It goes without saying that this lockdown is hard on everybody.

My heart goes out to all those who have been impacted by the swift action taken to eliminate the virus and I sincerely hope that we return back to normality sooner rather than later.

In saying that, I am so glad that I can wake up and finally take the rest that I have been in need of for a really long time. Despite the relief, I can’t help but think that I should be more productive. I shouldn’t be relaxing, I should still maintain the same amount of productivity just in a different way - cooking, exercising, cleaning, art, writing, editing, extra projects and everything else we said we’d do last lockdown. A common sentiment of the March 2020 lockdown was how so many of my peers felt guilty that they didn’t do all of these things, complaining that they didn’t meet their goals or were extremely unproductive - I felt the exact same way. We were so caught up in trying to remain productive and therefore successful that we didn’t even stop to maybe enjoy a break from daily life. And therein lies my issue.

We have become so used to this idea that success and happiness in life is attained through constant hard-work and high rates of productivity - and yeah I can’t disagree. What my problem is with this aspect of society is the notion that any kind of break or rest is time wasted. Why wind down on your phone when you should be practicing how to cook three course meals? Why take a nap when you can run 8km? We’ve been given a unique opportunity to use this time and you want to catch up on sleep?

Yes. I want to catch up on sleep.

To provide context, I write from the perspective of someone who works long hours in a pizza-place, facing countless numbers of customers on a daily basis and working myself to the bone each day. Additionally, In order to enter into an industry I’ve been aiming for for a long while, I’d taken up a second job; part time with the BluWave team. The week this lockdown was announced, counting both jobs, I was set to work seven days straight with no real meaningful leisure time. The long hours that I admittedly chose to work spawned from both staff shortages and co-worker pressures combined with aspirations to succeed in this new industry. I did this with zero consideration for my own, already battered, mental health, in the hopes that I remain on the path to success. But how will I be successful If I’m not at my complete best, mentally?

This situation is especially true for many of my pasifika cohorts, some of the hardest workers I know are constantly pressured with the same idea of work = success. As a people, we are attuned to it, to make sure our families are provided for at the sacrifice of our own personal time and mental health. Specifically this is my call to all those who have been presented with the opportunity to take a rest during this lockdown;

Do it. Enjoy it.

Regain your energy and balance out your life so that when the world does return to a notion of normality, that you are coming out of this lockdown better than you ever were. There may be issues of policy and atmosphere in the workplaces where you operate, but in the realm of things we can realistically control, taking care of yourself is your number one priority.

This lockdown, do what you feel will ultimately make you feel better mentally. If being productive is your thing, do it. If you want to lie around and sleep, do it. Find your thing and roll with it, enjoy it and put to rest any notion of keeping busy. You’ve been given time so use it to focus on yourself.

Manuia le aso, stay safe and stay home.

We’ve got this!

-Ryan Patumaka