Lockdown guilt: why your inner critic is louder than ever right now

A woman feeling guilty and stressed

Posted byLauren Geall

Feeling guilty about how you’re feeling or not being productive “enough” during lockdown? You’re not alone.

Lockdown has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. One minute, you find yourself randomly bursting out in tears, and the next, you’re comparing your situation to all the fun things people are doing on social media. 

All of the feelings we would have experienced pre-lockdown – sadness, happiness, jealousy etc – are now amplified.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

One such feeling which seems to have been given a massive boost under lockdown is guilt. Now more than ever, our actions (and non-actions) seem to come with a newfound sense of moral responsibility – we feel guilty about not getting enough done, we feel guilty for coping “too well” and we feel guilty for feeling low (“some people have it so much worse,” we tell ourselves).

Among the team here at Stylist, many of us have found our inner-critic get louder in lockdown, leaving us feeling guilty about the smallest of things.

“I know I should be exercising more, but – in between working full days from home, catching up with people on Zoom, cooking dinner, and sleeping – I just haven’t found time,” explains Kayleigh Dray, digital editor-at-large. “My step count has dropped from a very healthy 12K to a measly 3,000, I’ve ignored all the 5K challenges I’ve been tagged in on Instagram, and I’ve done… ooh, one workout video since lockdown began?

“I know it’s not good enough, and it’s really getting me down. But, when you’re only allowed out once a day, how on earth am I meant to keep on top of things?”

A working from home set-up
“I’m torn between seeing this time as an opportunity to rest, and a chance to get shit done.”

Senior digital writer Megan Murray has been feeling guilty about not using her “spare time” productively, even though she knows it’s OK to rest.

“Like I imagine many people are, I’m torn between seeing this time as an opportunity to rest, and a chance to get shit done,” she explains.

“My notebooks are full of bucket lists and goals of things I want to do in my spare time and now I have so much of it, I feel overwhelmed by the expectation I’ve put on myself to achieve it all. I feel guilty for feeling tired even though I haven’t exerted my body all day, I feel guilty when I simply can’t be bothered for not wanting to tick something off one of those lists and I feel guilty for not spending a bit of money on art supplies or a new book – even though I know if I saw a dress that I liked I most likely splurge instantly.

“I’m wrestling with a mixture of these feelings a lot at the moment, but I think for me balance is key. I’m trying to keep my brain occupied with hobbies that stimulate me, but I need to know it’s okay to slow down and do nothing, too.”

On top of this pressure to be productive and keep on top of things like working out and eating healthy, many people are also finding themselves feeling guilty about feeling low or anxious during this difficult time and comparing themselves to others who “have it worse”.

As mental health advocate Jo Love recently articulated on Instagram: “Stop feeling bad for feeling bad. I’m fighting this so hard myself right now but we cannot rank our suffering. There is no point system where we can give our feelings a value and decide if they are allowed in or not.”https://embeds.stylist.co.uk/uYVwgK0?maxheight=1200&app=1&lazy=1&v=1

It’s clear that our high-running emotions and worries about the future are leaving us more vulnerable to feelings of guilt and self-criticism – but why does this happen?

Charlotte Armitage, a media and business psychologist, explains that we’re struggling to adapt our expectations to the change in circumstances, meaning we’re finding ourselves falling short of what we expect our daily achievements or emotions to look like.

“Our lives have been turned upside down within days and our routines have been abolished for now,” she explains. 

“Through these changes, we have become unstable, not quite knowing what we are supposed to be doing with our days. These significant changes require significant adjustment and that takes a long time to facilitate. In a short space of time, there have been huge behavioural changes between what we had become used to achieving in a day, to what we now achieve in a day.”…



F. Kaskais Web Guru

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