A case of the "shoulds"

A case of the "shoulds"

This is a crazy, scary time. The novel coronavirus has upended our lives, and our new normal feels incredibly abnormal.

We’ve been working at home, homeschooling our kids, limiting our shopping, rationing our toilet paper...and many of us have never done these things before.

We’re keeping a distance from loved ones and worrying that there might not be enough food at the grocery store when we finally go.

Some of us are essential employees and have to go to work and interact with people who might be carrying the virus, many of whom are feeling as stressed as we are. (Thank you, thank you!)

Some of us are not feeling well and still have to go to work because our employers are threatening us or guilting us into it. (I’m looking at you, FedEx and UPS and Gamestop.)

Some of us are sick and have no idea whether we have the virus, and we may never know because we can’t be tested.

We’re watching the news and press conferences and reading articles online, and we’re getting conflicting information from every direction.

We’re starting to come down with a case of the shoulds. Not the obvious shoulds like washing our hands and social distancing, but self-imposed shoulds like catching up on projects we haven’t had the time or motivation to do.

For me, the shoulds really kick in on Sundays. Today you may feel like you should be painting the bedroom, organizing your photos, cleaning the house, sending out thank you notes, writing blog posts, or finishing that sewing project.

I’m here to tell you that aside from following the advice of the CDC , WHO, and your local government, you don’t have to do anything today.

I bet you were expecting me to tell you about all of the organizing and productivity projects you can undertake. Now’s a great time to clean out your junk drawer! Here are 100 things you can declutter! Here’s how to increase your productivity while working from home!

Well guess what...I haven’t organized or decluttered a damned thing in my house in the past 10 days, and I don’t feel bad about it at all.

Instead of the normal shoulds, I will offer some suggestions on what I think you should do today, Sunday, a day of rest.


Or don’t! If you’re tired of resting or resting just isn’t your thing, do something that you want to do. Something that will take your mind off the state of the world and give you some moments of peace. Something that will give you a feeling of control over your life.

My husband and I are newly married, and we’ve learned some things about each other in the past 10 days. One of which is that we each have or own way of self-soothing and feeling like we have some control over our situation.

He likes to stay informed and soak up information, discussing what he learns with his kids and family, and putting recommendations into practice.

I like to be helpful to other people. I found nitrile gloves at AutoZone (hot tip!) and left them on the porch of a nurse in my town, and I’ve been researching how to make masks to send to hospitals. (Lots of good info on that here.) This afternoon I'm going to go for a walk and pick up trash. (Weird, I know.)

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with feelings of stress and lack of control.

So on this Sunday, here are some ideas for not doing the things you feel you should do, but doing the things you want to do. Maybe one of them will resonate with you.

  • Sit on your porch and soak up some sunshine.
  • Re-read your favorite book.
  • Go for a walk, anywhere. (Just give others a wide berth!)*
  • Snuggle with your pet.
  • Snuggle with your kid.
  • Dream about where you want to go on your next vacation.
  • Watch a feel-good movie from your past. We just watched Moonstruck and I smiled the entire time.
  • Bake some bread.
  • Listen to a podcast.
  • Listen to a church service.
  • Carry on with book club and family birthdays...just move them online.
  • Call your neighbors and check in on them.
  • Meditate or exercise, indoors or out.*
  • Change the outfit on your Bitmoji.
  • Watch Corgi videos.
  • Eat some Easter candy.
  • Sit on your couch and do nothing.

*If your state is not prohibiting you from leaving your house, of course!

In time, your motivation to tackle projects may return, and then I say go for it! I may even share some ideas when mine does.

But for now, enjoy whatever downtime you’ve been given and give yourself permission to avoid the shoulds. Aside from washing your hands and social distancing, it’s the healthiest thing you can do.

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