoy like taking a walk or listening to your favorite music on a day that you’re feeling sad is productive.
The cycle of negative thinking about productivity can be so damaging and feel never ending at times. For instance, if someone who was finally able to get something done for the first time in a few days began beating themselves up for how little they have done, they would be more likely to feel bad about themselves and struggle to be productive again. Whereas if instead of beating themselves up, they applauded themselves and were proud of themselves, they would be more likely to continue being productive and feeling good about themselves. It is so important for us to sometimes just pay attention to our small achievements, to be proud of ourselves for doing something that may have been hard for us.
COVID or not, our self-worth should not be attached to how much work we’re able to get done or how much we’ve achieved. Our self-worth should come from within. It is important for us to remember, especially in the face of adversity that we are worthy of love, of happiness and of everything good in the world.