Debunking Productivity: 5 Things Students Can Do For Themselves
As students in 2020, we are all trying to balance our studies, schedules, and personal lives amongst the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing alarming news stories out of vision as we focus on what needs to get done. Amidst this all, there is an unwavering need to continue being ‘productive,’ in a way we have never been before. This idea seems quite ironic—especially with physical restrictions on movement and productivity itself—but it is currently the strongest advice being dispersed throughout global media: “Start a big business, build a charity, work 12+ hour shifts, go to the gym more!” In reality, these activities are more difficult to achieve in the current situation. As our world is rapidly changing in ways we can’t predict, the idea of productivity must also change. Here are 5 simple ways that we students can be productive without breaking our mental bank.
Take a Walk
This seems pretty basic, but a lot of us don’t recognize how essential walking can be for our physical and mental health. Taking a walk immerses you in your environment, allowing your thoughts to run free as your body moves. In Beppu, I find myself walking almost everywhere I go. Supermarket strolls, exploring the beautiful scenery of Beppu Park, and going back and forth to visit my friends who live nearby. Luckily, Beppu is a smaller city with less people commuting on foot, which eases the worries of walking amongst crowded streets, and because everyone wears masks when they head out, you can be rest assured that everyone around you will be playing their part in creating a safe environment for all. Somedays, I find myself just walking with no direction in mind! It’s a chance to tune into your innermost thoughts and focus on what’s going on, and why you might be thinking a certain way. This pandemic has left a majority of us stuck at home and taking a walk may just be that one freeing activity to make you feel more content with how you spent your day!
Redefine What Self-care is for You, then Act
“Work hard, play hard.” For me, this quote was always missing something. I believe in the idea of working smart, not necessarily hard, and rewarding one’s self even if you haven’t worked as hard as society tells us we should. Everyone’s life situation has changed and we are all trying to adapt to this new ‘normal.’ One thing I did during my last, fully-online semester was taking proper breaks to either eat out with a friend, write a story or article, or read one of my favorite books. I enjoy doing these activities as they add to the small things that make life enjoyable despite everything else. Self-care does not need to be luxurious and extravagant. Find what’s relaxing or fun for you, or try picking up something new and see how it fits your vibe. You don’t always need to work to the bone to justify taking care of yourself.
Journal Your Thoughts
This is probably one of the most effective, game-changing things that helped me cope during this challenging period. Journaling does not just improve your writing skills, but acts as way to track and measure your journey through daily life. I started journaling two months ago, jotting down how I feel, nagging thoughts, what stresses me out, as well as things I’m excited about or matters I feel I need to resolve. You can journal anything you want, in any order. At the end of the day or the next, reflecting over what you wrote helps you understand yourself more and puts everything out on paper to free up your headspace.
Social Distance, but Still Be Social
Just because we can’t go out and meet up with friends as freely does not mean we have to shut ourselves away from society. Finding new ways to be creative about how we can stay in touch with each other is essential for our wellbeing as social creatures. Though we are all getting tired of using FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype for school, daily catch-ups or calls could be made more fun with a few new flares added in. This can be in the form of group calls with games, such as Never Have I Ever or Who’s Most Likely To..., two games my friends and I often do when we catch up during group video calls. Netflix parties also make for a fun online get-together! At the end of the day, it’s what we can do within our current limitations that makes all the difference.
Read, Reflect, and Discuss
This sounds pretty straightforward, but another way of being productive is through reading. For me, I enjoy reading as a way of keeping my brain engaged, which helps to counteract boredom. While reading fiction novels or manga can be relaxing, books on social and humanitarian issues or online articles about current news can also be a productive endeavor. But here’s the key: don’t just stop when the page is finished. After reading, I try to write down notable quotes or ideas that resonated with me, and find a friend or classmate who has also read the text to discuss with!--
Granted, you don’t necessarily have to do any of these activities. I do hope, however, that it inspires you to think about what you can do to define productivity for you. The nature and state of productivity has changed due to the state of the world at the moment; as a result of this, the definition of productivity must change too. It’s important to not lose yourself trying to keep up with everything going on, and you should endeavor to take care of yourself in a way that works for you. Stay hydrated, practice self-care, and prioritize your mental health during this period. (And don’t forget to wear a mask when going out too!)
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