Arc is a self-help author/speaker and AI thinker currently working as IT Manager in a tech company. He also make apps as a side hustle.
It’s understandable if you feel bad due to pandemic induced quarantine. Checking the website of World Health Organization, they’re not only worried about the pandemic, but also its effect on our mental health due to the combination of lockdown, fear for safety, and worry about the future. Anyway, let’s set aside the things that we’re not in control of and talk about how people frequently neglect the importance of productivity on their mental health.
If you don’t believe me, imagine this. The first thing you do when you wake up is to check your phone if you have any important messages. But it didn’t stop there. Fingers unconsciously navigate on your favorite social media account. Then you don’t realize that you fall again to endless scrolling rabbit hole. You look at the time and you realize that 2 hours had already passed. What supposed to be a 2 minute activity just to check something important end up to 2 hours of mindless scrolling. Now you’re unmotivated to do something. Anxiety starts to strike in when you think about the chores that you haven’t started yet. You can’t help dwelling on it to the point of you’re already imagining a lot of “What if?” scenarios. After making a lot of wishes for things that you can’t turn back, which includes I wish my life is better, you remember how much you don’t like your current situation, and you ask what the hell am I doing with my life? Nothing bad is happening, but you feel bad. Congratulations! You’re now depressed.
Sounds familiar? If this scenario is not happening to you, it means that you have a productive life and I suggest that you keep doing whatever you’re doing. Because for a lot of people, being unproductive is an everyday scenario that they’re enduring.
People often believed that busyness is the primary cause of depression, when in reality, it’s actually the opposite. Yes, the emotional pressure of doing a lot of things often leads to stress which may cause depression. But it only happens to people who wouldn’t get days-off.
How about for people whose everyday is a day-off? Ever wondered why those who slack are more emotionally unstable than those who are always occupied.
The false belief
Since the beginning of modern civilization, society made us believe that the most ideal life is to become rich without any responsibilities. That part about becoming rich is true since majority of people’s problem is lack of resources. As for the responsibility part, it turns out that the things that makes us occupied are the ones keeping us mentally healthy.
You may have heard news about some rich and famous people who can buy everything, sleep and wake up whatever time they want, and has no responsibilities but ends up committing suicide.
There are also those who don’t worry on how to provide for their family because they’re rich. So they just play all day, drink and party every night but end up feeling depressed the next day.
Then there are those rich people who can afford not to work anymore for the rest of their life, but is still working so hard on something bigger than themselves.
There is no freedom and happiness from slacking in a long run. Only depression and despair.
That’s why don’t take the advice from gurus or multi-level marketing business that the ultimate goal is becoming rich and not working anymore. Not only it’s bad for your self-esteem, but it’s also dangerous to your mental health.
Let me clarify again, becoming rich is good and making everyone rich is better. But that’s not the end game of life.
The ultimate goal is to have a work that you’re going to do for the rest of your life until your last breath. Becoming good at it that you’re contributing on something bigger than yourself.
Going back, the false belief that having no work to do is an ideal life had cause serious mental health problems to those who are practicing it. Because it eliminates sense of purpose which provide reason to wake up each day.
It turns out that the things that makes you occupied are good for your mental health. Not to mention the emotional reward when you get things done.
Sense of achievement
The good feeling when something you work for comes to completion. Also known as sense of achievement.
Whether it is as big as working hard to be rich, or just as simple as finishing your household chores. Sense of achievement is something that you need to work for. You’re not going to feel it for something that you can get in an instant.
That’s why it’s a drag cleaning your room. But it feels satisfying once you’re done.
It’s painful to workout. But you feel stronger after resting.
It’s difficult to study continuously for years. But you feel victorious once you graduate.
It’s stressful to raise children. But all the stress won’t matter anymore when your children grows up to be successful.
All of the achievement that you felt will never exist if you didn’t exert effort in the first place.
Of course, being productive is never easy. That’s why it is important to start the day right.
Start your day right
Here’s an important thing that you should take note of. The way you start your day plays a big role on how productive your whole day will be. That’s why the most productive people had morning rituals or routine. Because doing it sends a message to unconscious auto pilot mind that things needs to get done. It can be as simple as stretching or meditation. While some begins their day with vigorous physical exercise to quickly emerge their energy. Other people just begin working directly the moment they leave the bed as a head start.
It’s up to you what kind of ritual or routine you wanted to do. But never ever start your day with social media, especially feeding your brain with other people’s lives.
Stop updating yourself with other people’s lives
I may offend a lot of people here. But for what its worth, I’ll tell this anyway.
For the love of your mental health. Quit the habit of checking people’s lives. It’s not healthy and it will never be. Not to mention that it’s unproductive as well.
Look, I’m not saying social media is bad. Because in this era of pandemic where a lot of people lost their jobs, it’s the only way for them to earn by selling something online. The main issue is the habitual browsing in social media for the purpose of seeking happiness, by updating oneself with other people’s lives. Doing it promotes depression. That is because we humans can easily fall trap to comparing ourselves to others, leading to cruel cycle of jealousy. It’s also unproductive and we feel bad for it.
So to stop this kind of habit, it’s either you restrain yourself or if you can’t, remove the social media app from your phone.
Now how about for family members or close friends. How do you keep yourself informed about your loved ones? Simple. Go talk to them instead of stalking their profile. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a simple message. The important thing here is that you don’t use your loved ones as an excuse to mindlessly browse on social media for hours.
Of course, social media is not the only problem here. There are tons of distraction everywhere that can ruin your productivity such as streaming media and video games.
There’s a time for everything
Let me share my parent’s advice when we were kids. It’s in tagalog (Yes. I’m a Filipino) so I’ll try my best to translate it in english:
There’s time for everything.
There’s time to play.
There’s time to eat.
There’s time to sleep.
There’s time to work.
My parents are right. There’s time for everything. If we don’t respect these times, it will destroy our life in a long run.
Playing video games, watching tv, or scrolling on smartphone all the time will ruin your health and career.
Eating all the time will give you sickness.
Sleeping all the time will make your body weak.
Working all the time without resting will drain all your energy until your life becomes dull.
We have the privilege to make choices on how we wanted to use our time. But it doesn’t mean that we’re exempted from the consequence of abusing that privilege.
Doing something for pleasure all the time will eventually make you feel bad. Then it becomes addictive. No matter how much you get, you will always feel that it wasn’t enough. As the addiction continuous, it requires larger and larger amount to get the same pleasure and meaning.
The only way to get out of this vicious cycle of addiction is to practice your privilege to make choices differently. Instead of choosing what you wanted, you have to choose what you’re willing to give up. And that is called self-restraint.
Paradoxically, the only way to get out of bad feeling cycle is through self-restraint. Preventing oneself from staying late so that waking up early won’t be a drag. Eating just the right amount of food to prevent future sickness. Enduring the pain of working out in order to get physical strength and stamina. Practicing strong work ethics that paves way to better career opportunities. Limiting oneself to a single night our per week in order to have more time for loved ones.
You can feel better in a long run by choosing the limitations that you wanted to impose on yourself. Because self-restraint is sacrificing little for greater gains. It’s about giving up simple pleasures for long term happiness. And there is no productivity without self-restraint.
Without productivity, there is no sense of purpose. Without sense of purpose, there is no reason to wake up each day. And without a reason to wake up each day, there is only despair.
Don’t wish for more time to rest, but ask for more energy to be productive.
Disclaimer: This article is not about clinical depression which is different. The ideas may help ease the difficulty of clinical depression, but it’s still better to seek help from a licensed psychiatrist.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 Arc Sosangyo