Another lockdown wasn’t exactly the way any of us wanted to start in 2021. Now we’re in March and it feels like we’re basically in the place that we started in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic first took hold of the UK. Despite the exciting news about vaccinations giving many of us hope, the seemingly endless lockdown we find ourselves living in has had a hugely detrimental effect on our motivation. We know that many of you are feeling deflated, stagnant and like your energy levels are at zero – trust us, we feel like that too!
While the idea of remote learning and working didn’t seem so bad back in March 2020 when we could all ditch our morning commutes, catch up on some extra sleep and enjoy a lunchtime walk the novelty has well and truly worn off. Despite having more free time many of us are feeling more tired than we did before the pandemic, and far less productive than normal.
Ann Heathcote, Psychotherapist and Counsellor explains that this is an unavoidable side effect of lockdown…
‘We are all going through a lot of changes this year and many of us will be experiencing decision fatigue. When we are in our regular routine, we naturally have fewer decisions to make. From settling into our new home working environment to trying to decide how best to utilise our free time; whilst keeping updated with the changing world around us, there’s an awful lot going on in our brains.
Many of us just aren’t used to this amount of psychological stress. Our nervous systems can only work in ‘fight or flight’ mode for so long before the inevitable ‘lull’ many of us are currently experiencing kicks in; our energy sapped and motivation practically non-existent.’
However, Ann does have tips on how we can get our motivation back!
If you’re struggling with focusing on your work, don’t overwhelm yourself. Take a break away from your work-space to have a cup of tea or go for a short walk. It can be easy to get distracted and watch just one more episode of that Netflix series, but be strict with yourself.
Allow yourself 15 minutes away from your screen and then get back to it, this may feel difficult at the time but in the long run, you’ll thank yourself when you don’t feel like you’re rushing to catch up with work later on.
Got loads more free time but nothing to fill it with? We totally get this. With all the restrictions we are currently living under it can be hard to find things that we enjoy doing. But even though you may not be able to go out and enjoy your favourite activity, you should still find the time to do something you enjoy at home. Practice a form of self-care that works for you; whether that’s exercising, getting creative, baking or just spending a cosy evening with your favourite book or film.
Press pause on pressure
With all this extra free time it becomes easy to feel pressured to use it wisely, make the most of it and achieve something. For some people, using this time to learn a new skill is great – but if that doesn’t work for you don’t beat yourself up over it.
Press pause on pressuring yourself into doing things because you feel like you should be doing them, instead fill your time with things you want to do.
Sometimes just getting through the day is an achievement in itself, and that’s okay!
We’re all having to adjust to a new way of living, learning and working. Most of us are squashed round the kitchen table alongside our siblings and parents all trying to focus. It can be difficult for many families to respect each other’s boundaries at this time, as the physical barriers we normally have between work/study time and family time have disappeared.
For young people especially it may feel as if you’re being treated like a child again, that independence you gained at Long Road has suddenly disappeared and you have parents/carers peering over your shoulder and asking why you didn’t answer any questions in your last virtual lesson.
Take time to talk to the people you’re sharing your workspace with and set out some boundaries. These can be really simple such as ‘headphones in = do not disturb me’ or setting a time each day to have a break together away from your screens.
These boundaries will make focusing during the day much easier, and make family time after work much more enjoyable.
Sticking to a routine is something so many of us have struggled with during lockdown. The luxury of waking up later and not having to get the bus to college has soon turned into waking up 5 minutes before a virtual lesson and not getting to sleep until 3am after binge-watching your favourite tv series for the 100th time. But bringing some routine back into your life will make you feel a lot better and keep you motivated throughout the day.
Use your college timetable as a starting point, that’s most of your day already planned! Then work backwards; what time should you get up in the morning? Allow yourself to wake up slowly and give yourself plenty of time to shower, get dressed, have breakfast and get set up for the day. Plan your lunch breaks and what you want to focus on in your independent study periods. When you have a clear plan of what you need to get done the tasks will seem a lot less daunting and you’ll feel more motivated to get started.
Listen to your body
Go back to basics – are you getting enough sleep? are you eating a balanced diet? are you drinking enough water? are you getting enough vitamin D?
Remember, our bodies are basically like super complicated plants – you need good food, plenty of water and sunlight to function at your best! Without these then you will be lacking the energy you need to get motivated and be productive.