Last week Melbournians passed over 200 days in lockdown in the last 18 months, and our friends in Sydney will not be far behind, having been in lockdown since before the last school holidays.
Lockdown makes everything harder, but one thing I wanted to focus on specifically today was MOTIVATION.
I am a highly motivated person, but lockdown sometimes eats away at me and there are days where it is hard to focus and hard to quite know what to do to get my usual mojo back. This weekend was an example of that, and while I managed to make the most of two sunny days (knowing that a walk in nature is a good mood booster for me), I didn’t feel up to many of the things I had planned – even the fun things available to me in lockdown.
Some of this we just have to accept – as we are surrounded by increasing case numbers and changes in restrictions it’s natural perhaps to feel the need to take a break or to find it hard to escape feelings of uncertainty. I like to think this is a normal human response… and I forgive myself for it. But I don’t want to stay in that place where I don’t feel like putting energy into anything… a place where no energy returns to me either! So, I needed a few strategies up my sleeve to help. If any of these prove helpful to you – then they are worth sharing! We would also love you to share in the comments section anything you have learnt that you would like to add.
Connecting With Nature
Green spaces have been scientifically proven to improve our mood as well as our physicality. We become more relaxed and mindful as we connect with them. This is such a powerful tool that we actually wrote about it in the biggest lockdown last year – so we recommend another read of this article which outlines all the physical and psychological benefits of green spaces and even why these are the case!
Taking A Break
Sometimes the answer is as simple as allowing yourself to take a break and shift the focus from the activity you are struggling with. Doing something that elicits more positive emotions like playing with your dog or listening to a pump up song or chatting to a friend or family member may change your mood and mindset enough to be able to approach that same task in a new frame of mind.
Breaking Tasks Into Manageable Chunks
If it’s a big task that you are struggling to find energy to tackle, why not break it up into smaller chunks? Each one becomes something you can achieve and the whole task seems easier.
Pairing Tasks with Something You Enjoy
Pairing things is a great way to create new habits (as we explored in this article) and also a great way to make a challenging task seem easier. Each page of Maths homework could be paired with a sweet treat. Or listening to a video for class or an online PD session could be paired with a fun workout. Find ways to attach desirable and undesirable things together – I always clean while listening to an audiobook! Now I actually look forward to cleaning!
Connecting to Your Purpose
Sometimes you have to give yourself a bit of a pep-talk and remind yourself why these tasks are so necessary and important. Completing study and finishing your VCE allows you to take steps towards achieving important life goals. Finishing work contributes to company goals that matter. Getting the shopping helps your family. Finishing your training routine will allow you and your sports team to perform better after lockdown.
Bigger picture thinking reminds us of why we do all the things we do.
Visualising Success – and Failure
How will you feel when this task is done? Happy and relieved? Will you have a great sense of achievement? Whatever positive emotion it is, give yourself an opportunity to sit and imagine it. Similarly, you could imagine what happens if the task did not get done. How would you feel? Who would you let down?
Tell Someone – Get Support or Coaching
Asking for help is a step towards getting the task done – and that takes courage. Ask your family for support. Work with a friend to get started (there are way to do this online). Reach out to a teacher for advice. All the best athletes get coaching to be their best – why not get some too?
Move – Reset Your Mind and Body
Movement is a great mood shaper and one that should never be underestimated. Exercise as we know, release the feel-good hormone endorphins. Embrace some endorphins before a hard task and it might just seem a little easier to do.
Recognise That Getting Started is the Hardest Part
When a huge or undesirable task sits in front of me – getting started and thinking about it is the worst part. Once I am into it, I often find myself musing that it isn’t really so bad. Use this philosophy to get yourself started – it is the worst before I even begin!
Being Gentle With Yourself
And finally, be gentle and kind with yourself when you are lacking motivation. These are difficult times and there will be difficult days and difficult moments that reflect that. We ALL have them. Take a break and then come back to this list of activities and see if there is one that will help you get back on track.
If you are a student or working with a young person struggling with motivation and schooling right now, this lovely video by an American university student studying in lockdown and in a different timezone has some great ideas that might assist:
Like many things to do with balancing and maintaining our wellbeing, it’s all about knowing yourself and knowing the strategies that work for you. Hopefully this article provides a few more for you to have up your sleeve!
Photo by Alexas Fotos from Pexels