COVID-19 turned our world upside down. We were brought into lockdown and had to stay constantly put in the same environment, distant from friends and extended family. We had to isolate, maintain social distancing, worked from home and some also lost their job. We were suddenly captured by uncertainty and there was and still is nothing we can do about it. Our mental, emotional and physical health were and still are being tested on a daily basis.
In such trying times, our ability to focus on daily tasks and chores has been affected. Self-isolation in itself contributes to low levels of motivation and energy (EHL Insights, n.d.). It may have become easier to let go of our routines, including self-care, eating and sleeping patterns, social life, relationships, and so on. Our level of motivation has been strongly impacted and maintaining it may have proved to be a more difficult task than usual.
Motivation is that which drives us to achieve our tasks and goals, to feel self-accomplished and to improve our quality of life. The following tips can help you to get motivated and to maintain a healthy mind:
1. Acknowledge the obstacles and your feelings.
Acknowledging the various obstacles to motivation you’ve encountered is the fundamental way forward to be better able to manage them and to start restoring your motivation (Boring-Bray, 2020). Tune into and acknowledge your feelings and your current situation, including your energy and motivation levels. Focus on the aspects you can control. Abdominal breathing techniques are also useful to ground yourself and to gain mental clarity.
2. Set SMART goals
In this uncertainty, we may find ourselves having no direction and trying to be motivated can feel pointless. Through setting tasks and goals, you create a direction and this increases our motivation to work towards them (Boring-Bray, 2020). Start with small and SMART tasks, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Goals can vary from exercising, to making that important phone call, to taking time for yourself and resting. Furthermore, jotting down your goals will serve as a reminder of your direction.
3. Tackle daily tasks
Even though you may have goals towards a better direction in life, your day may still seem full of uncertainty and this affects our motivation too. Through planning your daily tasks, you may gain some control over the uncertainty. Visualising what you have going on enables you to clear your mind and to provide a better picture of what needs to be done. Jot down your daily goals and when completing each task, cross it off. This can bring about a sense of accomplishment, relief, and also a motivation boost to complete the next tasks as the list gets smaller.
4. Set a Routine
In order to add some predictability to your life, focus on building small aspects of your routine. Start off with trying to create a few small habits that you can count on, for instance, drinking a cup of coffee before you start your day, or going for a walk in the evening. Such minor habits can help you regain some form of control and predictability (Boring-Bray, 2020).
5. Prioritise Self-Care
During such times, you may be experiencing stress, anxiety and fear. In continuing to push yourself, you may experience burn out without even realizing it. Listen to your body. Try to plan time to unwind or to do something you enjoy. Try to limit the news and social media intake. Exercise and maintain healthy sleeping and eating patterns. Dedicating time towards strengthening your mental and physical health is crucial, especially during a pandemic. If you think you need help, do not be afraid to reach out or seek professional advice.
6. Stay social
Keeping up with social connections is another way to help you maintain your motivation. Social distancing may evoke feelings of isolation and anxiety, thus further affecting your motivation. However, through technology, you can still maintain relationships, especially when you need inspiration or encouragement.
Setting realistic tasks and taking care of yourself can help us gain more control, and better manage our way through this pandemic. In being motivated, we are less inclined to focus on the stresses of the now, and to focus towards a more hopeful future. Through the whole process, listen to your body and remind yourself that it is ok to take a break once in a while.
Michela Aquilina is a trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist who is currently reading for a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy at the Gestalt Psychotherapy Training Institute Malta (GPTIM) and is working as a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist with Willingness Team. Michela offers therapy to young adults and adults who are experiencing various challenges and issues relating to mental health and psychosocial, emotional wellbeing.
EHL Insights, (n.d.). COVID-19: Staying motivated and warding away low mood. Retrieved from: https://hospitalityinsights.ehl.edu/covid-19-staying-motivated
Boring-Bray, W. (2020). 6 ways to rediscover motivation during COVID-19. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/new-beginning/202008/6-ways-rediscover-motivation-during-covid-19