Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, people have suffered in many ways. Students are deprived of education, people have lost their jobs, and some are not finding it productive enough to work from home. This is, of course, is in addition to the loss of more than 810,000 lives. But, social media has found its new mojo in utilizing this time to learn something new. People have shared stories about the advancements that they made during the lockdown phase. At first, it looked inspirational, but very quickly, it became something incredibly stressful.
People have the right to make their own choices. Suppose a millennial on social media continuously brags about their refined skills and asks you about your gains. In that case, it doesn’t go down well with people who are already stressed due to these unprecedented times. These activities introduce the negative aspect of positivity, called “toxic positivity.”
What is Toxic Positivity?
Toxic positivity is the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state across all situations. Suppose you are diagnosed with a fatal disease like Leukemia. When you discuss it with someone who’s ultra-optimistic, you’ll only hear a few positive quotes with a “nothing to worry” vibe imposed all over it. Such conversations don’t do you any good but only increase anxiety and raise self-doubt.
This is also the case with the ongoing “learn during the pandemic lockdown” movement. People are breaking their schedules apart, compromising their sleep and working overboard just because the trend demands them to upskill. This, in turn, lowers their productivity and they become burdened because of it. Simply put, they’re doing something out of their comfort zone because they feel it’s a necessity. All of this builds a bubble of toxic positivity.
The Unwanted Pandemic Pressure
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused havoc ever since it began. It has a massive spread rate and has adversely affected more than 150 countries. Offices have been shut, and the Governments of many nations are trying to manufacture safety guidelines that can provide a boost to the dying world economy. Employees are working on the edge of the knife because they don’t know for how long they are associated with their organizations. Amidst issues of job security and loss of education, there’s the added pressure of doing something productive like polishing your skills, developing new skills, reading a plethora of books and whatnot. Nobody is caring about people who just want to look inward and give time to themselves. Everyone is not the same, especially in the way a person tackles a situation. For many people, reading a book is the best way to pass their time but does that enable them to look down upon people who aren’t avid readers? There’s non-stop bragging on social media about how
individuals have learned a new skill in 3 weeks, and they love it. A person who comes across these posts begins to feel insecure, and anxiety soon takes over.
The Negative Impact of Toxic Positivity
The relentless stress that a person endures due to the unwanted pressure adversely affects your body. When you feel low, inefficient, and start cursing yourself, you physically feel negative. It’s a biological process that starts from your brain. The adrenaline rush makes you either take up the unwanted challenge of “learning something”, or it makes you go against it. When you learn against your will, you won’t learn a thing, and it would only sow the seeds for chronic stress. On the other hand, if you convince yourself to not go for the “learning campaign”, you’ll feel down, and the “good-for-nothing” notion would win. Chronic stress is harmful to your body because it has a negative impact on your amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for giving meaning to your emotions. It increases the level of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines in your body. Such fluctuations not only impact your mental health but your physical health too. Chronic stress is the primary reason for cardiac arrests and increased blood pressure.
What should you do?
Relax. Don’t panic over everything and stop comparing your lifestyle to others. It can be hard, but it is doable. Their hobbies and passions don’t have to overlap with yours. If you feel that watching TV or reading the newspaper is an activity that keeps you mentally active and motivated, continue with that. If you feel like it isn’t, don’t do it. Your health, along with the well-being of your loved ones – both physical and mental – is what this phase is all about. So, follow the saying, “health is wealth” and continue to follow the safety guidelines. The world is in this together, and it’s a battle that we’ll soon win, together, united – regardless of whether you flew through that reading list this summer or not.