Everyone I meet asks how to stay motivated during the Covid pandemic. It’s hard not having our usual positive reinforcements around us such as other people to inspire us. Many of us get motivation from talking to others and feeling connected and this has been taken away.
Staying motivated during lockdown is a real test of how you are able to draw on your inner resources to keep going. We aren’t an eternal supply of ambition and inspiration so what can you do when you feel low on motivation?
One day at a time
Don’t think about the entire time ahead until you get out of lockdown. Instead, break this time down into one day at a time. What can you do today? How can you make today count? That doesn’t mean you have to be productive every day either. Productive rest is highly underrated and if you can’t use lockdown as a good excuse to take a few hours off to chill, when can you. Think about if – if you feel guilty taking time off during lockdown, you won’t stand a chance when life gets busy again.
Decide on 1-3 main activities for the day – one could be watching a movie, the other could be attending to work and yet another could be attending to self-care (looking after yourself by going for a walk for example). Plan your day loosely around your ‘main items or plans’ and you will still receive the psychological boost of having had a purpose for that day. Having aims for the day will also help you get out of bed in the morning.
Don’t be obsessed with the news
How often do we get live in our own little bubble? One way to stay motivated during the Covid pandemic is to enjoy the fact that you can shut off from the world. Watch the news less as this is a sure-fire way to raise your anxiety. Instead of focusing on all that is wrong in the world (there’s plenty), focus on things that make you feel happier and comfort you. Whether that’s a box set or an animal series or just Ted talks for example. What you focus on will affect your mood and your quality of life so choose wisely!
Find a sense of purpose
Even during lockdown, it’s possible to find ways to add meaning to your life. Start studying that course you’ve been thinking about for ages or begin exercising now that you have the time. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, think about what would help you to feel fulfilled. What could you do that would give you a sense of purpose? Perhaps pick a hobby like painting or knitting – being creative is a wonderful way to feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s known as occupational therapy and is great for mental health. Brainstorm activities that you could do to keep busy and you will find it easier to stay motivated during the Covid pandemic.
Connect with others online
We are social creatures and we tend to fare less well when we are isolated. If you feel lonely, reach out to others. Set up a virtual get-together online with your friends and/or family via Zoom, face time or Skype. If that’s not possible, find an online forum or a charity that connects lonely or isolated people. Thanks to the internet we can still chat with others in the safety of our own homes. use this to your advantage.
We all tend to overthink and overanalyse when we have too much time on our hands and being in your mind too much of like being in enemy territory. We start to tune in to our insecurities and our fears and off we go on a downward spiral of despair. If you want to stay motivated during the Covid pandemic be very careful about the thoughts you choose to believe. Thoughts aren’t facts and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has taught me to dismiss my thoughts and return to the present moment. Mindfulness is a great tactic for staying out of my mind.
Do your best to stay in the moment – look around you. What can you see, hear, touch, smell, and taste? Revel in your five senses and keep your attention on the present moment as much as possible. This takes practice and I still struggle but it’s something to keep practising (meditation can help too). Watch for errors in thinking (also called unhelpful thinking styles) as these types of thoughts aren’t true (there is no evidence) yet we ‘buy’ into them and they make us unnecessarily anxious/depressed.
When you become more aware of what you are focusing on, your quality of life will improve dramatically. What we focus on affects how we think and feel so ensure you make an effort to focus on the things that soothe and inspire you.
It is possible to stay motivated during the Covid pandemic. Be kind to yourself and don’t catastrophise. There is an end in sight so sit tight and know that positive change is on the horizon.