Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Making the Most of Lockdown: How to Get Your Motivation Back

Yesterday marked the start of our 11th week of lockdown in the UK. I desperately want to type, 'hang in there, we're on the last leg now!', but the reality is that no one really knows for certain how much longer we have in lockdown, particularly whilst the threat of a potential second wave and second peak looms. An unknown amount of time stretches before us, and the prospect of this is quite demotivating. Whilst some people may have found a new burst of energy in returning to work after a long time of either furlough or working from home, I know that a lot of those who read my blog will be my friends. A large percentage of my readers, therefore, are students like I am - probably without a job to focus on considering the fact that there are a lot more students than virtual internships, and that a lot of student employment comes from the hospitality sector. So in other words, motivation could be in short supply.

Overall, I have managed to stay quite motivated, and exercise is definitely something that helps me. I am not exercising as much now compared to the beginning of lockdown (the novelty of home workouts is starting to wear off), but I do still enjoy the post-workout endorphin rush. I also find going for a run really refreshing, particularly if I manage to get up and go whilst it's still cool and before too many people are out. 
   If you are struggling with lockdown because the days seem so long with nothing to fill them, taking an hour to go for a dog walk will bring you one hour closer to the next day. It can be a lot harder to find motivation to 'do something', such as exercise, reading, taking online courses, self teaching, etc., if there is no immediate pressing requirement for you to do so. I completely empathise with this; it can be very internally frustrating if you want to do something, or know you should be doing something, but sometimes just doing it is easier said than done if you're feeling down in the dumps.

The biggest thing that has increased my motivation and stopped me slipping into a rut is having a routine. I think routine helps me hold on to a bit of normality. My routine has been massively helped by the fact that I spend three days a week volunteering for For The Love Of Scrubs; my days do feel different to each other, rather than each week just feeling like one everlasting Sunday. Volunteering three days also means that for the four days I am at home, I am busier. However, routine can easily come from just doing daily exercise, eating meals at the right times, and getting up at the same time each day. I think routine and a healthy sleeping pattern kind of go hand in hand; I have a health and wellness light that I feel makes a massive difference to my mood, and helps me to get up in the morning so that I don't turn off my alarm. I have become a bit of a morning person in lockdown, and I think having energy first thing in the morning can really set the tone for the rest of the day.

If you find that you struggle when faced with lots to do, then the best thing I can suggest is keeping lists. Lists are the best things for planning your time, and definitely makes tasks feel more manageable if you are able to block them out over a month, over a week, or over a day. I keep one overall to-do list in my phone, and then, because I like to be as organised as possible, I keep a daily planner to-do list, in which I divide my tasks for the upcoming week/fortnight across each day. This really helps me to divide up my time and stay on it, and there is something about checking off your list or deleting things from the list that is really satisfying, so I think it's a good motivator. I honestly cannot live without my lists.

Motivation is definitely an individual thing, but personally, I find that the more tasks and activities I have to keep me busy, the more motivated I am. This definitely won't be for everybody, but I would say that for the past month, I have had something on my to-do list every day - even if that's just to finish my book and hoover my room. Having a rolling to-do list really keeps me focused; I know personally that if I were to take a week off and dedicate it to sleeping in till midday and watching Netflix all day, I would feel very sluggish and would struggle to find any motivation. That's not to say that you shouldn't still spend time relaxing and recharging as well - I really enjoy watching some TV in the evening, reading, or going on a socially distanced picnic. Some social interaction or a chat with your friends definitely can elevate your mood and make you feel a bit more human if you've been feeling a bit lethargic and not your usual self.
   I think when it comes to lockdown and motivation, the biggest thing to remember is just not to be too hard on yourself, and listen to your body. To make the most of lockdown, use the times when you are feeling energetic and uplifted to get things done, but remember not to panic or criticise yourself if you are feeling overwhelmed or demotivated. Often the feeling will pass, but also think about adopting some healthier habits if you are feeling demotivated more than you are motivated. ❤️
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